Hake & Clams in Green Sauce
Origin: Basque Country
This is a typical Spanish recipe from the Basque region, one of the most celebrated Spanish regions for gastronomy. This traditional fish dish is made using hake which is regularly caught in the North of Spain. Salsa Verde is also another great Spanish sauce which appears in a number of Spanish dishes that involve fish and seafood.
The salsa verde or green sauce gets its name, unsurprisingly, from the greeny white colour that it turns thanks to the parsley in it. This sauce is extremely Spanish and is used in a number of dishes with clams alone as well as with other ingredients such as hake, monkfish and cod.
Hake is not the cheapest fish but it is one of the tastiest and is used often in Basque cooking as it is caught in the nearby Bay of Biscay and Cantabria. You can find hake in good fish markets in other countries around the world but the best hake is found in the Basque Country where the flesh of the fish tend to be tastier and the skin is much darker and shiny. The best Merluza y almejas en salsa verde will therefore be found in the North, a sure dish to try when you visit Spain.
Cooking with shell fish is always very important to get right as it is easy to get ill from uncooked or bad shell food. Therefore make sure that before you start cooking the clams, you remove any of the clams whose shells are already open. However, after cooking, the opposite applies and you must throw away any clams whose shells are still closed. These simple rules will, hopefully, avoid any upset stomachs. Also, don't forget to check if any of your guests are allergic to seafood, as this is a very common allergy.
Merluza y almejas en salsa verde | Hake and Clams in Green Sauce
- 24 Manila / small little neck Clams
- 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
- 4 cups of water
- ⅓ cup Olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- ½ tsp hot red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1½ tsps salt
- 2 tbsps fresh parsley, chopped
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 lbs hake fillet, cut into 16 pieces
- Salt to season
- 4 white asparagus shoots, freshly cooked or from a tin, halved crosswise
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered for garnish
- Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
- Serves 4
- Scrub the clams under cold water and throw away any that are open. Then, put the clams and the coarse salt into a bowl and cover them with water. Allow to stand for at least 30 minutes and up to around 2 hours so that any excess sand is released. After this time, drain the clams.
- Put the 4 cups of water into a large saucepan and then add the clams. Bring the water to the boil over a medium-high heat. Cover the pan and cook the clams for about 5 minutes, or until the clams are all open. Stir the clams while they are cooking with a wooden spoon to help them to open at roughly the same time.
- Drain the clams but keep the cooking water. If any clams are still closed, get rid of them.
- In a very deep pan, heat the olive oil up on a high heat, then add the garlic and red pepper flakes (if you are using them). Fry the garlic and pepper for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly until the garlic starts turning golden in colour.
- Sprinkle the flour over the cooking garlic and mix well with a wooden spoon.
- Add 3 cups of the left over cooking water along with the salt, parsley and white wine. Turn the heat down to medium and boil the mixture for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce gets thicker, stirring occasionally. If you prefer a thinner sauce, you can always add more of the cooking water to the pan.
- Rotate the pan over the hob to mix all of the ingredients together and then boil the mixture for another 2 minutes. You will know that the sauce is ready when it is blended together and has a whitish green tinge.
- Sprinkle the salt over the pieces of hake fillet and then place in the sauce, making sure that they are in a single layer.
- Cook the hake for about 2 minutes on each side until the centre is no longer see through.
- Add the clams and the asparagus to the sauce and then shake the pan so the ingredients don't stick to it. Simmer the pan for a further 2 minutes so that everything is heated through.
- Garnish with the egg and fresh parsley and serve.