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FISH STEW OF HAKETelevision cooking programmes used to be dull and boring, invariably filmed in a bare studio and purely instructional in content. While travelling along the Cornish coast, I was reminded of the man who first inspired me, Keith Floyd. He was a great English chef of the 1980s, who totally transformed cooking on television. He was the first to cook on location, either on a boat or in the middle of a vineyard, but that wasn’t the only reason his shows were so popular. Floyd was a flamboyant character who always wore a bow tie and had a full glass of wine to hand. He made cooking on television fun to watch, even if you weren’t planning on cooking yourself, and his shows were chaotic and exciting. If things went wrong, they went wrong, it was as simple as that – and on the BBC at prime time. Whenever I find myself standing in the mud with a cooker on a pile of wooden pallets, I think of Keith Floyd, who invented the whole idea.

  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 Minutes


  • 600 g/1 lb 5 oz hake fillet, skinned and cut into 4 equal-size pieces
  • coarse sea salt
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • small handful of thyme sprigs
  • handful of flat-leaf parsley, stalks and leaves separated and chopped
  • zest of 4 oranges, removed in strips with a vegetable peeler
  • 600 ml/1 pint/2½ cups of fish stock (see here), or enough to cover the fish
  • 150 g/5 oz baby new potatoes, peeled
  • 100 g/4 oz marsh samphire (sea asparagus/sea beans)
  • groundnut (peanut) oil
  • salt and pepper
How to Make It
  1. Place the pieces of hake in a dish. Cover with a layer of coarse sea salt and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  2. Transfer the hake from the dish to a colander and run cold water over it for 5 minutes to ensure all the salt is rinsed off. The fish will have become firmer in texture, lighter in colour and opaque.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of groundnut (peanut) oil in a pan, add the onion, celery, fennel, carrot and garlic and fry for 3 minutes without colouring. Add the bay leaves, thyme, parsley stalks and orange zest. Stir for 1 minute and then pour in the stock. Add the potatoes and bring to the boil.
  4. Lower the heat and simmer for 8 minutes. Add the fish and simmer for a further 5 minutes before adding the marsh samphire (sea asparagus/sea beans) and chopped parsley leaves. Cook for a further 1 minute. Taste and season with salt and pepper – salt may not be needed as the marsh samphire is already quite salty.
  5. The fish stew is excellent served with aioli (see here).

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