Hake En Papillote: with Fennel Seeds, Pak Choi, Carrot & Basil

Hake En Papilotte with Fennel Seeds, Pak Choi, Carrot & Basil

There’s something fishy going on around here. I’ve been preparing a lot of sea food recently; Sea Bass with Rosemary, Champagne Baked Salmon, Dressed  Lobster, and now this Hake En Papilotte and all in the past week. I think it has a lot to do with the weather. When it’s slightly warmer the lighter textures and flavours of seafood are so much more appropriate. Don’t get me wrong – I love to grill/Braai/BBQ (depending on where you’re from) but fish is definitely “In” at the moment round our bit.

Hake has a very special place in my heart as it’s the fish my Grandmother would use to make Battered Fish and chips of a Friday back in South Africa. She would cut the fillets into chunky goujons and lightly batter them. The flesh was “ozoney” and substantial and made a pleasant alternative to the haddock or cod I was used to getting back in Scotland. Her chips were superlative, as only a Grandmother’s could be. So when I heard my Mum had got some Hake for our family meal I was happy for it to be my turn to cook.

As I’m lazy I decided to do it En Papilotte (in a tinfoil parcel). I think it’s the best way to do fish as it’s difficult to over cook using this technique… in my opinion. Turn your oven on to 240°C to let it heat up while you prep. I’ll lay out my recipe here:

Serves 4

  • 2 large Hake fillets (cut into 4 portions)
  • 1 or 2 Pak Choy, depending on size, shredded broadly
  • 1/2 orange zested and juiced
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely sliced
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 medium sized carrot julienned
  • 1 fistful (About 2 table spoons once chopped) of Basil finely chopped into a chiffonade
  • Sea Salt
  • Ground Pepper
  • Dry White Wine
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I find it easiest to prep all the ingredients before hand so that the assembly process of the dish is expedient. A good fish monger will prep the Hake for you if you ask, so no need to worry there. Make 4 tinfoil squares about 40cm by 40cm (depending on the width of your tinfoil). Lay a quarter of the Pak Choy on the centre of your sheet then place your Hake on top. You will be dividing all of your ingredients into 4 for this process, just use your eye for judgement – this is a no stress kind of dish. Season your hake with a large pinch on sea salt (Half a teaspoon if fine, a whole teaspoon if coarse) and a couple of grinds of pepper. Now add a 1/4 of your Orange zest & Juice, Basil Chiffonade, Carrot Julienne and fennel seeds. Drizzle some olive oil around the ingredients and then pinch and gather the foil together leaving the top of your parcel open. Pour in a glug of white wine and seal. Repeat this process till your portions are done. Place the parcels into a roasting tray and put it into the oven for 10minutes.


  • FOR THE SAKE OF THE HAKE DON’T LET IT BAKE. Make sure you’ve sealed the parcels well so you hold in the steam.
  • You can line the foil with a slightly smaller piece of parchment to create a double seal if you’re that kind of a belt and braces chap or chapette.
  • Line with a patterned parchment for better presentation and serve the parcel on the plate to allow your guests to experience the fun and aroma of opening the tasty pocket.
  • You can use any Brassica  for this recipe, I just happened to have Pak Choy because a colleague had brought some in from her veg patch.

I served this with fine beans, sliced cherry tomato and rice but you can use what ever pulses, purees or veges and salad you want. If you have some nice bread to hand it is perfect for dipping in the cooking liquor and finishing the meal off. Load the bread with butter – of course.

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