Bryan McCarthy, head chef of Greenes Restaurant in Cork, gives us his recipe for delicious pan-roasted hake with sea spinach, smoked bacon, dashi cream and sea lettuce
"Some of the ingredients might be a challenge to source for this dish – good speciality food shops and Asian shops or Asia Market online will have everything you need. In Japanese cuisine, dashi stock is used for soups, stews, simmering and braising, much like we use chicken or vegetable stock. Dashi is made with dried tuna flakes called bonito flakes or katsuobushi (available in Asia Market in Dublin or Quay co-op in Cork or online) and it is packed with umami flavour. In this dish, I have used dashi in place of fish stock" - Bryan McCarthy
Yield: Serves 4
- 200g fresh sea lettuce, dillisk, nori or sea salad from the Quilty range will do
- 2 shallots, diced
- 75ml white wine
- 75ml mirin
- 250ml fish stock
- 200ml cream
- 50g dried kombu seaweed powder (Quilty or Laughing Oyster are good Irish brands available in Supervalu)
- 1 cup bonito flakes
- 10ml tosa dashi or other light dashi vinegar
- 300g sea spinach
- 4 x 200g pieces hake
- 25g butter
- 150g smoked bacon, cut into lardons (we use McCarthy’s of Kanturk)
- Rapeseed oil
- 20g pickled dillisk seaweed, optional
- Dehydrate the sea lettuce by placing it in a low oven with the fan on and the door left slightly ajar, or overnight in a warm, airy place on a tray lined with baking parchment. When dry, grind to a fine powder using a pestle and mortar or spice grinder.
- Get a medium pot of salted water on to boil for blanching the sea spinach and set your oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4.
- Sauté the shallots gently until soft and without colour. Add the white wine and mirin and reduce by half. Add the fish stock and reduce by half. Add the cream and kombu powder and bring to a simmer. Cook for two minutes. Remove from the heat and strain over the bonito flakes. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
- Put the shallots and kombu from the strainer in a blender. Strain the cream back into the blender after infusing. Blend to a fine consistency. Adjust the seasoning and add the tosa dashi vinegar, then fine strain and reserve until later.
- Have a bowl of ice water ready. Cook the sea spinach in the boiling salted water for 45 seconds and cool in the ice water quickly to preserve the colour and flavour. Squeeze out excess water.
- Pat dry the skin of the fish and season the flesh side with salt and white pepper. Add a little oil to the hot pan and pan roast the fish two at a time, skin side down, applying pressure to keep the skin flat. Cook for 4-6 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Turn over and add the butter to the pan. Tilt the pan and, as the butter starts to foam, spoon it over the skin of the fish for one minute. Set aside and repeat for the other two pieces of fish.
- In the fish pan, sauté the bacon. Add the dashi cream and simmer. Put the fish in the oven for three minutes and then add the sea spinach to the dashi cream. Remove the fish from the oven.
- To serve, place a spoon of dashi cream and sea spinach in the centre of each plate and a piece of fish on top and dust with the seaweed powder and finish with pickled dillisk.
TIP: Instead of dehydrated sea lettuce, you can use the Quilty seaweed pre-dried tubs available in Supervalu.
Find out more about Greenes Restaurant in Cork on their website.
Photography by Harry Weir and Brian Clarke.