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    Nathan Outlaw's Hake balls with linguine in fennel and tomato sauce

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    Nathan Outlaw's Hake balls with linguine in fennel and tomato sauce

    A real crowd-pleaser, this deliciously aromatic dish is an ideal way to try hake for the first time.

    • Preparation time: 25 minutes
    • Cooking time: 40 minutes
    • Total time: 1 hour 5 minutes

    Serves: 4

    Ingredients

    1 tbsp vegetable oil
    2 shallots, finely chopped
    2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
    450g hake fillets, skinned 
    1 egg, lightly beaten
    ½ x 25g pack flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
    ¹⁄ ³ x 20g pack dill, finely chopped
    300g dried linguine

    TOMATO SAUCE
    2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
    2 small onions, chopped
    3 garlic cloves, chopped
    2 sprigs rosemary, leaves chopped
    1 tsp fennel seeds, toasted
    1 fennel bulb, outer leaves removed, finely sliced
    1 tsp caster sugar
    2 tbsp sherry vinegar
    400ml jar passata
    400g can peeled plum tomatoes
    ¹⁄ ³ x 25g pack basil, leaves picked and sliced
    ¹⁄ ³ x 25g pack flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped

    Method

    1. To make the hake balls, first heat a frying pan over a medium heat, then add the oil, followed by the shallots, garlic and chilli. Sweat for 2 minutes to soften without colouring, then tip onto a plate to cool.

    2. Check the hake fillets for any bones by running your fingers over them and pinch out any you find. Very finely chop the fish until it is almost a paste. Transfer to a cold bowl, season and add the cooled shallot mixture, beaten egg and herbs. Mix well with your hands, then shape into 12 golf-ball-sized balls and put on a tray. Chill while you make the tomato sauce.

    3. To make the sauce, heat a large frying pan or flameproof casserole dish over a medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic, rosemary and fennel seeds; cook for 2 minutes. Add the fennel slices and cook for 3 minutes. Add the sugar and sherry vinegar and cook for another 30 seconds. Pour in the passata and tinned tomatoes with a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon, then cook gently for 10 minutes.

    4. Carefully put the hake balls in the sauce and cover with a lid. Cook over a low heat for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the linguine according to the pack instructions. Drain the cooked linguine, add to the pan of tomato sauce and hake balls, and mix gently but thoroughly. Divide between 4 warm pasta bowls. Dress with a drizzle of olive oil and a scattering of basil and parsley. Serve at once.

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    This recipe first appeared in Waitrose & Partners Food, March 2020 issue. Download the Waitrose & Partners Food app for the full issue

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