Hake With Clams in Salsa Verde
This Basque classic from Marti Buckley's cookbook “Basque Country: A Culinary Journey Through a Food Lover's Paradise,” requires a bit of quick stove work once the clams start to open. You must be sure there is a nice amount of liquid in the bottom of the pan, enough to swirl around so the flour coating on the fish and the olive oil can thicken and emulsify the sauce. And though it's called salsa verde, it's not a dense herbal purée as in Italian cooking but a fresh, rather sheer parsley-based mixture.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 20littleneck or manila clams, the smaller the better
- Bones, head and tail from a 1 1/2 to 2-pound fish, preferably hake, or 1 1/2 cups fish stock
- 4skin-on hake or halibut fillets, 6 to 7 ounces each
- Kosher or fine sea salt
- ½cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2cloves garlic, minced
- 1tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ½cup dry, acidic white wine like txacoli or Sancerre
- 1 ½tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
Step 1Place clams in a bowl, cover with cold water and set aside. If using fish trimmings, rinse them with cold water, place in a 3-quart saucepan, add water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve and discard the solids. You should have at least 1 cup fish stock, preferably more. Set aside.
Step 2Drain clams and scrub them. Rinse fish fillets and pat dry. Season with salt on the skinless side.
Step 3Heat oil in a large sauté pan or stovetop casserole. Add garlic and cook on medium-high until garlic barely starts to color. Add flour and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add wine, cook 30 seconds and add fish stock. Lower heat and simmer about a minute.
Step 4Add fish to the pan, skin side up. Simmer gently about 3 minutes. Turn fillets over, add clams, placing them around the fillets. Cook about 5 minutes, or until clams open. If the liquid appears to be drying up, add some additional fish stock or water. When the clams open, scatter parsley around the pan.
Step 5Remove pan from heat and move it in a circular motion a minute or two to swirl the sauce so it begins to emulsify and look smooth. Add more salt if needed. Serve directly from the pan or divide among individual shallow soup bowls.