piment-seared hake, ‘melted’ leeks, fingerlings, zest, olives

I came across an old printout for this recipe minutes before I began to cook dinner tonight [I had probably transcribed it from this site, but I took some liberties with its text]. Since it was a little more time-consuming than most of my treatments I use for this great fish, it meant that we ate a little later than either of us had hoped we would, but the meal was really so extraordinary that, I think, neither of us minded very much.

I mean, it was really really delicious.

Especially as I think about it now, I imagine it has more than a little bit of Basque – or Spanish – in it, so the wine the house sommelier pulled out of the rack, a Galician Albariño, wasn’t just a good pairing, but also pretty ‘right’ for the meal.

The fish was hake, a species much loved in Spain, and with good reason, and the roasted vegetable dish included potatoes, leeks, olives, garlic, lemon, dried no-heat habanero peppers, and a Basque piment.

The image below shows the vegetables just prior to being put into the oven, but it was taken before the olives, the final seasoning with salt and pepper, and the last drizzle of olive oil was added.

  • the white and lighter green sections of 3 leeks from Phillips Farm, trimmed, halved lengthwise, thoroughly washed free of dirt, kept intact as possible; 10 ounces of red French fingerlings from Race Farm, halved lengthwise; 10 pitted black oil-cured olives from Buon Italia, roughly chopped; 2 teaspoons of the zest of a local lemon from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island; 2 garlic cloves from Healthway Farms & CSA; a few pinches of both orange-gold and dark homedried Habanada pepper; sea salt; and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, and altogehter one half of a teaspoon of a homemade French Basque piment d’Espellate purchased in a small town north of Baie-Comeau, Quebec 2 years ago from the producer’s daughter, all arranged on the surface of a sheet of aluminum foil (I’d use parchment paper the next time), sealed at the edges, and roasted in a 475º oven for between 25 and 30 minutes
  • one 15 1/2-ounce hake fillet from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, halved, brought to room temperature beginning when the vegetables were being prepared, washed, dried, seasoned with sea salt, freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, and another half teaspoon of the piment d’Espellate, seared with a very little olive oil inside a tin-lined oval copper pan, 3 to 5 minutes each side, beginning with the flesh side, removed, arranged on 2 plates and sprinkles with chopped parsley from Eataly
  • the wine was a Spanish (Galicia) white, Lolo Albariño Rias Baixas 2013, from Chelsea Wine Vault
  • the music was Handel’s 1744 opera, ‘Hercules’, Marc Minkowski
    directing Les Musiciens du Louvre and Le Choeur des Musiciens du Louvre