Hake Poached in Spicy Tomato-Eggplant Sauce

PHOTO BY KATIE NOBLE / STYLED BY CATRINE KELTY

Hake is an under-appreciated New England fish that is often a good deal at the supermarket or fish market. The spice blend I paired it with here also works well as a rub for chicken or an addition to roasted vegetables. I make a bigger batch, mix it with olive oil and keep a small jar of it in the fridge. 

Serves 4–6

SPICE BLEND:
½ teaspoon red pepper seeds
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon coriander
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon kosher salt

FISH:
2 pounds hake
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 3 cups)
½ cup white wine
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup prepared tomato sauce
½ cup basil, torn or cut
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450°F. Combine all the spices in a small bowl. Rub the fish with half the spice blend.

In a large ovenproof skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the remaining spice blend and stir for about a minute. Add onion and eggplant and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Turn the heat to high and add the wine. Once it comes to a boil, add tomato sauce and sugar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the hake and transfer to the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until fish is firm. Garnish with basil and serve immediately.

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Michael Floreak is a food writer who lives and often eats in Cambridge. His interviews with authors, chefs, writers, food policy experts and other characters from the food world have appeared regularly in the Boston Globe and To Market magazine. Michael holds a Master of Arts in Professional Writing from Carnegie Mellon University and recently completed a Master’s of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy from Boston University. In addition to writing about food, Michael works as a brand strategist and writer. You reach him by email at Michael.Floreak@gmail.com or follow on Twitter: @floreak.