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Hake, with merguez cauliflower, chard & harissa mayonnaise

This subtly spicy dish makes the most of the humble cauliflower, an underrated and often maligned vegetable which has inherited a poor reputation from years of being boiled to within an inch of its life. Roasting this beautiful and versatile vegetable really brings it to life.


Pre-heat an oven to 180 c, place the florets of cauliflower on to a baking tray and massage the olive oil into the florets, sprinkle over the merguez spice and preserved lemon and thoroughly rub into the cauliflower, season with sea salt and pepper. Place in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes or until the florets just start to soften, do not let them turn to mush! Remove and set aside.

Mix the mayonnaise with the harissa and put to one side.

Take a heavy based frying pan, big enough to fit the fish with room to spare, and heat until it starts to smoke. Season the hake with sea salt, add a little light oil to the pan and then add the hake skin side down, place a little pressure on the top of the fish to keep the skin in contact with the pan.

Once the skin has crisped, turn the fish over, add the butter and remove from the heat and set aside for 3-4 minutes as the residual heat in the pan will complete the cooking.

Lightly wilt the spinach or chard in a little oil in a pan on the stove top.

To plate, place the cauliflower, add the chard and then the fish, pour over any remaining oil from the baking tray and butter from the fish and add a good dollop of the harrisa mayonnaise. Finish with a squeeze of lemon to give the dish a beautiful citrus hit.

To make the Merguez Spice

Toast all the seeds in a hot oven until they release their flavours, bash lightly in a pestle and mortar then mix with the rest of the spices. This is a great spice for veg, meat and fish well worth making a batch and keeping in the cupboard for every occasion.

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  • 1 preserved lemon, finely diced
  • 1 small cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 100g of good quality bought or home-made mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp harissa
  • 100g chard/spinach picked and washed
  • 2 x 150g portions of line caught Cornish hake
  • 2 tablespoons of good quality or home-made merguez spice (see recipe below)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 knob of butter
  • ½ a lemon

Merguez Spice

  • 10g coriander seeds
  • 10g caraway seeds
  • 10g cumin seeds
  • 10g fennel seeds-
  • 10g paprika
  • A couple of pinches of cayenne pepper (add as much as your spice tolerance will take!!)

This recipe is taken from...

Executive Head Chef Gelf Alderson

Gelf is responsible for creating the inspiring food we offer at River Cottage HQ and our River Cottage Kitchens, using food that is farmed locally, sourced from our kitchen garden, or foraged from the surrounding area.