RECIPE | Rafu’s winning hake and creamy mushroom pasta

Hake coated in homemade garam masala, crispy za’atar bread with garlic, and a creamy mushroom pasta.
Hake coated in homemade garam masala, crispy za’atar bread with garlic, and a creamy mushroom pasta.
Image: Supplied

Hake coated in homemade garam masala, crispy za’atar bread with garlic, and creamy mushroom pasta.

Serves 2


½ tsp cumin
¾ cup flour
5 leaves sage
½ tsp cinnamon
1 ½  tsp smoked paprika
1 cup uncooked pasta
1 ½ tsp chilli flakes
½ tsp garlic powder
½ onion
¾ tsp coriander
3/4 tsp salt
2 black mushrooms
¾ tsp cardamom
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp garlic
1 ¾ tsp black pepper
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp fresh thyme
¼ tsp nutmeg
200g butternut
½ cup chardonnay
½  lemon
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup cream
400g hake fillet
3 sprigs rosemary
1 tbsp fresh parsley
3 tbsp za’atar
½ tsp instant yeast
1 tbsp sour cream


For the garam masala:

Use a spice blender or mortar and pestle to grind ½ tsp (cumin, cinnamon, chilli flakes), ¾ tsp (coriander, cardamom, black pepper), ¼ tsp nutmeg. These need to be finely ground.

For the fish:

Cut your skinless hake fillets into 2 equal pieces. Mine were about 200g each.

Check for and remove any bones by running your fingers through the surface of the fish. Wash the fish with cold water and pat it dry using paper/kitchen towels.

Take 1 tbsp of the garam masala made above, mix it with 1 tbsp of flour, 1 tsp of smoked paprika and ½ tsp of garlic powder, ½ tsp salt.

Sprinkle this mixture all over the fish on both sides. Pat it into the fish and make sure it has stuck.

On medium-high heat, use a skillet and add 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter.

Transfer the fish to the pan while the butter is bubbling. Do not move the fish at all for the first 3 minutes.

Turn it over, squeeze in the juice of ½ a lemon all over the fish and pan and cook for 3 — 4 minutes on the other side. Watch your heat. Don’t be scared to turn it down if your fish seems to be browning too quickly. Remove from the pan and cover with foil.

For the butternut:          

Cut the pealed butternut into 1 square cm cubes. I used 150 — 200g of the butternut because it was a topping.

Place it into a shallow oven pan. Depending on how sweet you butternut is, you might need to add a sprinkle of sugar, along with a little salt, 1 tsp chilli flakes, ½ tsp smoked paprika, 1 tbsp olive oil.

Add 3 whole sprigs of fresh rosemary, about 5 fresh sage leaves.

Stir this to ensure that the butternut is coated with all the seasoning before going into the oven on the bake option for between 20 — 30 minutes, to slightly brown and crisp up. Check it every 10 minutes to stir. Once done, set aside for later.

For the pasta:        

I used 1 cup of uncooked pasta, cook it as suggested on the packaging. Be careful not to overcook. Leave it still al dente.

Drain and run it under cold water to make sure the pasta tubes do not stick together while it sits.

In the same pan used for cooking fish, add ½ a thinly diced onion and sauté it until it is translucent on low to medium heat. Don’t rush this or burn it.

Add 2 thinly sliced black mushrooms to the pan. Let them caramelise and become half the size.

The stove it now on medium to high heat and you are stirring constantly so as not to burn anything.

Add 2 tbsp of finely minced garlic and 1 tbsp of picked thyme. Continue stirring until the garlic is fragrant.

Add ½ cup of good chardonnay. Let it cook down until it reduces back to half the volume.

Add 1 cup of cream and reduce the heat to medium.

Stir throughout and add in up to 1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper.

Add salt to taste. It is very important to taste and adjust at this stage.

Mix in the cooked pasta and some torn parsley to serve.

For the bread:

Mix 2/3 of a cup of flour with 1 tsp za’atar, ½ tsp instant yeast, 1 tbsp sour cream, a pinch of salt, 1 tbsp olive oil, add warm water 1 tbsp at a time until the dough is a soft but firm consistency.

Knead for 5 minutes then cover to prove for at least 45 minutes.

Flour the surface after proving.

Transfer the dough there and stretch it out by hand or rolling pin until it's the thickness of pizza.

Melt 2 tbsp of butter and add 1 tbsp of garlic and 1 tbsp of za’atar to the butter. Use a spoon or pastry brush to cover the entire surface with this butter. Transfer this to the oven to cook until its golden brown and crispy.


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