Baked Hake Cigars

Onions, White Wine & Raisins, Saffron Yogurt

Recipe from Nathan’s 2023 cookbook, ‘Fish for Dinner’

“Believe it or not, this dish is ultra-simple and, once you have wrapped the fish in filo (phyllo) a few times, you will be a pro. Baked in the oven in a fat cigar shape, these parcels can be eaten with your hands, if you wish, so if you wanted to make them smaller to serve as nibbles before a meal, then go for it. They are perfect for that and will impress. Well, I think they will!” – Nathan

Alternative fish:
haddock, coley, ling, silver hake, cobia

Serves 4

800g (1lb 12oz) hake fillet, skinned and pin-boned
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
12 sheets of filo (phyllo) pasty
100g (3½ oz) unsalted butter, melted
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Green salad, to serve

For the filling
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 white onions, finely sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
½ teaspoon saffron strands 200ml (7fl oz) white wine
100g (3½ oz) golden raisins or normal raisins

For the saffron yogurt
200g 97oz) full-fat Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon saffron strands
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Enjoy 70 seafood recipes to cook at home with Nathan’s brand new book. ‘Fish for Dinner‘ out now.

TIP: I love hake. The texture of the flesh is chunky and soft when cooked and it’s perfect for people just getting into eating fish. However, it is a species that needs a little help to get it really tasty, and you do that by seasoning with more than just salt and pepper,

For best results begin the day before by taking the yogurt, and mixing with the saffron, garlic, lemon zest and juice, mint and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and mix together really well. If using straight away, set aside, or cover and place in the fridge for up to 3 days.

For the filling, heat the oil in a frying pan and, when hot, add the onion and spices and season with salt and pepper. Cook over a medium heat for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes, then add the saffron, white wine and raisins. Cook everything down for roughly 20 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to almost nothing and the onions are well stewed. Taste the onions at this point and season if required. Transfer the onion mix to a tray and spread out to cool. Once cool, portion into 12 equal little piles.

Preheat the oven to 180°C Fan (475°F), Gas Mark 6.

To make the cigar-shaped parcels, cut the hake into 12 equal-sized strips, similar in size to a fish finger. Season the fish with salt, pepper and almost all the spices, saving a pinch. Take the filo (phyllo) sheets and lay them on top of a clean, dry work surface. Make sure you keep them covered with a clean, damp cloth, otherwise they will dry out and crack when you fold the parcels. One by one, take a filo sheet and lay it in front of you.

Butter all over with a pastry brush and sprinkle with half the reserved spices. Add the second filo sheet and repeat. Cut the filo square in half to give 2 rectangles. Place a slice of hake to the front of the sheet and spread a portion of the onion mix evenly behind. Bring in the edges of the filo over the top of the fish and onions and then roll the parcel away from you, making sure it is wrapped tightly. Once you have a cigar/spring roll shape, transfer it to a greased or non-stick oven tray. Roll the rest.

Arrange the fish parcels on the baking tray. Make sure they are not touching, and use 2 trays if you have to. Just before cooking, brush the parcels with a little more butter and cook for 8 minutes. Turn the trays and cook for a further 8 minutes. When the parcels are golden and crispy. allow them to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve 3 of the hake cigars per portion with the saffron yogurt on the side and a green salad.