Hake with Ham and Egg Stuffing

This unusual way of cooking hake originated in Spain, where the fish is known as Merluza. Serve it with sauteed potatoes and courgettes , and a light white wine such as a good Spanish Chablis.

2 hard-boiled eggs

6 oz. cooked ham, chopped

4 tablespoons stoned and chopped black olives

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 x

4 to

5 lb. hake, cleaned, with the backbone removed and the head and tail left on

1 teaspoon olive oil

4 large tomatoes, sliced

1 bay leaf

Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C).

In a small bowl, mash the hard-boiled eggs with a fork. Add the ham, olives, parsley, ½ teaspoon of salt and -1 teaspoon of pepper and mix well. Set the stuffing aside.

Wash the fish under cold running water and dry it thoroughly on kitchen paper towels. Place the fish on a wooden board and sprinkle

1 teaspoon of salt over it.

Line a baking dish, large enough to hold the fish, with aluminium foil, over-lapping the ends so that they may be used to enclose the fish. With the oil, lightly grease the foil.

Using a metal spoon, fill the fish with the prepared stuffing. Sew or skewer the fish together and place it in the prepared baking dish. Cover the fish with layers of tomatoes, and sprinkle over the remaining salt and pepper. Tuck the bay leaf between the layers and close the foil tightly.

Place the dish in the centre of the oven and bake for 1 hour. Remove the dish from the oven and transfer the whole fish to a warmed serving dish. Arrange the tomatoes over and around it and serve immediately.