600g hake, with bones

300ml vegetable oil

100ml olive oil

1 crushed garlic

1 bay leave

½ lime

6 capers

1 whole egg


15ml olive oil

15ml ajillo (1 garlic clove, 1 handful of parsley & 100ml olive oil – blended)

1g smoked paprika

0.5g Maldon salt

1 sliced radish, sliced

Chopped chives

Micro basil


Hake al pilpil s a healthy dish high in protein. European hake is caught close to home and stocks have been replenished. For this reason European hake is rated 1 & 2 by the MSC and is therefore a recommended fish to eat. This is a no waste dish, using all parts of the fish from meat, to bones, to juices.

We buy our olive oil from Arbequina from South of Spain, our fresh fruit and vegetables are organic and come from Natoora and our fish is from the south coast of England, coming on a daily basis from boats across the south.

The fishing boats in the English Channel have been reduced by about 60% in the last twenty years and with added protection policies in force, there is a natural balance in the English Channel, not only keeping fish stocks at a constant rate but also increasing the fish stocks in the English Channel, year on year. The policies for the south coast boats include:

  1. Limited days at sea for the larger boats
  2. Trawler mesh sizes to allow smaller fish through
  3. Smaller quotas on fishing to stop over fishing on species such as cod, haddock and dover sole
  4. Minimum size increase of fish such as bass
  5. Trap doors in trawls to allow dolphins to escape
  6. Fisherman’s fishing scheme to keep an eye on catch levels

All these measures will allow for long term sustainability along the south coast. So, no longer will fish be over harvested for short term profits and the fishing industry will be here for our children’s children.


Preheat the oven to 180C.

Clean the hake of guts and scales. Keep the head and spine. Cut the fillets into 150g portions and keep in the fridge. Cut the spine in pieces. Clean the head and get rid of the eyes and the guts. Put the spine and the head in water with ice for at least 30 mins to discard any trace of blood. Pat dry the spines and head.

In a deep pot combine the spine, head, oil, capers, lime and the bay leaf and bring it to simmer for 1 hour and a half. Make sure it doesn’t go above 60ºC. Pass it through a fine sieve pressing down the bones to get all the collagen (fish juices and proteins).

Separate the oil from the collagen by carefully pouring the oil off into another container (this is not needed). Using a stick blender, in a tall jug, blend the collagen on a slow speed with the egg.  Add the oil slowly, it will start thickening, keep adding the oil until is finished. Season to taste. Keep it in a container.

In a small pan add some olive oil place the hake skin facing down. Cook it for 4 minutes and finish it in the oven at 180ºC for 2-3 mins. Pour some of the pil-pil sauce on top of the hake and place under the grill until it is golden brown (a minute). Transfer the hake to a plate and drizzle with ajillo. Season with salt and smoked paprika.

Finish with some chopped chives and sliced radish and basil leaves to garnish.

Abel at Mercato Metropolitano

A bit of the history of pil-pil sauce

“Pil-pil” sauce has its origin with the cod fish and the name “pil-pil” refers to the noise made by the oil when it starts to boil. The origin of this jewel from the Basque gastronomy in northern Spain has a lot of legend and a bit of reality. The story comes from the late nineteenth Century, a trader from Bilbao ended up receiving an order of 2,022 cod by mistake. By a stroke of fate, Bilbao was going through a period of war and the merchant made his fortune with his surplus of cod. The shortage of ingredients also gave rise to an emulsion sauce based on garlic, oil, and chilli peppers and this is how the world-famous cod pil-pil came about.

Sources fish sustainably
Sources fish sustainably
Wastes no food
Wastes no food