Pity the green pepper, no wonder it’s a little bitter, here in the UK its sole function is to ‘add a bit of colour’ to that dull and unwanted guest at every barbecue, picnic or family gathering* – the rice and sweetcorn salad. Not so in Spain where the pimiento verde is treated with the respect it deserves and makes an appearance in many a tasty tapas, such as…
* No not uncle Stuart.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35–45 minutes
Makes: 3 – an odd number, but enough for 2 people
Skill level: easy – medium
- 3 large green peppers – pnarfff
- hake steaks (or fillets) – 250g
- butter – 50g
- plain flour – 50g
- manchego – grated – 200g
- full-fat milk – 560ml (1 pint)
- 2 bay leaves
- nutmeg – pinch/grating
Drop the whole green peppers into a pot of salted boiling water, cover and simmer for 5–8 minutes until just tender. Remove from the water and set aside to cool a little. When cool enough to handle, cut off and discard the top of the peppers and surgically remove the seeds and pith.
Stand upright in a suitably sized oven-proof dish and set aside.
Meanwhile place your hake steaks/fillets in a deep sided frying pan along with two bay leaves and pour over a pint of milk.
Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer very gently for 5–10 minutes (turning halfway through) until the fish is cooked and starting to flake.
Remove the fish and set aside to cool a little. Pour the milk through a sieve and keep for the sauce.
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a pan and add the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon for a minute to form a smooth paste.
Gradually add the fishy milk and keep stirring until it thickens. Turn down to a very low heat and let it bubble away for 15 minutes to cook off the flour. Stir frequently to prevent sticking/burning.
As your sauce is cooking, skin, de-bone and flake the fish. Season with salt and pepper.
Back to the sauce … after the 15 minutes are up add the grated cheese along with a pinch/grating of nutmeg. When the cheese has melted, add the fish.
Stir, taste and season with salt and pepper.
Spoon this fish/cheese mixture into the green peppers – you might have a little left over so either eat it now as the chef’s perk, or serve up alongside.
The dish could be prepared in advance up to this point.
When you are ready to eat, preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7.
Place in the oven for 15 minutes by which time the top should be nicely browned.
Serve with salad and a chunk of bread to mop up the sauce … or rice salad.
Verdict: It’s fish in a cheese sauce – you do the maff. This was never going to be anything other than tasty comfort food. Perfect Sunday night fodder.
Drink: A shocking £4.00 pint of Veltins at The Works, Sowerby Bridge, slightly compensated for by an experimental £3.49 bottle of red from the Co-op.
Entertainment: The disjointed, low-rent, corporate unextravaganza of the Olympic closing ceremony. We’ve gone from the soaring ‘adrenaline pumping, ear purging slab of towering, pristine noise’ that is Fuck Buttons to the autotuned android in spray-on snakeprint depths of Jesse J in just two short weeks. Business as usual at GB plc.