Fish with pistachio & cauliflower sauce & kindzmari
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 hake fillets
pistachio & cauliflower sauce
1/2 small cauliflower, divided into florets
2 shallots, peeled and halved
25g (1oz) unsalted butter
200ml (7fl oz) warm chicken, fish or
small pinch of saffron threads
70g (21/2oz) pistachios or walnuts, toasted
sea salt flakes and freshly ground
25g (1oz) bunch of coriander, stalks and all,
2 green chillies, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup or clear honey
sea salt flakes, to taste
to serve (if you want to be fancy)
floured and shallow-fried shallot rings (or
toasted flaked almonds or crispy seaweed)
herbs or micro leaves
To make the pistachio & cauliflower sauce, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4.
Pop the cauliflower florets and halved shallots on to a baking tray, dot around the butter and
pour over half the chicken stock. Season well with salt. Crush the saffron with a little sea salt
using a pestle and mortar and add that as well.
Roast the vegetables for about 30 minutes until the liquid has gone and they look soft and
caramelized. If the cauliflower catches a little bit at the edges, it’s not a problem, and the
same applies to the shallots – you need them to have colour for the sauce to be flavoursome.
Grind the pistachios in a powerful food processor (or use an electric spice or coffee grinder)
into a powder. Then blitz the shallots and cauliflower with the ground nuts in a blender or
food processor until the mixture is super smooth, adding some more of the warm stock if the
mixture needs help to blend. It should be the consistency of double cream, but if your blender
or processor is not strong enough to produce a completely smooth sauce, don’t worry – it will
still taste good. Taste and season some more if you feel that it’s still under-seasoned.
To make the kindzmari sauce, blitz all the ingredients in (again!) a powerful blender or food
processor. The resulting mixture should be quite liquid but smooth, without any bits of
stalk, and the flavour should be primarily sour but also spicy and a tiny bit sweet. You can
drop the maple syrup or honey for a more authentically tart version, but I like the hint of
sweetness here. The sauce may turn a dark, muddy green, but who cares as long as it’s delicious!
To cook the hake, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F), Gas Mark 6.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan with an ovenproof handle. Season the fish skin with salt and
pop it down into the hot oil. After a minute, shake the pan gently so that the skin doesn’t
get stuck. Cook for 2 minutes, then flip the fish over and transfer the pan to the oven for a
further 5–7 minutes (depending on the thickness of your fillet) to finish cooking it.
To serve the fancy way, put some slightly warmed cauliflower sauce on a plate, dot around
a spoonful of kindzmari and then add the hot fish skin side up. Scatter over the shallots or
almonds, seaweed, herbs or pomegranate seed garnish, if using.
I’ve used pistachios here because I love them, although walnuts would be more traditional,
but I don’t see a problem with using any nut you fancy and I struggle to find good walnuts in
the UK – just use the best you can get hold of. Quality is what’s important here.
A piece of expertly cooked pork fillet would not be out of place here instead of the fish. I have
also made this using scallops, or if you want to go vegetarian, fry a cauliflower steak in some
butter and a little oil until caramelized.