*This recipe is gluten-free according to industry standards
Confit was traditionally a preservation method, perfected in south-west France where it became a speciality.
First, duck or goose was salted, which further protected the meat, and then slowly cooked in its own fat. It was then left to cool completely, still in the fat, until solidified. A coat of fat meant that any bacteria would be starved of oxygen, so the meat wouldn’t spoil.
We’re not looking to preserve anything with this fish recipe. Instead we’re going to use the method to make the most of the rich unctuousness that gently cooking in fat brings. Here we’re using hake instead of meat, but the same key principles apply.
5 easy steps to the perfect confit fish
1. GENTLY DOES IT
Cooking fish very gradually in oil changes its texture. The firm white flesh turns soft and flaky – making it melt in the mouth. The low temperature gently poaches the fish all the way through, meaning there’s little risk of fluffy, overcooked fish.
Oil is a great vehicle for imparting botanicals into the ingredients you’re cooking. In this recipe, the oil becomes infused with tomatoes, sage, coriander seeds and peppercorns, which in turn imparts the flavours into the fish.
3. EXTRA FLAVOUR
In almost every aspect of cooking, fat lends flavour. Gently cooking lean white fish and vegetables in oil means you’re transforming humble ingredients into something more decadent. Even when drained really well, they will retain a satisfying unctuousness.
4. REUSE OIL
It may seem wasteful using all that oil, but don’t throw it away. Once it has cooled completely, pour it through a fine sieve, discarding any juices that will have collected at the bottom of the tin/dish, and keep in a sealed jar. Use it as normal oil when cooking savoury dishes to add depth. It’s good for one week.
5. SNUG FIT
To limit the amount of oil you use, make sure everything is tightly packed in the dish. The more space around the ingredients, the more oil you’ll need. Just remember to leave enough room for the fish.
- cherry tomatoes on the vine 2 bunches (about 225g)
- fennel a small bulb, thinly sliced
- red peppers 2, cut into quarters
- garlic 1 bulb, top cut off
- black peppercorns 1 tsp
- coriander seeds 2 tsp
- sage a handful of leaves
- olive oil about 1.5 litres
- hake 4 fillets
- green salad dressed with sherry vinegar, to serve
- crusty bread to serve
- Kcals 385
- Fat 24.2g
- Saturates 3.5g
- Carbs 9.2g
- Sugars 5.7g
- Fibre 5.5g
- Protein 29.9g
- Salt 0.5g