Flakey fillets of hake, packed with a herb and garlic infused butter, then fried till crunchy and golden.
My original plan was to make this recipe with cod, but Fergal my fish monger had these beautiful fillets of thick, flakey hake. They looked so fresh that they might have just jumped out of the sea and onto the counter. So I just had to buy some.
Hake is now cheaper than cod but I can remember when the opposite were true. I suppose the laws of supply and demand mean that cod been the more popular has increased in price as the cod population has diminished. But you can make this dish with any large fillet of flakey white fish. Cod, hake, whiting or haddock would all work well.
This is a fishy version of the classic Russian dish that’s normally made with chicken and was really popular in restaurants during the 80’s. I made my first Kiev at age 15 when I had a job washing pots in a local steak house. Chefs been chefs they’d ring in sick or simply not turn up for work so I was often called on to do some of the more boring jobs.
I can still remember the day a chef called Sean showed me how to bone out a chicken (the breasts didn’t come in nicely trimmed and vacuum packed back then) stuff it with garlic butter and bread crumb it. I was hooked, and chicken Kiev is a dish I’ve made countless times since over the years for family and friends. If you’ve never made one from scratch you should give it a go, you won’t regret it. The ready meals and frozen ones down the supermarket simply can’t compete. There a great article here all about how to make the perfect Kiev.
The hake Kiev is all about the garlic butter, you’ve got to make sure it stays locked inside and won’t leak out during cooking. Here are some pointers to make sure your butter stays where it’s supposed to.
Keeping Your Garlic Butter In The Kiev
Get your fish monger to give you the thickest part of the fish fillet from close to the head. If it’s too skinny you won’t be able to get the garlic butter inside without piercing the skin or flesh.
Make sure you don’t pierce the skin or the flesh when cutting the pocket in the fish for the butter.
Double or even triple coat the fish with bread crumbs, not only will the butter stay inside but it will be extra crispy when you fry it.
Chill the hake well before you cook it. I recommend at least an hour, 2 if you have time. This gives the butter inside a chance to chill and harden.
Make sure your oil is hot when you put the fish in. This seals up the fish. Starting in cold oil will almost guarantee it leaks.
Even though I fancy myself as a bit of a Kiev expert I still make a leaky one from time to time. If it happens to you, don’t sweat it. All the molten garlic butter has to pass through the flakey flesh to escape. leaving it moist, succulent and absolutely delicious.