Hake with Cider and Apples

This dish might sound a little eccentric - fish, cider and apples aren't usually best friends - but somehow it works. The sauce adds a savoury depth of flavour and the apples provide a contrasting acidity. Although it's more typical of Normandy, the last time I came across this kind of combination was on the Île d'Oléron. And that's entirely appropriate because I find the Île d'Oléron pleasingly eccentric too.
L'île d'Oléron
To be honest, this dish isn't usually made with hake - cod or pollock would be more likely - but I'm very fond of hake so that's what I'm using. You could use pretty much any white fish you fancy. This is a little lighter than some similar northern French recipes but it's definitely not free from calories. Well, we are in Normandy after all. Or we might be on the Île d'Oléron for all I know.
Hake with Cider and Apples

This will serve 2.

1 large shallot, finely chopped
300 ml cider (a light, dry cider would be best)
2 apples (ideally a firm variety with a little acidity)
2 hake fillets
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1½ tbsp crème fraîche
Butter for frying

Fry the shallot gently in a little butter until softened. Pour in the cider, increase the heat and allow it to reduce by roughly two thirds. Pour through a fine sieve into a suitable container and discard the shallot. Set aside.

Peel, core and cut the apples into thick slices. Season the slices and fry them in a little butter until browned. Keep warm.

Fry the hake in a little butter. It's difficult to be precise about how long it will take to cook the hake - it will depend upon thickness - but 6 or 7 minutes will usually be enough. While the hake is frying reheat the cider sauce and gently whisk in the crème fraîche and mustard. Taste and correct the seasoning.

It's just an assembly job to serve. Arrange the apple slices on warmed plates, add the hake and pour on some of the sauce. Simply steamed or boiled potatoes and some green veg would complete the dish nicely.


  1. Phil, I don't cook fish often, but I'd like to try this sometime. I'm quite fond of other foods from Normandy I've found here on your blog! I'm just trying to wrap my mind around apples with fish. Must try it.

    1. Well I do admit that this isn't quite the usual combination but they've got a lot of fine apples, cider and dairy produce in Normandy and a long coastline with plenty of fresh fish so it was inevitable. It might not be to everyone's taste but I like it a lot.

  2. I have never had fish with apples but it sounds interesting and looks delicious.
    We hurtle through Normandy on our way to or from the UK or the Loire. We keep meaning to break the journey with a couple of days stay in this lovely part of France but somehow it hasn't happened yet. (Having a cat and dog with us makes it complicated.) One day we will.

    1. I do remember many, many years ago before I'd set foot in Normandy somebody saying to me that they thought Normandy was flat and dull. They then told me that they based their opinion on what they could see from the car window as they drove quickly through it. It turned out that the dullest , flattest bits of Normandy are the bits you can see from the roads.

  3. An unusual combination. Have visited Normandy many times, eaten their apples and drank their cider, but never with fish! Will certainly try it.

    1. I must admit that the first time I came across this sort of combination in a little restaurant in Dieppe I thought that the chef was either being gimmicky or had taken leave of his senses. Actually, I have it on pretty good authority that this is quite an old recipe in one form or another. It's not an obvious combination but why not?


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