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  • 2.25 litre/4 pint water

  • 1 slice lemon

  • 1 tbsp salt

  • 750-900g/1½-2lb hake fillet, skin on

  • 75g/3oz unsalted butter

  • 15g/½oz flour

  • 570ml/1 pint full-cream milk

  • 25g/1oz fresh parsley, stalks removed and chopped


  • 1.

    Put the water, lemon and salt in a large pan. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.

  • 2.

    Add the hake and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to finish cooking gently in the cooking liquid.

  • 3.

    Melt 25g/1oz butter in a heavy-based pan and sprinkle over the flour. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon to mix, then cook until the mixture smells nutty.

  • 4.

    Gradually pour in the milk, stirring all the time, to make a smooth sauce. Add 290ml/½ pint of the fish cooking liquid and leave to simmer for 12 minutes.

  • 5.

    Drain the hake and cut into 4 portions. Place on four warmed plates. Stir the chopped parsley and the rest of the butter into the sauce.

  • 6.

    Pour the sauce over half the fish. I think dishes like this look more attractive if the fish is only partly covered. Serve with some potatoes boiled in salted water and a sprig of mint.

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