Mimi Weissenborn’s Recipe for Hake with Roasted Fennel, Potage, and Tapenade

The chef at Portland’s Sur Lie and Yarmouth’s Gather says you must resist the urge to sear the flaky groundfish.

Hake with Roasted Fennel, Potage, and Tapenade
By Alexandra Hall
Photographed and prepared by Derek Bissonnette
From our December 2023 issue

“Elevated grandmother cooking” is how Weissenborn sums up her oeuvre. “I create things that feel like a warm hug and are full of humble ingredients,” she says. That certainly rings true for this hake dish. “Everyone knows cod and haddock,” she says, “but the potage here is hearty, and hake’s light, clean flakiness offsets that.” The result strikes the perfect balance for a holiday meal, she says, “because it’s both rich and delicate.”

Serves 6

For the tapenade

  • 4½  cups pitted olives, mix of Kalamata and green
  • 12  oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 9  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3  tablespoons capers
  • 1½  tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3  cloves garlic
  • 1⅓  cups fresh basil or parsley

For the potage

  • 6 medium fennel bulbs, sliced (save some fennel fronds for garnish)
  • 6 medium onions, sliced
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 9 cups heavy cream 
  • 6 tablespoons fennel seed
  • salt 

For the roasted fennel

  • 3 medium fennel bulbs, sliced ¼-inch thick
  • olive oil 
  • salt 

For the hake

  • 2½ pounds hake (6 portions of 6–7 ounces)
  • salt 
  • pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • sea salt 

Directions

Tapenade: Put the olives, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, capers, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until combined but still chunky. Add the fresh herbs and pulse again. Set aside. (Can be made up to a day ahead.)

Potage: In a pan on medium heat, cook the fennel and onions in olive oil until both are translucent. Add the cream and fennel seed. Cook on low heat while stirring, 10–15 minutes or until the cream is reduced by half. Transfer to a blender, working in small portions if needed, and blend on high until smooth. Season with salt and set aside.

Roasted fennel: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the fennel with olive oil and salt and roast in the oven until golden brown, 15–18 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover with tinfoil to keep warm.

Fish: Turn the oven to 400 degrees. Season the hake on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a nonstick, oven-safe sauté pan on medium-high heat. Once the oil is sizzling, gently lay the fish skin-side down and cook for 3–4 minutes. Finish cooking in the oven for 7–8 minutes, until white and flaky. 

Serve: While the fish is cooking, warm the potage in a saucepan on the stove. Divide the potage between 6 wide, shallow bowls, place a hake filet in the center of each, add roasted fennel, and sprinkle with sea salt. Divide the tapenade among the bowls, topping the fish. Garnish with fennel fronds. 

Down East Magazine, March 2024 cover

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