Here’s another fish recipe that’s gone down a treat in our house. We use hake as it’s cheap and mild in flavour but any firm white fish would also work with this recipe. The cheesy sauce is really quick and easy to make with store cupboard ingredients. Any left-over sauce can be used to top a jacket potato, popped onto broccoli or cauliflower for an instant cauliflower-cheese or whizzed up with some steamed spinach to make a fab green-cheesy sauce for pasta! Make too much cheesy sauce, you won’t regret it!
For the fish:
- Hake fillets– I use 2 for 3 children’s portions or 1 per adult
- 2 table spoons of plain flour on a plate, seasoned with a few grinds each of salt and pepper
- 1 dessert spoon of oil- we have just discovered rape seed oil, it’s cheaper than olive oil but just as good for you and is better for frying as you can take it up to higher temperatures
For the sauce:
- Large knob of butter
- 1 table spoon of plain flour
- 200ml milk (approx)
- 50g cheddar cheese, grated. We use mild or medium cheddar- choose your cheese to your taste.
- Salt and pepper- you may not need any salt, depending on the cheese you use
- Chop each hake fillet into 3 pieces to end up with one thicker piece (this is to ensure the thinner sections don’t over cook while making sure the thicker section is cooked through)
- If the fillets were frozen, pat them dry with kitchen towel
- Coat each piece thoroughly in the seasoned flour and shake off any excess
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan on a low heat
- Add the flour and keep stirring- don’t panic, it is meant to look like this!
- Once the flour and butter are combined into a paste (a roux), add half the milk and keep stirring- don’t panic, the lumps will go, just keep stirring!!!
- As the sauce heats up, it will become smooth and begin to thicken, at this point, add the rest of the milk
- It might seem to go lumpy again, just keep stirring! You’ve made a basic béchamel sauce.
- When the sauce begins to bubble, time for 2 minutes (this ensures the flour is cooked) while continuing to stir
- At this point you may need to add a splash more milk if your sauce looks a little too thick. You are aiming for the sauce to coat the back of the spoon, if you can run the spoon through the sauce and the gap doesn’t close immediately behind, it’s a bit thick!
- Once any extra milk has been incorporated, stir in 2/3’s of the grated cheese, remove from the heat and leave the cheese to melt
- Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat (if it begins to smoke, it’s too hot)
- Place the thicker pieces of fish into the frying pan first (they should sizzle on contact if the pan is hot enough) and cook for 2 minutes
- Add the thinner pieces and turn the thicker ones
- Turn the thinner pieces after 1 minute- they should be golden in colour
- After another minute the fish should be cooked through and golden on both sides
- Timings may vary so please check the fish is cooked through
- Stir the melted cheese into the sauce and season with salt and pepper as necessary
- Serve with mash potato and steamed veg with a drizzle of sauce over the top and a sprinkle of the remaining cheddar cheese.
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