Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Blackened Hake with Chive Aioli

The word “aioli” derives from the French for garlic (“ail”) and oil (“oli”) and has come to define a delicious garlicky mayonnaise in culinary terms. But not just any mayonnaise. True aioli is based on fresh mayo made with whisked egg yolk and olive oil.

That said, take note: This recipe uses raw egg yolk, which is a concern for some. If you choose not to use raw yolk, make the aioli with store-bought pasteurized yolk. The richness won’t be as prominent but the taste will still be fresh. And if you do use a raw yolk, make sure the egg is very fresh—preferably from a local farm where the chickens are free-range, vegetarian fed, and antibiotic-free with no added hormones.

Aioli is commonly served with sautéed or grilled vegetables or with fish. Here, I wanted to start the hake with spicy blackened flavor, then top it off with the creamy, garlicky fresh sauce to balance the spice with a little cool.

I used cooked brown lentils as a bed for the fish, but rice or couscous would work well too. And if you’re not familiar with hake, check out Fried Hake with Mustard Cream and Seared Vegetables.   

Serves 2


For the Aioli
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (preferably flaked)
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
Chive Aioli Ingredients
For the Blackened Hake
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne
  • 2 6-oz. skinless hake filets, about 1/2 inch in thickest part
  • olive oil for rubbing, plus 1 tbsp
  • sea salt
  • 1 cup cooked lentils, for serving
Blackening Spices

For the Aioli
  1. Place the garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle with salt. Mash the garlic and salt together with the back of a fork to form a coarse paste.
Garlic and Salt 
Garlic and Salt Paste
  1. Whisk the egg yolk, lemon juice, and mustard in a medium bowl. Scrape the garlic paste into the egg mixture and stir to loosen the paste.
Whisked Yolk, Lemon, and Mustard
  1. Very slowly—and beginning with a drop at a time—whisk in the olive oil. As the mixture begins to emulsify, add the oil in a fine stream, whisking constantly until all the oil is incorporated and the mixture is emulsified. (If it begins to separate, stop adding oil and continue whisking until the mixture comes together. Then continue whisking in the remaining oil.)
  2. The aioli will be slightly thinner than commercial mayonnaise. Once the desired consistency is reached, stir in the chopped chives.
  3. Cover the aioli and refrigerate at least 1 hour (may be made 1 day ahead). Bring to room temperature before serving.
Chive Aioli
For the Blackened Hake
  1. Combine the black pepper, chile powder, and cayenne in a small bowl. Rub the hake with olive oil then cover with the spice mixture and rub in well. Let rest 10 minutes.
Hake with Blackening Rub
  1. Heat a large, heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. Season the filets with salt and sear until blackened on the bottom, 3 minutes. Turn and sear until blackened on the other side and just cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Remove the filets to a plate and let rest 2 minutes.
Hake Beginning to Cook 
Blackened Hake
To serve, divide the lentils in the middle of 2 plates. Place 1 filet each on top of the lentils and dollop with chive aioli. Serve right away.

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