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Christmas Eve Feast, Hake Fillets with Clams in Salsa Verde.

Christmas Eve Feast, Hake Fillets with Clams in Salsa Verde.

Hake Fillets with Clams in Salsa Verde.

Serves 4
Difficulty: intermediate

24 Manila or small littleneck clams
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
4 cups water
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 !/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 pounds hake fillet, cut into 16 pieces
4 white asparagus, freshly cooked or canned, halved crosswise
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered lengthwise, for garnish
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Scrub the clams under cold running water, discarding any that fail to close to the touch. In a large bowl, combine the clams, coarse salt, and water to cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours so that the clams release any sand trapped in their shells. Drain.

In a large saucepan, combine the clams with the 4 cups water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, or until they open. As the clams cook, uncover the pan occasionally and stir with a wooden spoon to encourage them all to open at about the same time. Drain the clams, reserving the cooking liquid. Discard any clams that have not opened.

In a large cazuela, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, if using, and fry, stirring often, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the garlic begins to turn golden. Sprinkle the flour over the garlic and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is well blended. Add 3 cups of the reserving cooking liquid and the salt, parsley and wine. Decrease the heat to medium and boil, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens slightly. Add more cooking liquid if you prefer a thinner sauce. Rotate the cazuela in circular motions over the burner to mix all the ingredients, and boil gently for 2 minutes, or until the sauce is blended and looks whitish green.

Sprinkle the hake pieces with the salt and place in a single layer in the sauce. Cook, turning once, for 2 minutes on each side, or until opaque at the center when tested with a knife tip. Add the clams and asparagus, shake the pan gently to prevent sticking, and simmer for 2 more minutes so heat all the ingredients through.
Garnish with the egg wedges and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve immediately.

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