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Recipe: Portuguese Pan Fried Hake Fillets with Tomato Rice

Cooking 50 min Preparation 20 min 4 medium
Recipe type: Fish Cuisine: Portuguese

If you’re not coming to Portugal for a fabulous food tour, then follow our recipe for a taste of Portuguese cuisine at home!

Arroz Carolino, the prized native rice of Portugal, is making its debut in this week’s feature recipe Filetes de Pescada com Arroz de Tomate (Pan-Fried Hake Fillets with Creamy Tomato Rice). Admittedly, we’re pretty excited about this, as it marks the first of many articles on easy and delicious Spanish and Portuguese dishes you can make at home. We’ve gone out of our way to ensure that plenty of substitutions are available to help you craft this dish no matter where you are in the world, along with a wine recommendation to help you expand your Iberian vinous horizons.

If you’re looking for more recipes, check out our book on Northern Portuguese Cuisine, or book a custom Portuguese food tour with us today!


Tomato Rice

  • 500 g (about 1 large cup) arroz carolino (or similar short-grain rice, such as Arborio)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, sliced thin (alternative: chopped zucchini)
  • ½ cup tomato purée
  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped (alternative: extra parsley)
  • 3 cups water or vegetable broth
  • Salt, to taste (preferred: Portuguese coarse sea salt)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (preferred: Portuguese brand)

Hake Filets

  • 1kg ( a little over 2lbs.) of frozen or fresh boneless, skinless hake fillets ( you could also use flounder, cod or tilapia)
  • 4 – 5 large garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 2 to 3 eggs, beaten
  • Flour, for breading
  • Sea salt
  • Oil/olive oil for frying


Tomato Rice

  1. In a large pot, sweat the chopped onion and garlic in olive oil, add the peppers and cook down until they become a bit soft and flexible, seasoning with a bit of salt.
  2. Add the chopped tomato and dry rice, mix a bit, then add the water (season with salt) or broth, cover and bring to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, reduce the heat and let it simmer, about 10-15mins, stirring occasionally.
  4. Once rice is ¾ of the way cooked, add the tomato purée, mix well and continue to cook on low, stirring more frequently to keep from sticking, and checking the seasoning.
  5. Once rice is fully-cooked, it should should still be very “wet”, like a creamy red sauce, do not let this rice become dry.
  6. Stir in the chopped parsley and cilantro and it’s ready to serve.

Pan-Fried Hake Fillets

  1. Season fillets with salt, juice of half a lemon and sliced garlic, mix well and let marinate for about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Take fillets directly from marinade and coat in flour, then egg (yes, in this order!).
  3. Heat up oil in a large sauté or sauce pan, fill to about a half-inch with oil, keep heat on medium to medium high (too high will burn before they cook).
  4. You can test the oil to see if it’s ready with a dash of flour or water to see if it sizzles.
  5. Gently place coated fillets into pan, about two at a time, turning a couple of times until golden brown.
  6. Remove and place on a paper-towel lined plate, cover with paper towels to soak up any excess oil.
  7. When you’re done frying the fillets, take the remaining garlic slices from the marinade and coat in flour, egg and fry until golden brown, remove and place within the paper towels (these are deliciously awesome!).
  8. Serve immediately with rice.

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