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hake with lemon couscous

Hake with lemon couscous, a delicious fish main. Pairing this great sustainable fish with the fresh flavours of the Mediterranean.

Hake with a lemon couscous is a dish that I love to prepare as it takes no time at all to cook and get on the table.

A closeup view of a dish of pan fried hake on a bed of lemon, pepper and courgette couscous with a grilled lemon on the side on a black plate.

Alongside eggs, fish is my favourite fast food. Full of protein, healthy and it takes minutes to cook.

I’m lucky as my family all love fish and therefore it’s a regular feature on our dinner table. My youngest has been known to ask why people mess around covering fish with batter and “stuff”?

She likes her fish “just pan fried please!” I have to say that when you get fish as fresh as the beautiful hake we cooked with here, I agree entirely.

A piece of pan fried hake on a bed of lemon couscous filled with red peppers and courgettes, on a black plate and a seared lemon on the side.

Why choose Hake fillet?

Hake is a great sustainable fish and therefore a fish we should be eating more of. A member of the cod family, Hake is a delicious fish to cook. That said it is still not as popular here in the UK as either Cod or Haddock.

The Spanish love hake and I suspect much of our catch in the UK lands on the Continent. This is a pity as it really is a great fish to eat and cook with. Thick flakes of beautiful white fish, pan fried and finished with just a little butter. Perfection!

Hake with Lemon Couscous – Recipe Steps:

Start by preparing the lemon couscous as this will take longer to cook than the fillets of hake.

How to cook lemon couscous?

Prepare all the recipe ingredients prior to cooking as this is a quick cook!
Diced red onions sauteeing in a fry pan.
Place a saucepan over a medium heat and pour in the olive oil. Add the onion to the pan and cook the onions gently for 5 minutes until they start to soften.
Diced red pepper, courgettes and garlic added to sauteed red onions.
Now add the courgette, pepper and garlic to the saucepan and continue to cook for a further minute.
Adding couscous to a pan of softened vegetables.
Add the couscous to the pan and give everything a cook stir to combine.
Adding lemon juice and zest to couscous.
Pour in the lemon juice and lemon zest and again give everything a good stir to combine.
Adding stock to a pan of vegetables and couscous to cook.
Finally, pour over the vegetable stock and take the saucepan off the heat.
Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and allow the couscous to steam for 5 minutes.
Once the couscous has absorbed all the stock, season with salt and pepper to taste and stir through the parsley and butter. Serve with the hake once the fish has cooked.

How to cook hake?

Once the lemon couscous is in the pan steaming, get on with the hake fillet recipe.

Hake is a great fish to cook with, lovely white flakes of beautifully flavoured fish. I prefer to cook it simply and pan fried hake is my favourite cooking method.

Pan fried hake, cooked quickly and at a high heat, gives lovely crispy skin, whilst maintaining lovely soft flakes of fish.

3 fillets of hake fish skin side up on a tray.
For this hake fillet recipe, start by cutting your hake fillets into individual portions, or you can ask your fishmonger to do this for you.
Place the fillets on kitchen paper to remove any excess moisture.
Seasoned hake fillets frying skin side down and lemon halves seared n the pan.
Place a non stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the sunflower oil. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper and place the fillets, skin side down, in the frying pan.
Cook the hake fillets for 3 minutes on this side. DO NOT move the fish, you want the skin to become crispy.
Crispy skined hake fillets in a hot frying pan.
Turn the fish over, add the butter and cook the fish for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and serve immediately with the couscous.

Recipe ingredients and substitutions:

  • Hake is used in this recipe as it is a great tasting, sustainable fish. However, you could substitute with any white fish. Cod, haddock, seabass or sea bream fillets would all work with the sharp lemon couscous.
  • Red onion adds a lovely mild flavour to the couscous, but you can use shallot or a brown onion if that’s what you have in your store.
  • Courgette, red pepper and garlic add flavour and some crunch to the soft couscous. However, you can add in other vegetables if you prefer: aubergine; sliced mushrooms; butternut squash; broccoli; spinach; garden peas. [NOTE: if cooking something like butternut squash you will have to cook the vegetables longer to soften the squash.]
  • Vegetable stock works well in the lemon couscous as it compliments the flavours in the dish and in no way overpowers the delicate flavour of the fish. If you don’t have vegetable stock you can use chicken stock as a substitute.
  • The zest and juice of one lemon is added to the couscous to add a burst of citrus flavour. If you want more lemon flavour, simply add another lemon, it is entirely down to personal taste.
  • The couscous is finished off with some chopped parsley. Parsley not only works well, alongside the lemon, within the couscous, but also compliments the fish. However, you could substitute the parsley with some fresh basil leaf if you prefer.
Looking straight ahead at an image of pan fried hake on vegetable and lemon couscous with a grilled lemon half on the side.

Handy hints and tips:

  1. To pan fry hake, or indeed any fillet of fish, the trick is to have the pan at a medium-high heat before you start cooking. I also recommend using a non-stick frying pan as this helps to stop the fish from sticking to the pan.
  2. When pan frying fish, if you want a crispy skin, start by cooking the fish skin side down and DO NOT move it about the pan. If you want the skin to crisp you have to move it as little as possible, only touching it when you are ready to turn it over to cook on the other side.
  3. Add more lemon flavour to this recipe, cook a lemon in the pan along with your fish. Cut the lemon in half and place flesh side down in the frying pan. You can then serve half a lemon on each plate, which you can then squeeze over the fish or the couscous to add a lovely buttery lemon flavour to the dish.
  4. The vegetables in this recipe are cooked for a relatively short amount of time as I wanted to retain the crunch of the vegetables alongside the soft couscous. If you prefer your vegetables softer, simply cook them a little longer.

Our thanks to Stephen at Peterhead Fish Company for supplying the beautiful fillets of hake used in this dish. For details of Stephen’s fish round and the fish he has available please head to his Facebook page and website for further details.

Pin the recipe:

a collage of 2 images of pan fried hake on a bed of lemon and vegetable couscous on a black plate with charred lemons on the side.

Additional recipe suggestions:

If you like this recipe then try some of our other simple fish dishes:

Looking for inspiration for feeding the family mid week, then take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Family Dinners. Full of useful hints, tips and recipes.

A closeup view of a dish of pan fried hake on a bed of lemon, pepper and courgette couscous with a grilled lemon on the side on a black plate.

Hake with lemon couscous

Hake with lemon couscous, a delicious fish main. Pairing this great sustainable fish with the fresh flavours of the Mediterranean.
4.85 from 20 votes
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 2 servings
Calories: 645kcal


Lemon Couscous

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 courgette (diced)
  • 1 red pepper (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 100 g couscous
  • 300 ml vegetable stock
  • 1 zest and juice of lemon (finely grated)
  • 20 g butter
  • 1 handful fresh parsley (chopped)

Pan fried Hake

  • 400 g hake fillet (skin on and cut into 200g portions)
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 10 g butter


  • Pour the olive oil to a saucepan and place over a medium heat. Add the onions to the pan and cook gently for 5 minutes taking care to soften but not colour the onion.
  • Add the courgette, pepper and garlic to the saucepan and continue to cook for a further minute. Then add the couscous, lemon zest and juice and stir well to combine.
  • Pour the vegetable stock over the couscous and take the pan off the heat. Cover with a lid and leave the couscous to steam for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile place a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the sunflower oil. Season both sides of the fish and place skin side down in the pan. Cook the fish for 3 minutes on this side then turn. Add a knob of butter, cook for a further 2 minutes and remove from the heat.
  • The couscous should now have absorbed all the stock, Season with salt and pepper, add the parsley and fork through the butter.
  • Spoon the couscous onto warm plates and place a fillet of hake on each. Serve immediately.


We have used fresh Hake fillets in this recipe, however you can easily substitute with other white fish. Sea bass or sea bream work just as well.
Nutrition Facts
Hake with lemon couscous
Amount Per Serving
Calories 645 Calories from Fat 243
% Daily Value*
Fat 27g42%
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Cholesterol 32mg11%
Sodium 875mg38%
Potassium 1349mg39%
Carbohydrates 58g19%
Fiber 7g29%
Sugar 10g11%
Protein 44g88%
Vitamin A 2795IU56%
Vitamin C 127.8mg155%
Calcium 142mg14%
Iron 3.6mg20%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

• Please note that the nutrition information provided above is approximate and meant as a guideline only •

Course : Main Course
Cuisine : British
Keyword : Pescetarian, Sustainable
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Recipe Rating

Shirley Cook

Friday 25th of February 2022

Loved this recipe really simple and fresh thank you !


Monday 28th of February 2022

Thank you Shirley, I'm glad you enjoyed this simple fish dish, it's one of my favourite ways to cook fish.


Saturday 5th of September 2020

Sorry, but the couscous was dull. One minute wasn’t enough to cook the pepper and courgette and there wasn’t enough lemon. I won’t be making this again.

Andrew Redfern

Saturday 5th of February 2022

I thought the recipe was fabulous. I replaced courgette with petit pois, only because that was what I had, but I don't think it was the lesser for it. Superb


Tuesday 8th of September 2020

Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy the couscous. The reason the pepper and courgette is cooked for such a short length of time is so that it remains crunchy. The couscous is soft, as is the fish so we like to keep the vegetables very much on the al-dente side However, as with all recipes, if you want to cook the vegetables a little longer then please do so. Likewise, if you wish to add more lemon to the the dish then again please do so. It's always better to add a smaller quantity and add more if you think you need it as you can always add, but never takeaway. This is particularly important when flavouring with lemon as you don't want it coming through too soapy on the dish.

Dianne Carter

Thursday 18th of June 2020

Such an easy dish to make, but absolutely delicious. Loved The Mediterranean flavours and perfect at the moment for a fresh, summer dish. A bonus in fact that, except for cooking the fish, it’s all made in one dish. I added two chopped mushrooms because we love our vegetables. Go for it, you won’t be disappointed.


Tuesday 23rd of June 2020

Thank you Dianne, this is my favourite summer fish dish and like you say - all the easier as the couscous is cooked in one pan! Like your idea of adding chopped mushrooms, they would work really well in the dish. Lesley x


Saturday 28th of September 2019

Aw this looks lush ! hHave been trying to mix up my lunches to be more interesting so think I'm going to try this out this week !


Saturday 28th of September 2019

Thank you Susan it’s such a lovely dish and cooked in minutes! Lesley x

Eb Gargano | Easy Peasy Foodie

Monday 22nd of July 2019

What a beautiful summery dish. I love simple fish dishes so this is right up my street :-D Eb x


Monday 22nd of July 2019

Thanks Eb, simple fish is one of the best fast foods isn’t it!? Cheers. Michelle.