What is Hake?  Some facts and recipes

With the issues surrounding the sustainability of eating fish, it only makes sense for us to consider the not-so-popular fish for consumption. Hake is an example of such fish, especially that research from the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) has found that it is one of the most sustainable fish in the UK.

So, let’s get to know hake better.

Hake belong to the cod family, Gadidae. Although, because of differences in the skull and ribs, they may be classified as a separate family, Merlucciidae. They have an elongated body with silvery-gray scales on the back and white scales on the belly. They have a large head and eyes, and their mouth is wide with large, sharp teeth.

Found throughout the Atlantic, in the eastern Pacific, and along New Zealand, they stay in deeper waters in daytime, usually between 75 to 400 metres in depth. They are nocturnal – they swim up the water surface at night.

Hake are carnivores – the young feed on cephalopods and crustaceans, while the adult prey on fish such as pilchard and herring, and even the young of their own species. Swimming in small schools, they catch their usual prey, the herring, by forcing them toward the shore. They are ready to spawn when they reach three to four years of age.

And, some interesting fact on the name hake. A surname of English and Nordic origin, hake is believed to come from haki, an Old Norse word. In Norse mythology, Hake, Haki, or Haco was a well-known king. Also, the word haki is linked to “hook”, which was a name originally assigned to a person in the fishing industry.

When buying hake, consider these:

  • Only buy those that are more than 50 cm long with red gills and bright eyes.
  • When buying fillets, choose those that have firm white flesh – it should be free of blemishing, bruising, or discolouration.

Some hake recipes

Because hake has firm flesh, there are various ways you can prepare it, from pan-frying to roasting. And, there’s some contrast between its appearance and taste – while it looks aggressive, it is rather mild-tasting, which allows you to use various seasonings on it.

Here are some recipes you can do at home:

Pan-fried hake, white bean & chorizo broth

“This gutsy soup has a Spanish tone and works with other white fish like cod - layer the flavour up with garlic and paprika.” Get the recipe here:


Pan-Roasted Hake with Roasted Fennel, Fresh Grapes & Brown Butter Vinaigrette

Browning butter (gently toasting its natural milk solids) is a classic technique used to give this ingredient a deep, rich flavor. Fresh grapes provide a bright, tart counterpoint to the almost hazelnutty brown butter in this vinaigrette. Additionally, roasting fennel partially caramelizes it, bringing out a natural sweetness and highlighting its mellow, anise flavor. Get the recipe here:


Breaded Hake Loin

“A delicious and simple recipe to prepare, hake loins seasoned with pepper, lemon juice, garlic and salt, coated in egg and breadcrumbs, fried in olive oil.” Get the recipe here:




  • https://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/marine_species/wild_species/hake_en
  • https://www.britannica.com/animal/hake https://www.msc.org/what-you-can-do/eat-sustainable-seafood/fish-to-eat/hake
  • https://www.greatbritishchefs.com/how-to-cook/how-to-cook-hake