What’s a hake you ask? A great tasting fish that's what!
More than being a great table option, though, hake offers some other pluses that would certainly convince you to choose it above the rest.
Seriously. What’s a Hake?
With its sharp pin teeth, menacing expression, and slender, eel-like appearance, you can actually say that the hake is the delinquent cousin of cods and haddocks. The three species actually belong to the same family.
But unlike the cod and haddock that prefer shallower waters, hake thrives in the deeper parts of the ocean. It usually stays near the sandy seabed during the day, but moves up the middle water column to feed at night.
And feed it does. It is a voracious predator, indiscriminately feeding on any smaller prey items it can find, even smaller hakes. Because of this, it is not uncommon for this fish to reach its maximum size of 140 cm and can weigh up to 15kg. It can also live up to 20 years.
It’s More Sustainable than Haddock or Cod
If you love seafood, then sustainability should be on your top list, and hake is just like that.
It is no secret that cod and haddock remain to be Britain’s all-time favorite, but hake is a more sustainable and more affordable alternative.
In 2015, the hake caught in our very own waters has been considered as one of the most sustainable fish in the United Kingdom as declared by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and National Federation of Fisherman’s Organization (NFFO); a declaration that remains true even until now. This is a welcome break to our cod and haddock, whose numbers are now bouncing back thanks to other fish alternatives.
How About Flavor?
Just like its cousins, the hake is a mild fish with a white, flaky meat. It also has a subtle. sweet, and tender flavor, similar if not better than cod. You should certainly give it the credit that it deserves.
Hake might be overshadowed by the popularity of its cousins in the UK, but in Spain and Portugal, it is certainly a superstar. The Spaniards and Portuguese are even willing to pay a price higher than the domestic market value just to get hold of our stocks (theirs have not yet recovered, unfortunately).
Want to Try Some Hake? Great! Here’s What to Know
Old fish wisdom still holds true. Just look for red gills and clear bright eyes. The white flesh should also be free from any blemish or bruises.
Hake is available whole or filleted, frozen or fresh, and occasionally salted or smoked. Its flesh is naturally soft when raw but firms up nicely once cooked.
It is best not to buy the fish less than 50cm, since it’s not yet mature. To make sure that it was not sourced from depleted stocks, check for the MSC blue label.
Some Helpful Hake Cooking Tips for You
If you enjoy cod or haddock, then you’d surely love hake! Just cook it the way you would do with cod or haddock. Better yet, great recipes for hake also abound from the Iberean cuisine, and it goes well with robust flavors such as chorizo, paprika, garlic, and coriander.
The fillet is a treat but the tail end needs a bit more attention, since it does not hold its shape as well as other parts of the fish. Something that you should be mindful of.