Hake is a deep-sea member of the cod family. The fish is similar to its cod cousin but with a longer, slender body, its flesh is firmer and meatier. The flavour is similar to, yet a little more subtle than, cod.

It is a common fish all around the world, especially in European countries such as Spain where cooking Hake is often done by grilling, pan-frying and baking. The French refer to Hake as white salmon “salmon blanc”, while in the US, it is sometimes known as “ling” or “whiting” (not whiting as known in Europe).

Hake is a genus term for 13 different species of fish, only one of these, the European Hake, can be found near Britain. While it is thought to be a deep-sea fish, some Hake do inhabit more shallow waters as well. A Hake fillet requires little preparation as the skin is so soft, although checking for bones and pin bones is necessary and strong flavourings all go well in Hake fish recipes.

Where is hake found and how is it fished?


The fish can be in the oceans of the Atlantic and the North Pacific, at depths between 650 and 1150ft. The main method of catching Hake is deep-sea trawling. This is sometimes referred to as “dredging” or “dragging” as it requires a large net to be dragged along the seafloor, catching fish. This technique, however, can be damaging to the sea floor. Fishing has to be adjusted to Hake’s night and day patterns. In the daylight, Hake tends to stay lower in the water, near the seabed; this requires bottom trawling. During the night, the fish tend to swim mid-water, if fishing takes place at night, mid-water trawling will be carried out.

Where is hake imported from?


Hake is popular throughout Europe and America. However, due to its popularity, the fish faces the issue of sustainability. Spanish and Portuguese Hake numbers have rapidly decreased, two countries in which the fish are most enjoyed. In fact, each person in Spain consumes around 6kg of Hake per year. A lot of Hake is now imported from South Africa, now a dominant supplier. A blue MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) logo indicates that the fish has been sourced sustainably. The Good Fish guide recommends that Hake should not be eaten during its breeding season between February and July.

What are the different cuts and types of hake available?


Sold whole or gutted, as Hake fillets or steaks, Hake is available both fresh and frozen. It can also occasionally be found dried or smoked. The raw flesh of Hake is fairly soft but becomes firm and meaty when cooked. When cooking Hake, the fresher the fish, the better.

How do you cook hake and what with?


In Portugal and Spain, cooking Hake is often done by grilling, pan-frying and baking; each Spanish region seems to have its own version of a Hake dish. Merluza a la Gallega, a favourite Spanish Hake recipe, are the fish steaks baked in olive oil with chopped garlic and paprika, served with boiled potatoes. Hake has a subtle yet almost sweet flavour. The mild taste of Hake means that it can be accompanied by many strong flavours, this is unusual of a white fish. Hearty flavourings such as tomatoes, garlic, bacon, coconut, horseradish, paprika, chorizo, all go well in Hake fish recipes. It can also be used well in a curry, or in fish cakes.

Hake Fish Recipes: