Hake is a firm, white fish similar to cod which has a flaky texture and a subtle flavour. These recipes explain how best to serve it grilled, poached or baked, taking it to the next level with bold flavours like curry and tomato sauce. 

How to cook hake and what to eat it with

In Portugal and Spain, cooking hake is often done by grilling, pan-frying and baking; each region has its own hake dish. Merluza a la Gallega, a favourite Spanish hake recipe, consists of fish steaks baked in olive oil with chopped garlic and paprika, served with boiled potatoes.

Hake has a subtle yet almost sweet flavour. Its mild taste means that it can be paired with strong flavours, which is unusual of a white fish.

Tomatoes, garlic, bacon, coconut, horseradish, paprika, chorizo, all go well with hake. It also works well in curries and fish cakes.

What are the different cuts and types of hake available?

Sold whole or gutted, in fillets or steaks, fresh or frozen, dried or smoked, the fish's raw flesh is fairly soft but becomes firm and meaty when cooked. As a rule of thumb, the fresher the fish, the better.

Where is hake found and how is it fished?

Widely distributed throughout the waters of Europe, hake are found in the colder waters of the North Sea, Baltic Sea and Norwegian Sea, and in the North Atlantic from Iceland to the coasts of Portugal and Spain, at depths between 650 and 1150ft.

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.

The main method of fishing for 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 swim to mid-water, levels, so if fishing takes place at night, mid-water trawling will be carried out.

Hake Recipes: