What is hake?
Hake are members of the cod family (Merlucciidae) and are native to colder waters like the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. They are long, mottled grey-skinned fish that prefer and live in deeper waters from 200-350m. They have quite a mild flavour, similar to cod, although they have finer flakes when cooked. They’re popular in Spanish and Argentinian cuisines.
When is hake in season?
Hake is in season all year round but avoid buying fresh in the peak spawning season – Feb-March. Read more about responsible fishing at the Marine Stewardship Council.
How to choose hake
Look for firm-fleshed fillets, with a creamy pale colour and slight translucency with no discolouration. They should be wet with a fresh sea smell – avoid dry-looking fillets. It can be difficult to buy whole but you can get larger fillets, the ‘centre cut’, or whole if you ask your fishmonger in advance.
How to prepare hake
Simply seasoned and roasted, baked or fried, hake fillets need very little preparation. Check for pin bones before cooking and remove with tweezers. Ask your fishmonger to gut and scale the fish if cooking whole.
How to store hake
Refrigerate in an airtight container or well wrapped and use within 24 hrs. Hake can be frozen for up three months, but must be defrosted thoroughly before use.
How to cook hake
Hake can be pan-fried, roasted or grilled. It can also be coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried, as in the traditional South American dish ‘hake milanesa’. Its subtle flavour and flaky texture allows it to be paired with lots of strong flavours, from smoked paprika to bacon, or spices in curries.
Alternatives to try