Sustaining and sustainable
A nourishing, plentiful but somewhat overlooked fish with a delightfully meaty, soft and flaky flesh; hake has a subtle and sweet flavour that is not too dissimilar to that of cod. Ranging from 1 to 5kg on average, hake has a relatively long, slender body and is usually a steel-grey colour on the back and a silvery-white on the belly.
It’s an excellent source of protein, delicious and immensely versatile but surprisingly, not a particularly popular fish in the UK. Europe’s biggest consumers of hake are Spain, where it’s known as merluza. It might be an unfamiliar fish but us Brits could do with following suit – especially because regular consumption of hake is reported to improve blood pressure and lower cholesterol.
Hake is found in British waters and is at its best between May and August. You can buy and cook hake whole or filleted. When buying it whole - look for clear, bright, bulging eyes, a bright red gill and bright, shiny skin and when buying it filleted – look for white and firm flesh as these characteristics indicate that the fish is fresh. When cooking hake whole – it’s best roasted or barbequed and when cooking it filleted – you can pan-fry, roast, steam, grill or poach it. So next time you reach for a ‘seafood staple’ consider substituting it for Hake – really lovely when teamed with the robust flavours of other Iberian ingredients.
- 4 x 160g Hake fillets
- 1 tsp. Maldon salt
- 4-6 tbsp. olive oil
- 4 x garlic cloves, peeled & sliced
- 1 tbsp. flour
- 160ml dry sherry
- 3 tbsp. parsley, chopped
- 300g small clams
- 4 slices Iberico ham, thinly sliced
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- Season the hake fillets with Maldon salt & allow them to firm in the fridge for 1 hour. Rinse & pat dry on kitchen paper.
- Dust the hake fillets in flour & pan-fry them over a medium heat until golden on all 4 sides. Set aside on a warmed plate.
- Heat a small saucepan - add a teaspoon of olive oil & gently fry the garlic for 1 ½ minutes without colour. Add the clams, sherry & hake. Cover with a tight fitting lid & cook gently for 5-6 minutes or until the hake is cooked. Remove from the heat.
- Remove the hake from the saucepan and then stir in the remaining olive oil, followed by the chopped parsley. Check the seasoning, maybe adding a squeeze of lemon juice for acidity.
- Place the tender hake fillet in the centre of 4 warmed plates. Spoon the clams & juice over & around. Top with the Iberico Ham & serve.