Quick TipWhen purchasing any hake product, one should look for white flesh, that does not show any dryness, graying, or browning. Ideally, it should also have a fresh seawater smell.
Hake is popular across the world, is compatible with a wide variety of global cuisines, and it also goes well with many ingredients. In many large supermarkets, it is available cleaned, filleted, and pinboned. It can be grilled, baked, stewed, pan fried, made into a curry, or served as a fantastic version of fish and chips. The chef's imagination is the limit. Let's look at a few recipes which you can use to enjoy this fish to its maximum.
Hake Fish - Jamaican Style
Ingredients for Fried Fish:
- Hake Fish, 1 (whole or filleted)
- Cooking Oil (enough to fill ½ inch of a large frying pan)
- Plain Flour, 1½ cup
- Vinegar, 2 tbsp
- Salt and Pepper for Seasoning
Ingredients for Dressing:
- Vinegar, 2½ cups
- Cho Cho, 1 (peeled, finely sliced)
- Carrot, 1 (peeled, finely sliced)
- Onion, 1 (peeled, cut into rings)
- Scotch Bonnet Pepper, 1 (finely sliced)
- If you are using a whole fish, it is essential that you first de-scale and clean the fish thoroughly. Run the knife in the opposite direction of the scales repeatedly till the skin is completely smooth. Also, cut the fish and remove any blood and guts. Clean with vinegar, followed by a rinse in cold water. Shake the fish dry and set aside. This procedure is not required if you are working with ready-made fillets.
- Season the fish thoroughly with salt and pepper, and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours; if you can, up to a day would be great.
- After the fish has marinated, lightly dust it with flour from all sides.
- Heat a deep, large, heavy-bottomed pan with ½ inch oil for the frying.
- Once the oil is hot, carefully add the fish to the oil and cook till it turns golden-brown and crispy, i.e., approximately 2 - 3 minutes on each side. Remove the fish from the pan and set it aside.
- In another saucepan, add 3 tbsp of the oil used to fry the fish, and boil it with the vinegar, that you have kept for the dressing.
- Now, add the sliced carrots and onions to the pan, and let it cook for 2 - 3 minutes.
- Add the Cho Cho and Scotch Bonnet pepper, and continue to boil the ingredients till the onions start to get a clear translucent color. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Now, spoon the dressing all over the fried fish, and let it rest for a few hours. The longer the fish is allowed to soak in the flavors of the dressing the better the flavor.
- Serve the fish with bread, rice, or chips.
You can also fry frozen hake fillets for this dish. However, the frying time will have to be slightly longer.
Mediterranean Hake Fish Stew
- Hake Fillets, 1 lb (skinned)
- New Potatoes, 1 lb (scrubbed, peeled, and cut into thick slices)
- Tomatoes, 3 (medium-sized, peeled, and quartered)
- Garlic Cloves, 3 (peeled and chopped)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 3 tbsp
- Mint Sprigs, 3
- Coriander/Parsley, 1 tbsp (chopped)
- Juice of ½ Lemon
- Paprika, ½ tsp
- Cumin, ½ tsp (ground)
- Harissa, ¼ tsp
- Add all the ingredients, except for the fish, oil, and herbs, in a heated pan, with 1½ pint of water. Mix well and let it simmer for around 20 - 25 minutes till the potatoes have become tender.
- Now add the olive oil and fish to the mixture, and cook it for 10 more minutes.
- Use a spoon to break the hake fillets into smaller pieces.
- Add the herbs to the stew, stir, and season it before serving it hot with some crusty bread.
Let's now look at how to cook hake loins in an oven.
Baked Hake Loins
- Hake Loins, 4 (each weighing about 4 lb each)
- Cherry Tomatoes, 1½ cups (quartered)
- Olives, ½ cup (chopped)
- Onion, ¼ cup (finely chopped)
- Fish Rub, 3 tbsp
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 2 tbsp
- Parsley, 2 tsp
- Capers, 2 tsp
- Cayenne Pepper, 1 tsp
- Garlic, 1 tsp (minced)
- Salt and Pepper for Seasoning
- If using frozen fish, allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Once the fish is ready to be cooked, pat it dry with some paper towels.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Rub the fish on all sides with the olive oil and fish rub.
- Put some olive oil or baking spray on a baking tray, and place the fish loins on it.
- In a bowl, combine the cherry tomatoes, olives, onion, capers, garlic, cayenne pepper, olive oil, salt and pepper, and mix well to create a dressing.
- Spoon the dressing mixture over the fish.
- Place the baking tray in the oven, and bake the fish for 10 - 15 minutes till the fish flakes easily with the help of a fork, but be careful that it does not overcook.
- Serve hot with rice and a generous amount of the dressing.
Tips to Cook Hake Fish
► Due to the mild flavor of this fish, any spices or dressings should be used sparingly so as to not overpower the true flavor of the meat.
► The flesh is very tender, which means that it cooks very quickly. Therefore, it is important not to overcook the fish, to avoid it from becoming dry and chewy.
► For best results, always heat the oil/butter being used, followed by the flavorings and spices, and add the fish last on top to bring out the best flavor.
► For baking, cook the fish in a preheated oven at 350°F (180°C) for not more than 10 minutes.
► To steam the fish and keep it moist in an oven, a good idea would be to add a small amount of water to the baking tray, and cover the tray with a sheet of foil before cooking.
► Grilling requires only 2 - 3 minutes of cooking time on each side. Keeping the grill clean will ensure that the fish does not stick to its surface.
► Popular flavorings for hake fish marinades are butter, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, pepper flakes, capers, onion, garlic, olives, honey, tomatoes, and mixed herbs.
► When cooked properly, the fillet of a hake fish should appear golden-brown on the outside, and white, moist, and flaky on the inside.
The popularity of hake fish has led to rapidly reducing stocks of its population across the world, and currently, South African hake is the biggest source of this fish. Search for the blue MSC labels to help in sustaining the hake population. Also, it is highly recommended that you do not eat hake between the months of February and July, as this is the breeding season for this fish.