Wednesday 3 July 2013

The Joy of Hake

I love fish. I love it so much that if given the stark choice of giving up meat or fish, I'd go pescatarian. It'd be tough giving up juicy steaks and wondrous Cantonese BBQ but it'd be tougher giving up fish, lobster, prawns, scallops, clams, crab and all the other amazing treats from the sea. One of my favourite fish is hake, which despite being caught off British shores, isn't that popular in the UK. Sadly, most of the British catch goes to Spain, a country where hake is revered. (Not for the first time I wonder whether the much-vaunted food revolution in the UK is an illusion when so much brilliant British fish and seafood ends up abroad.)

Steamed hake with ginger & spring onion
Hake's flaky texture is similar to that of cod but the flesh is softer. Indeed, it's great battered and fried as fish & chips. It can also be grilled, pan-fried, roasted or steamed. When I cook hake, I like to treat it the traditional Cantonese way by steaming it, topping it with ginger and spring onion, splashing hot oil over it before adding a dash of light soy sauce. Alternatively, I sometimes give hake a Southeast Asian flavour by mixing up a dressing of fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, garlic and chilli to pour over the steamed fish.

Hake also goes well when paired with meat or seafood. I remember a restaurant in Barcelona that served hake with clams in the most amazing sauce. It was so good, I shocked my friends and waiting staff alike by my new found fluency in Spanish by asking for 'mas pan por favor, mas pan' to mop up the sauce. Alas, I can't remember the name of the restaurant; it was a long time ago, I was on a stag do and it was in the days when I was a civilian.

Anyway, can you guys please eat more hake? For those of you in London, the Furness Fish Stall in Borough Market sells hake steaks from Shetland. I'm sure other quality fishmongers have it in stock and I've seen hake on sale at Marks & Spencer.

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