25. Sep, 2017

What is Hake (Genus Merluccius)?

Sustaining and sustainable, hake surely deserves to appear on our menus more often. The soft and moist fish can be baked, battered and fried, or used in soups and stews.

Good morning every one, last week was a mixture of sorts for me, with various doctors’ appointments, including a full morning (scanner examination) at the hospital. Nevertheless my morale was on a high , mainly because my dear friend ( a brother to me) Goiko, was staying with us. He remained a full week and it was fantastic, Luisa and I really loved to have him over and enjoyed his company thoroughly. Time flies and over nine months had passed since we had seen him last. It was so refreshing being able to discuss innumerous matters with him, from politics, a bit of soccer and on to gastronomy. Goiko’s favorite subject his fish, it’s different species, and the various Basque methods of preparation. He was born and has lived all his life in Ondarroa, (a maritime and fishing village, it’s port is one of the most important fishing ports of the Basque Country and the Cantabrian coast for the volume of its catches). so there’s very little he does not know with regards to fish, its freshness, quality and how to prepare great meals with such a fine product. Goiko is the typical Basque, that enjoys cooking for family and friends specially on weekends. I have learned many great recipes from him, without a doubt the best are the fish meals he prepares. Now retired he enjoys the privilege of living a stone’s throw from the fishing port and from the window of his sitting room he can see the boats docking and also what catches they are bring in. Therefore whatever fish Goiko prepares in his kitchen its always fresh and of great quality. Without a doubt his favorite fish is Hake ( Merluza in Spanish, Pescada in Portuguese and Gallego) and enjoys different recipes at least 3 times per week. So! this past week he prepared merluza twice at my place, one “merluza en salsa verde” hake in a parsley sauce and the other “kokotxas de merluza en salsa verde” hake cheeks in a parsley sauce, both were finger licking good. Well! Today I’m going to transmit some interesting information regarding this fantastic fish; the Hake also include a couple of recipes.

Hake is one of the most important demersal fish stocks in European waters, and is commonly caught in mixed fisheries throughout the North East Atlantic, along with cod, haddock and whiting. Hake can live for as much as 20 years, and reach a maximum size of 140 cm and 15kg, but their average size is closer to 45 cm. They reach sexual maturity at around three to four years of age. They are usually found in waters between 75 and 400 metres in depth, and tend to live close to the seabed in daytime, leaving it to swim up the water column only at night. There are two stocks of hake in EU waters which have been identified as separate by scientists. The northern stock is found in the North Sea, Skagerrak, and off the Atlantic coasts of the UK, Ireland and France. The southern stock is located off the Atlantic coasts of Spain and Portugal. Hake is caught with a wide range of gears, both as targeted catch and as by-catch. In the Mediterranean when one mentions hake, one must talk about the Spanish. Although Spain, and Castile in particular, was similar to Sicily in the secondary importance that fish had in the diet and the economy, hake was the most popular of fish. Hake is a gadoid fish (meaning it resembles cod), except it lacks the barbel of the cod and has a long second dorsal and anal fin running from mid-body to the tail fin. Spanish fishermen have caught hake since the fourteenth century, and the Spanish fondness for hake has resulted in a great variety of preparations.