Spaniards love hake fish in 'fish n chips' as British like cod. Hake is a popular Murrolucious family of oceanic fish, prized for its flaky, lean, milky-white flesh.
There are actually several species of ray-finned fishes found in oceans all over the world. European hake (M. merluccius) is found in the warmer waters of the Atlantic and Mediterranean.
Scientific name: Merluccius merluccius (European hake). Hake is also known by many local names as herring hake, cape hake, merluza (Spanish), pescada, pescadinha, nasello, merluzzo (Italian), merlu, merluche (French).
|European Hake fish (M. merluccius). Photo credit: Marinespecies.org|
Hake is a benthic (demersal) fish which prefers to live close to ocean bed in deep waters at a depth of 70-300 mts. They are voracious predators and feed on small fish, crustaceans, and fish eggs. During the night they return to surface waters.
Hake are round bodied oceanic fish. There are several species called hake. The European hake lives on the European coasts of the Atlantic from Norway to Portugal. Its brown to grey body is long and rather slender, measures 30-70 cm (12-16 in) in length and reaches a maximum length of 4 feet.
Its head is large, constituting about 30% of standard length, with wide mouth featuring sharp, serrated jaw. They feature small scales along lateral line. They are batch spawners. Life-span is about 4 years.
The silver hake (Atlantic hake (Merluccius bilinearis)) is another popular species in Europe, found in the northwest Atlantic Ocean.
Pacific hake is a silver-gray fish with black speckling found in the Pacific east-coast, from Canada to Baja California.
Hake fish is one of the finest sources of essential fatty acids, protein, minerals and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, E and D.
It is non-oily, deep water fish, and therefore, low in calories and saturated fats; 100 g holds just 78 calories in comparison to 91 calories in halibut.
Hake contains lean, white meat that composes good amino-acids profile. 100g fish provides 17.54 g/100 g (31% of RDI). Protein composition is complete in the sense that all essential amino acids in a healthy proportions.
Hake's lean meat is a good source of poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)Studies have shown that eating seafood can decreases the risk of heart attack, stroke, obesity and hypertension. Seafood is low in saturated fat and higher in “heart healthful” polyunsaturated fat, including omega-3 fatty acids.
Hake contains just 0.079 ppm of mercury in its flesh. US FDA categorises Hake in the "best choice" section considering mercury levels in its flesh. The recommendation is consumption of 2-3 serving (8-12 ounces) per week for hake fish.
Hake is a moderate source of omega-3 eicosapentaenoicacid (EPA), docosapantaenoicacid (DPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) fatty acids. Research studies suggest that these fatty acids, particularly DHA, play an important role in the development of nervous system, especially in infants and children.
According to Cornell University and the New York Sea Grant Extension Program. 2012- the fatty acids play crucial role in decreasing blood pressure and heart rate and help improve cardiovascular function. For example, research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats) that can lead to sudden death.
In adults, several large trials have evaluated the effect of fish or fish oils on heart disease. In the "GISSI Prevention Trial, heart attack survivors who took a 1-gram capsule of omega-3 fats every day for three years were less likely to have a repeat heart attack, stroke, or die of sudden death than those who took a placebo".
Being deep water, cod-like fish, hake contains small amounts of vitamin-A in its flesh; Nonetheless, its liver carries good amounts of omega-3 essential fatty acids such as ALA, DHA and DPA to help keep healthy mucosa and skin.
Hake fillet compose B-complex vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine (B-6). It is also good source of vitamin-E, vitamin-B12, thiamin, and riboflavin.
Further, it is a natural source of rich minerals including iodine, calcium , zinc, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Iodine is an important trace element in human nutrition and is essential for thyroid hormone synthesis.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.88 g||4.4%|
|Dietary Fiber||0 g||0%|
Hake fish are available year round, as a whole, headed & gutted or as fillets in the US markets. Breaded portions, smoked, salted (white and red hake) also available in the specialty stores as value-added products.
They are best from March till July. Look for bright, firm fish with silvery skin, pink gills and clear eyes. The fish has few bones and these are easy to remove. Avoid buying fillets as they tend to disintegrate during cooking.
At home, store fish and fillets in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. For extended use, scale and gut whole before storing in deep freezer.
Hake fish is mild-tasting, even delicately that absorbs surrounding flavors in a dish. Its firm, white fish is similar to cod and has a flaky texture and subtle flavor.
Serve it grilled, poached or baked with strong flavor accompaniments like curry or tomato sauce. Depending on the serve size; smaller fish is headed and gutted and can be used in stuffing. Large fish cut in steaks or filleted. Head side portion holds more flavorful flesh.
Here are some serving ideas:
|Hake fish and chips. Photo credit: stu_spivack|
Hake can be substituted for many dishes calling for haddock, pollock or cod.
Popular British fish and chip dish particularly employs hake for its lean, delicate flavorful meat.
Hake is a popular fish employed in many traditional recipes in Spain and Portugal such as hake with chorizo and potatoes (Merluza à la Gallega).
Large fish can be filleted are great for grilling or pan-frying.
Just like halibut, hake fish can also be enjoyed in chowder, mixed with vegetable like baby potatoes, sugar peas, and pea shoot tendrils. It cooks just a few minutes in the flavorful broth.
The mean mercury concentration in hake fish is 0.079 ppm. Accordingly, the U.S FDA final guidelines on how much fish expectant as well as breastfeeding mothers can eat, along with lists of specific options that are safe or should be avoided, places hake in "the best choice" category. By this yardstick, they can consume 2-3 serving (8-1 ounces) of hake fish per week. (Medical disclaimer).
Also read <<-Salmon nutrition facts and health benefits.
Further reading (Links opens in new window):
Species Fact Sheets -Merluccius merluccius.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution.