Hake spend the daytime on the ‘abyssal plains’, deep sandy areas off the coastal shelf. At night they swim toward the surface where they feed on shoals of pelagic fish like herring and mackerel. They are voracious, active predators which gives them their firm, meaty flesh and their terrifying face.
Hake are normally caught by deep sea trawlers, although in Cornwall they are occasionally caught in drift nets, when fishermen are targeting fish they prey on. In fact, they were commonly known as ‘herring hake’ in Britain, as they were nearly always caught in the herring nets ‘their bellies a’swole with silver darlings’.
In fact, we catch quite a lot of hake here in the UK, but 95% of the catch is exported to the lucrative Spanish market. The Spaniards are crackers for hake, they each eat around 6kg of it every year. It'd be great to see more of it stay here in the UK, it's bladdy lovely.
Hake belong to the same family as cod, but have a much denser, meatier flesh. They’re very robust fish that stand up well to big bold flavours. They roast exceedingly well and in Iberia are often baked with tomatoes peppers and paprika.
(Click to enlarge)