Hake is a fish I have always associated with Spain. Up until recently, we sold just about all the Hake we caught to Spain, but now Cornish Hake is appearing on more fishmongers' slabs as our fisheries recover from the overfishing of 10 years ago. Hake is a deep-sea fish that is caught by static gill-nets rather than trawling. Depending on the size of the mesh of a gill net it can be catastrophic for local fish in terms of by-catch, but the Cornish hake nets have been found to be highly selective in catching larger hake, and are awaiting the award of the coveted Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) ecolabel. Which pleases me, I really do believe that we have to take care to eat fish that has been caught as responsibly and sustainably as possible.
Anyway, back to the fish. Hake is rather softer and looser in texture to a lot of the white fish we have eaten here traditionally, and needs careful handling. I found that keeping the skin on helped to stop the fish falling apart, and a light coat of flour before frying also gave a firm outside, helping to keep the fish juicy and moist inside. Garlic slices fried until crisp and then drained out of the fat, gave a delicious hint of garlic to the fish, and the crisp shards of sweet garlic added a nice variation in texture. Just a squeeze of lemon to finish...
Served with unpeeled chips simply baked in the oven with a spray of olive oil, and a salad with shredded carrot and celery in lemon vinaigrette.
Garlic Fried Hake with chips and salad