DECEMBER - SEASONAL FISH OF THE MONTH - HAKE
As with 80% of the fish landed in Cornwall the vast majority of Hake landed here find there way into French and particularly Spanish households where the Hake is highly prized alongside other Cornish exports, such as Megrim and Monkfish. A quick search on the internet will confirm this with literally hundreds of Spanish recipes for Hake but less than a handful in this Country! The Spanish love their Hake so much that they will often buy one very large Hake for Christmas dinner sending market prices soaring as supply struggles to meet demand.
There are 15 species in the Hake family worldwide and better transport links have led to Chilean and South African Hake becoming a common sight in UK supermarkets. But, fortunately for Cornish fishermen, the Spanish still prefer the European Hake caught and landed in Cornwall.
European Hake (Mercluccius merluccius) is gaining popularity in this Country and so it should - take one look at a Hake with its long slender body and large jaws of needle-like teeth and you'll see it's the ultimate predator fish with a taste to match. They can grow to over 1m in length and over 5kg in weight.
Hake stay close to the bottom by day and ascend through the water at night to attack prey fish like herring or mackerel. The flesh is delicate and flaky - it is also easily bruised or damaged so great care is taken by Cornish fishermen to ensure the fish are gutted, washed and iced correctly. When the fish comes out of ice it should have a fantastic silver-grey colour with bright eyes, gills and small patches of gold on the gill covers.
In recent years there have been concerns about the sustainability of Hake stocks in SW waters, but this decline has not been seen on the grounds. Despite this Cornish fishermen have responded by raising their nets' mesh sizes and have taken government scientists on trips to ensure the stocks are well managed and as a result catch quotas have gone back up.
So, if you fancy a change from Turkey this Christmas why not follow the Spanish example and have a Hake for Christmas!
As recommended by Seafood Cornwall
December - Fresh Fish & Shell Fish in Season
More fresh fish and shell fish in season:
|Megrim Sole||Monk Fish||Sardine|