(Merluccius bilinearis): WILD CAUGHT
While the White Hake, once known as “Boston Hake” or “Boston Ling”, does not enjoy the notoriety of its cousin the Codfish outside the kitchens of New England, this wonderful fish is an affordable alternative- and close match – once prepared and served.
Hake have been fished from the Gulf of Maine since Basque fishermen discovered the fishing grounds before Columbus “discovered” America. As far back as 1616, Capt. John Smith wrote “Hake you may have when the cod failes in summer, if you will fish in the night” (hake most often feed between dusk and dawn.) There are a variety of species of Hake in many oceans of the world, and it has long been a favorite of the Portuguese (pescada), French (merlu) Spaniards (merluza) and even New Zealanders. Some traditional European dishes include Hake with Salsa Verde, Stuffed Hake with Chopped Egg and Ham, Poached Hake with Boiled Onions and Potatoes served with a Sweet Pepper Sauce, and even Hake Cooked in Apple Cider.
These gadids (members of the Cod family, along with Haddock) are swift swimmers, and like Codfish, they are voracious in their appetite. Generally smaller than most landed Cod, their bodies are noticeably longer and thinner. “Large” White Hakes run between 5 to 10 lbs; “Sows” are the larger, 10 pound plus fish. Very small New England Silver Hake, those below 2 pounds, are marketed as “Whiting” and sometime incorrectly as “Whitefish”.
Hake is an excellent and affordable substitute for recipes that call for Cod, Haddock, and in many recipes calling for Halibut. Their raw flesh is lean, and white to off-white in color. It is best served baked, poached, steamed, broiled or fried. Mild yet sweet in flavor, it is best prepared with seasonings, breading and sauces. Softer than Cod in texture, Hake is best purchased and cooked at absolute freshness for best results. Hake typically commands much lower prices at auction than that of Cod, making it an excellent and often underappreciated value, and has a generous fillet to whole fish ration.
All Hake from Browne Trading Co. are landed and bought fresh the day of landing at our local Portland Fish Exchange and are available head-off and eviscerated, or as fillets.
Catch Region: Gulf of Maine
Seasonality: June – February
Catch Method: Hook and Line, Trawl
Yield (Fillet Percentage): 67%
Flavor Profile: Mild and Sweet
Texture Profile: Moderately Firm, Flaky