Let them eat hake
Published 20/01/2011 | 05:00
If you fancy something other than cod, and some of the more unusual Irish fish seem a little too intimidating for your palate or cooking skills, hake is a good alternative. Ireland has a plentiful supply of hake and the fish industry here has a relatively decent quota for catching it.
It's a deep-sea member of the cod family, popular in both Europe and America. In France it's known as 'saumon blanc' or white salmon while in the US it's often called ling.
Hake is quite a mild flavoured fish with white flaky flesh which is soft when raw but firms up on cooking.
Like all fish, hake is an excellent source of protein and, unlike meat, it's not high in saturated fat. White fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, although they naturally contains less than oily fish like salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats) and help lower blood pressure. People at risk of heart disease are particularly encouraged to eat more fish.
However, dipping any fish in batter and deep frying it obviously negates many of its health benefits. Health experts suggest steaming or grilling instead.
Hake fillets need little preparation but it is worth checking for bones. In Spain and Portugal it's usually grilled, pan-fried or baked. It takes robust flavours well, particularly tomatoes, garlic, chorizo and paprika.
John Nolan of the Castletownbere Fisherman's Co-Op suggests wrapping the fillet in silver foil with a little olive oil and a few cloves of garlic before baking it.