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I donít think we English ever really understood the merits of Hake as an alternative to Haddock and Cod. For years we have shipped our catches over the waters to grateful Spanish, Portuguese and French chefs who have extolled the virtues of this excellent fish.

Once fished extensively in the Irish Sea and the Bay of Biscay Hake numbers are now in serious decline and are near extinction in the Atlantic. European Hake spawns from February until July in northern waters and should be avoided during these months; the MCS (Marine Conservation Society) recommend South African and Chilean Hake as a viable alternative.

Known as merluza in Spanish and Merlu in French Hake are normally caught when they are approximately 40 to 70 cm long although they can grow to a remarkable 15 kilos. A grey/black coloured back they are similar to Cod and can be cooked in much the same way. I have always found the Portuguese style of fish cookery to be best suited to Hake filleted or baked whole they can be fried, steamed, poached or baked.

Content and picture © Miles Collins