Culinary Profile for Hake

Hake Flavor Scale
Flavor
Oil
Texture

Hake fish are members of the Cod & Haddock family of fish which are all part of the species order Gadiformes. There are at least 13 varieties of commercially fished species of hake throughout the world, and although there are differences in appearance, they all share similar culinary traits regarding taste & texture.

In the United States & Canada Hake tend to be used as a good, cheaper alternative to Cod, Haddock, and Pollock, especially as a frozen or processed product. Pacific Hake is also used as the primary ingredient for Surimi (imitation crab), but it should be noted that many other fish are also used in the creation of this product. Fresh Hake is more readily available in European countries than in the US. And demand for Hake is highest in Europe, especially in Spain, where the fish is held in higher regard than it is in the US. Fresh Hake is available in the US, particularly in the regional localities where it is fished, it can be hard to source fresh outside of those local areas.

Silver HakeAuthor Nozères, Claude
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial License

In years past, Hake has had a reputation in the US of being a very low-end fish due to a tendency for having a mushy texture. This condition was due to poor handling, and modern practices have pretty much eliminated this problem, especially with Pacific Hake. The problem was that the myxosporean parasite, which has no affect upon humans, causes an enzymatic reaction which softens the flesh of the fish and results in a “mushy” texture after cooking. To combat this, modern high-end processors (especially of the Pacific Hake) have employed a number of techniques including the need to butcher and freeze the fish within 30 hours of harvest, resulting in a high quality Hake.

Flavor Profile

Although taste & texture do vary by species, Hake tend to have a very mild taste, with slightly sweet meat and cream-colored to slightly-pink flesh which has a somewhat coarse, watery texture. They have a similar flavor as Cod, but with a milder taste, a softer texture, and a smaller flake. Hake is a highly perishable and fagile fish, so using a reputable vendor is key, especially when it come to fresh Hake.

Typical Cooking Methods

  • Bake
  • Broil
  • Deep-Fry
  • Grill
  • Poach
  • Saute
  • Smoke
  • Steam
  • Sushi

 

Hake FilletsAlternate Names

Depending upon the region, Hake has a variety of market names which are listed by species below. In the US and other English-speaking countries Hake is frequently sold as Whiting.

Typical Wholesale Products

  • Fresh: Whole, H&G, Fillets, Steaks
  • Frozen: H&G, Fillets, Blocks
  • Value-added (breaded, etc)
  • Smoked
  • Salted
  • Surimi

Hake Description

There are at least 13 major species of Hake which are commercially fished world wide. The maximum size varies considerably by species with the smallest Hake reaching a max size of 26” and the largest reaching up to 60”. Average sizes vary by species from about 15” to 31”.

Below are basic characteristics of the most commonly commercially fished Hake.

Merluccius bilinearis

Market Names: Silver Hake, Atlantic Whiting, Whiting, New England Hake, Scrod
Region: Atlantic US & Canada

M. bilinearis can grow up to 32 inches (80 cm), but avg size is about 16 inches (40 cm).

They are found in the waters of the Canadian Atlantic coast down to the Bahamas, but are most abundant from Newfoundland to South Carolina. Outside of Maine, Silver & Red Hake are commonly available from December – April, with March being the peak month. Locally (Maine) they are sporadically available year around.

Merluccius productus

Market Names: Pacific Hake, Pacific Whiting
Region: Pacific US & Canada

M. productus are the most abundant species of the US hakes, and it is the most abundant commercially fished species along the US West Coast. They grow to a max size of 35 inches (91 cm) and weigh up to 2.6 lbs (1.2 kg), but avg size is about 2 ft (60 cm) with a weight of 1-2 lbs.

Pacific Hake has very soft flesh. It is used to make top quality surimi, and the best frozen Hake fillets available.

They are found in the US waters of Washington, Oregon, and California as well as British Columbia, Canada and are in season from May thru June.



 

Urophycis chuss

Market Names: Red Hake, Squirrel Hake, Scrod, Whiting
Region: US & Canadian Atlantic

Outside of Maine, Silver & Red Hake are commonly available from December – April, with March being the peak month. Locally (Maine) they are sporadically available year around.
They reach a max size of 26 inches (66 cm) and 7.9 lbs (3.6 kg) and are found from southern Nova Scotia to North Carolina.

Merluccius albidus

Market Names: Atlantic Hake, Offshore Silver Hake, Whiting
Region: Atlantic US & Central America, Brazil

M. albidus is recognized as being in the top 3 firmest textured Hakes.

Max size for females is 27 inches (70 cm). Males are smaller than females with a max size of only 16 inches (40 cm). Average commercial catch size is about 14 inches (35 cm).

Urophycis tenuis

Market Names: White Hake, Boston Ling, Black Hake, Boston Hake, Steakfish, Mud Hake, Whiting
Region: US & Canadian Atlantic

Outside of Maine, US U. tenuis Hake is commonly available from December – April, with March being the peak month. Red Hake from Maine are sporadically available year around. They are commonly found from Newfoundland to North Carolina, but have also been caught in Iceland and as far south as Florida.

It is larger than Red Hake and can grow up to 4 ft long (135 cm) with a max weight of 46 lb (21 kg), but average market size is about 1 – 2 lbs and up to 27 inches (70 cm).

Merluccius australis

Market Names: New Zealand Hake, Antarctic Queen, Blue Whiting, Chilean Hake, Patagonian Hake, Southern Hake
Region: Chile, New Zealand

M. australis has a firmer texture than the other hakes.

They grow to a max length of 5 ft (155 cm), but average size is about 31 inches (80 cm).

There are 2 distinct groups of this fish: one found in the Southern Pacific Ocean waters around Chili (which has been unofficially called Merluccius australis polylepis) and the second in the waters around New Zealand (unofficially called Merluccius australis australis).

Merluccius hubbsi

Market Names: South American Hake, Argentine Hake, Argentine Whiting, Southwest Atlantic Hake
Region: South American Atlantic Coast

M. hubbsi is recognized as being in the top 3 firmest textured Hakes.

It is found along the South American East Coast from Brazil to the tip of Argentina and are in season from November thru February, and they reach a max length of 37 inches (95 cm), with an avg size of 20 inches (50 cm).

Merluccius gayi

Market Names: Chilean Hake, Chilean Whiting, English Hake, Pacific Hake, Peruvian Hake, Silver Hake, South Pacific Hake, Whiting
Region: South American Pacific Coast

M. gayi are found along the South American Pacific Coast from Peru to southern Chile and reach a max length of about 34 inches (87 cm) and an avg length of 19 inches (50 cm).

Merluccius merluccius

Market Names: European Hake, Herring Hake, Cornish Salmon, Whiting
Region: Eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea

European Hake is known by a variety of names throughout Europe and the rest of the world.

They can grow up to 3 ft (100 cm) and weigh up to 10 lbs (3kg). They are found from Iceland and Norway to the north African coast, and in the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea.

European Hake is very similar to the US species of Hake.

Merluccius paradoxus

Market Names: Deep Water Hake, Cape Capensis
Region: Southern Africa

M. paradoxus reach a max length of 45 inches (115 cm), but are more commonly about 23 inches (60 cm).

Their appearance is steel gray on the back, grading to silvery white sides and bellies.

Merluccius polli

Market Names: Benguela Hake, Shallow Water Hake
Region: African Atlantic Coast

M. polli reach a max length of 31 inches (80 cm) with an avg length of about 15 inches (40 cm).

Their appearance is blackish on the back with steel gray to blackish bellies.

Merluccius capensis

Market Names: South African Hake, Cape Hake, Shallow-water Cape Hake, Shallow-water Hake, South African Whiting, Stockfish, Cape Capensis
Region: Southeast Atlantic

M. capensis is recognized as having the firmest texture of the Hakes, followed by Atlantic & Argentine Hake.

Max length is 55 inches (140 cm) with an avg size of 19 inches (50 cm) and they have an appearance which is light brown on their backs with silvery white sides and bellies..

It is found around the tip of South Africa and is fished year around.

Merluccius senegalensis

Market Names: Senegalese Hake, Black Hake
Region: North African Atlantic Coast

The appearance of M. senegalensis is steel-gray to black on their backs with silvery white sides and bellies.

Fresh Atlantic Hake Availability in the United States/Canada

Fresh seafood availability chart: green areas show peak availability, light green show limited availability. Frozen available all year long.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec

Fresh Pacific Hake Availability in the United States/Canada

Fresh seafood availability chart: green areas show peak availability, light green show limited availability. Frozen available all year long.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec

Pacific Hake Butchering Yield Percentage (Merluccius productus)

Item To Dressed H/Off To Skin/On Fillets To Skin/Off Fillets Notes
Whole Round 62% 43% 32% varies by +/- 6
Whole Head/On gutted 71% 51% 38%
Skin/On Fillets 75% If you have additional yield info on this fish please leave a comment below.
Yield % varies according to a number of factors including: size of fish, season, sex, and the skill of your fishmonger.

Hake Sustainability Info

Name Alternate Names Catch Method – Notes Catch
Region
Seafood
Watch
Ocean
Wise
Sea
Choice
Mercury
Concerns
M. bilinearis Silver Hake Small-mesh Trawl US Atlantic Yellow-icon_20.png Red-Dot_20.png Yellow-icon_20.png Moderate
M. albidus Offshore Hake Small-mesh Trawl US Atlantic Yellow-icon_20.png Red-Dot_20.png Yellow-icon_20.png
M. productus Whiting, Pacific Hake MSC Certified US/Canadian Pacific Yellow-icon_20.png Yellow-icon_20.png Moderate
U. chuss Red Hake Small-mesh Trawl US Atlantic Yellow-icon_20.png Red-Dot_20.png Yellow-icon_20.png Moderate
U. tenuis White Hake, Squirrel Hake, Ling, Whiting Bottom Gillnet, Bottom Trawl US Atlantic Yellow-icon_20.png Red-Dot_20.png Red-Dot_20.png Moderate
U. tenuis White Hake, Squirrel Hake, Ling, Whiting Trawls, Gillnets, Longline Canadian Atlantic: Maritimes, Newfoundland, Labrador Red-Dot_20.png Red-Dot_20.png Red-Dot_20.png  Moderate
See MSC Certified Sustainable Hake Fisheries
Disclaimer: The sustainability info above is accurate to the best of our knowledge. However, each program randomly updates their information without our knowledge. We therefore recommend that you verify the current accuracy of this information.

Green-icon_20.png = Best Choice/Recommended     Yellow-icon_20.png = Good Alternative     Red-Dot_20.png = Avoid/Not Recommended
 
       
Updated
Dec 2014

 

Nutritional Information

based upon a 6 oz (171 grams) raw edible serving.

* Calories/Calories from fat 154
* Protein grams 31.4
* Fat grams 2.2
* Saturated fat grams .3
* Sodium milligrams 123
* Cholesterol milligrams 115
* Omega-3 grams .3

 

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