If you're looking to incorporate new types of fish into your family's diet, look no further than the hake, an ocean fish related to the cod and the whiting. This fish isn't well known in the United States, but it is a much sought-after fish in parts of Europe, particularly Spain and Portugal. Hake can be poached, roasted, sauteed or broiled. The traditional Spanish way to prepare hake remains the best-known: pan-fried in a light coating of flour.
Hake are difficult to find because they are not common in the United States. In addition, they are over-fished in many parts of the world. If you do find hake, look for a fish with clear eyes and with the scales firmly attached to the skin. If you are purchasing fillets, don't be put off by their soft texture. Hake have a very soft flesh that does not firm up until after you cook them. Instead, look for hake with white flesh that is almost odorless. Hake that have cloudy eyes, missing scales or a strong fish odor may be old.
Dredge the skinless, raw hake fillets in flour and pan-fry them over medium-high heat in olive oil until the flour coating is light brown. Hake is not typically pan-fried until it is very crispy or dark brown. You will know when the hake is ready when the fillets have a firm texture and are opaque and flaky in the middle. You may have to lightly cut into one to check, particularly if it is a thick fillet.
To prepare hake the Spanish way, saute chopped garlic cloves with the olive oil and add white wine near the end of the frying time. Then, top the hake with cooked peas and asparagus. Pan-fried hake also pairs well with salsa verde, paprika, lemon, tartar sauce or ranch dressing. The hake fillets have a mild cod-like flavor and texture when they are cooked, so they go well with any sides that you might serve with cod, such as sauteed vegetables or french fries. You can also serving these kid-friendly fish fillets with a simple tossed salad topped with a creamy dressing.
If you prefer a healthier meal, omit the flour or use a whole wheat flour instead. The flour is used mainly for texture when you pan-fry hake, so it isn't necessary. The olive oil contains fat, but it is low in saturated fat, which is the bad fat that can raise cholesterol. Adjust the side dish to reduce the fat as well. Prepare steamed vegetables instead of sauteed vegetables or fried potatoes as a side. Use a light creamy dressing on the salad.
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Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.