• 2023.12.01
  • Hake Recipes
My last article was about hake, the fish that Spaniards eat the most. So, how do you cook it? As you might expect, I searched for hake recipe rankings online, but I didn’t find any, so although this is very much my own impression, I would say that Spaniards probably like “Merluza a la Romana” (“Hake a la Romana”) most of all. Broadly speaking, it’s hake tempura, although this method is a corner-cutting version where you coat the fish in flour and beaten egg before frying it.

photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

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photo 5

Photo 1: These are the only ingredients: Hake cutlets, egg, flour, salt, and oil. Photo 2: Sprinkle on a little salt before coating in flour. Photo 3: Dip the fish in the beaten egg. Photo 4: Fry the fish. Photo 5: Ready to eat. Add the customary lemon, put something like mayonnaise or a slightly fancy tartare sauce on the side, and then it’s “Please eat.” If I were in Japan, I would probably replace hake with slices of cod.

The name “a la Romana” includes the name of the Italian city (Rome), so you might think the dish is from over there, but there is actually a theory that Jesuit missionaries, who were active overseas and whose headquarters are in Rome, used to coat vegetables and fish in batter before frying and eating it “ad tempora quadragesima” (“during the time of Lent”), when meat was prohibited before Easter, so the name was meant as “the dish the priests from Rome eat.” Please view this sort of origin story as the standard version of “various possible explanations.”

I diverge slightly, but “a la” is often translated as “style.” You could translate Merluza a la Romana as “Rome-style hake.” But “something or other-style” carries the nuance of it being not the real thing but something similar. For example, if you said “Osaka-style okonomiyaki” I would understand that as something actually different from but similar to Osaka okonomiyaki. Or am I just being a contrarian? “Northern European-style home,” “an entertainer-like person,” “a Latin-style song,” “Italian-style simmered giblets,” etc., etc., in other words, it’s probably something like “-like.”

photo 6

Well now, I guess our next stop on this tour is in Photo 6: “Merluza a la Vasca” (Basque-style Hake). We know who created this dish, when and where, which is rare in the world of food. Apparently, a lady called Plácida de Larrea created it in May 1723 in the town of Bilbao, in the Province of Biscay, Basque Country, which straddles the national border with France, at the northeastern end of Spain. The original recipe is a stew of hake, crab, a type of venus clam (Chamelea gallina), asparagus, and plenty of parsley in an earthenware pot.

photo 7

Nowadays, the mainstream version has eggs take the place of crab and Japanese littleneck clam take the place of Chamelea gallina, sometimes with the inclusion of green peas and it often has a lot of parsley, so it is also called “Merlusa en Salsa Verde” (Hake in Salsa Verde). Naturally hake is popularly cooked in various ways. The gourmet world in particular prizes an exclusive part of the fish called the “cocochas,” the fillet from under the jaw, relishing just these fillets with a salsa verde, or grilled on a hotplate. Photo 7 shows cocochas.

photo 8

While such varied and elaborate hake dishes do exist, personally speaking, the most impressive hake dish I have had was at a bistro that serves set meals in a port town in Galicia the home of Spanish seafood. It was young hake boiled in salted water. Photo 8: It was a plain dish, hake cooked in olive oil and a little onion with the local specialty potatoes, and with a similar saltiness to seawater. It was an exquisite dish that let the flavor of each individual ingredient shine through unspoiled.


  • Susumu Yamada
  • AgeTiger( TORA )
  • GenderMale
  • JobSpanish and Japanese Translation

It’s been almost 37 years since I received a residence permit and work permit from the Spanish government and paid my first tax and social insurance premiums. Now that I’m at that age where I will soon go and register at the senior human resources center, I’m grateful to have this opportunity to introduce you all to this country that has taken care of me these many years.

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