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Hake – The Most Beloved Hungarian Fish, Which Is Not Hungarian at All – With Recipe!

Adrienn Vass 2021.08.06.

It is likely thanks to the internet that today more and more people are in agreement that Generation X grew up thinking that the European hake was a fish from Lake Balaton. We are not blaming them for this mistaken assumption, because as the result of a completely illogical decision in the sixties, today practically every beach on Balaton, in fact every worthwhile beach around the country features the fish in its buffets.

Translation by Tamás Vaski

As a member of the “holy trinity” featuring lángos, hake, and corn on the cob, this fish is one of the most sought-after beach foods in Hungary. So, if it did not come out of the famous lake, then where is it from?

Roughly 11,000 kilometers away, frozen hake is sent from Argentina, where it is found at a depth 300 meters underwater. In the evenings, hake swim up to the water’s surface in large groups, much to the contentment of not just Hungarians, but Swedes, for whom this flavorful, boneless specimen has also become a fan favorite. Hake is related to pike, but it is a well-known fact that it is a much more easily edible alternative which tastes much better than Hungary’s domestic pike types.

And the illogical decision responsible for the fish’s entry to Hungary occurred in the 60s, when we were exporting fish in such great quantities that there were practically none left at home. This was when the decisionmakers decided that they would import fish from the other side of the world. The food had such a great effect on Hungarian consumers that even to this day its popularity remains unbroken.

Breaded Hake and Chips

-Four servings-

  • 1 kg frozen hake
  • 1 kg new potatoes
  • 20 dkg flour
  • 2-3 tablespoons paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking oil

When preparing hake, I add salt to the defrosted fish then let it sit for a bit. I chop the potatoes either into slices or cubes. I fry the potatoes, then drain them and sprinkle salt, pepper, and paprika onto them.

I mix the flour with the paprika and then turn the fish in the flour until it is coated with the mix. Only coat as many fish as you are going to cook because it soaks through quickly!

I fry both sides of each piece of fish until they are golden-brown, then serve them with the potatoes and some cold pickles.

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Photos and featured photo by Péter Csákvári/Hungary Today