I posted a picture of my “corned hake” breakfast on Instagram one day and a fisherman commented that he was going to try my “sporty” version. That made me chuckle and that’s how the title of this recipe/ post came to be. (Thanks, Brian!)
Corned hake is an old-timey recipe that many fishing families along the coast of Maine know and love. And like a lot of regional or family recipes, everyone has their own tricks and ways of making it. I was introduced to corned hake by my husband. I love the flavor combination of both the traditional recipe, as well as my sportier versions. The corned hake traditional recipe is basically: corned hake, boiled potatoes, bacon or salt pork, fat renderings from the pork, and pickled onions.
I imagine the recipe was originally created because people needed food that could be found through the winter and last for a long time. Hake doesn’t freeze well but it takes to being salted well, and that prolongs how long it can be stored. Thanks to refrigeration and what have you, the salting part of the recipe is no longer necessary, but a lot of families still love and appreciate the flavor and process.
I just love messing around with the elements of the recipe so I came up with a few different versions. Just pick one from each category below and you too can enjoy Sporty Corned Hake.
Note: Prepare the fish either by baking, broiling, or pan-frying. The recipe is meant to be simple so just use salt, pepper, and a little butter. If you add more seasoning it will mess with the simplicity and combination of elements. Also, keep in mind this recipe is meant to be hearty and homemade so don’t feel pressured to maintain the structure of the fillet and embrace the Wabi-sabi. (Wabi-sabi is about finding the beauty in imperfections.) Also, there is good fat in the recipe so I’d avoid fattier fish like mackerel and salmon.
Carrots and broccoli (Although less starchy they can stand up to the fat and salt.)
Preparation: Roast, bake, boil, or broil!
Preparation: Traditionally, the bacon or salt pork is rendered in a pan till it’s crispy and then sprinkled on top of the fish and potatoes. I like to keep this pretty consistent and recommend doing the same in your sporty version regardless of if you are choosing to use the fat rendering or not. My trick for cooking prosciutto is to put it on a baking sheet with a rack and then put it in a COLD oven. Set the oven to 425 and after it comes to temperature keep an eye on it because prosciutto cooks pretty quickly. Let it sit for a few minutes after you pull it out of the oven and then it will kinda shatter into pieces and be perfect for sprinkling on top. (Make sure to use Pam or a cooking rack on the pan or it will stick.)
Pescetarian? Just don’t use this element.
Bacon fat rendering
Salt pork fat rendering
Artichoke hearts in oil
Walnuts, cashews, almonds (Crush them up a bit so you can sprinkle them on.)
Extra-virgin olive oil
After you prepare all of the above ingredients I recommend using the fish and starch as the base, and then sprinkling the salty meat component on top. From there I pour the fat over if I’m using a liquid fat, or I put the fat like the avocados on the side. Pickled ingredient also goes on the side.
If you find other variations that you love, or fall in love with a combination of one of my variations, let me know by posting a photo on social media and use the above hashtag.