Lucio de Allende is the head chef of the Two Oceans Aquarium's Functions team, with years of world-class cuisine experience under his chef's hat! Guests that have experienced a private function at one of the Aquarium's beautiful venues, such as a conference or staff event, have almost certainly sampled some of chef Lucio's cooking before! Lucio is also passionate about sustainable living, and how our food choices affect the environment, particularly our seafood decisions.
Chef Lucio invites you into his home to learn to cook quick and easy chilli and coriander hake fishcakes - a family favourite in the de Allende household! Hake is one of the most popular South African seafoods, and thanks to many Marine Stewardship Council certified fisheries and assessments that have placed hake on the WWF SASSI Green List, it also has the potential to remain one of our most sustainable food fishes.
Pro-tip from chef Lucio: You don't need to buy fresh hake to make a perfect fish cake, use leftover fish from a braai!
In South Africa, two species of hake are caught - Deep-water Cape hake (Merluccius paradoxus) and Shallow-water Cape hake (Merluccius capensis). Fortunately, both types of local hake are on the WWF SASSI Green List, which means that the fishing methods used to catch them have a low environmental impact, and that the wild population of hake is not being over-fished.
South African hake is caught predominantly by trawling and longline fishing. Although these fishing techniques can, and often do, inflict incredible harm upon natural ecosystems, close scrutiny of the local hake industry has found that the best possible mitigation measures are in place to reduce bycatch, deter seabirds and prevent harm to seabed ecosystems.
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which is responsible for the certification of sustainable fisheries, has worked closely with large industry partners like I&J to develop techniques to protect wildlife. The MSC blue eco-label appears on the packaging of any certified product - a quick way for you to check in-store if your choice of seafood is sustainable.
The WWF South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) also carry out independent research to verify if certain fish species, caught by specific methods, are sustainable. For example, the WWF carried out research that confirmed that demersal longlining for hake, with the methods used in South Africa, resulted in minimal bycatch of endangered, threatened or protected species.
WWF SASSI provides a handy app that allows you to easily search for fish to see their sustainability status. What we love most about this app is that it recognises all the common names too - so searching "fishfingers" will show you the results for hake!
A final disclaimer: Although the South African hake industry is largely sustainable, imported hake is often not. Trawled hake from Namibia has not been certified, and the damage caused by the methods used there are not known. Imported hake from Peru, Chile and Argentina are known to be caught using highly-damaging methods and should be avoided.