Hake, the cult summer food

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Hake (hekk, in Hungarian) is a cult summer food in Hungary. Although this fish comes from the sea, and Hungary is a landlocked country, we, Hungarians have built a whole culture around it. Hake has become one of the basic summer eating options for Hungarians beside lángos, pancake and corn on the cob. It’s a big star of the Hungarian “beach cuisine” along rivers and around lakes in the country. Little kiosks on the shore sell hake with pickles and white bread, no doubt.

What made hake a cult summer food in Hungary?

It’s interesting how hake became so popular in a country without sea. The whole story started in the 1970s. Due to the large export of high-quality Hungarian fresh-water fish, there was less and less bream in Lake Balaton, so a kind of shortage arose in the Hungarian market. Consequently, breams became more and more expensive. Hungarians used to like eating fish so much, so it was a necessity to find a cheaper solution for fish-fanatics. Frozen hake was imported to Hungary at a fair price in large amount, in the hope of meeting the demands. And it worked, people loved it and switched consuming this sea fish. This is how hake became an integral part of the Hungarian “beach cuisine”. But let me tell you a secret. Many people still believe that hake is a traditional Hungarian fish from Lake Balaton. 🙂

Where to eat?

In Budapest you can find iconic hake-eating places in Római-part on the Buda side. Some of these cult restaurants have been around from the 1980s and still operate with the same plastic tables and chairs, but some of them were moving with the time and use a trendy design.

Along the river, there is a piece of the Római-part spirit in the south on the Pest side called Dunaparty Megálló. This riverside oasis is surrounded by factories and you will understand its popularity once you visit it. On the shore a red English double-decker, with its sandy floor under the tables, awaits hungry locals for a roast hake with potatoes & pickles, but you can choose from pancakes, lángos the Hungarian deep fried flatbread, ice-cream, draught beers, iced coffee and lemonade as well. You can come here by bike or by car, bring your dogs and kids as well. From spring to autumn, Dunaparty Megálló offers a refreshing escape from the heat of the city and gives you the seaside holiday feeling.

Dunaparty Megallo

Lazy to go out but can’t stop thinking on that delicious hake you ate last time? Prepare it at home. The classic recipe is so simple, here it is:

Ingredients for four:

  • 1 kg frozen hake
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 7 dl milk
  • 20 dkg flour
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt to taste
  • Hungarian red paprika powder to taste

How to prepare:

After taking out of the freezer, give your hakes a night bath in half liter milk, flavored with a pinch of salt and crushed garlic. Add flour, eggs and paprika powder to the rest of the milk. Then dip your fish into this mixture and deep fry them in oil for about ten minutes. Your hakes are ready to eat when they become gold-brown. Enjoy your fish-dish with pickles and a big slice of white bread. Or do like me and enjoy it with French fries beside the pickles. 🙂 For company send a glass of cold rosé spritzer down. It’s just heavenly!

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