Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hake Whiting Lake Trout Oyster Trout and Ling

Whiting? Lake Trout? Oyster Trout? Ling? Forget it! The two species pictured above, which were photographed at Faidley's in the Lex, are none of these. The "whiting---lake trout" are actually silver hake. The "oyster trout---ling" are another kind of hake. How did it get to be like this?

First of all, it's a Baltimore thing. "Lake trout" is sold either in markets as shown at top left or deep fried between two slices of white bread with hot sauce at soul food carry-outs all over town. Takers generally assume they're getting freshwater trout. Question any fishmonger, however, and he'll quickly"confide" "lake trout" is actually a saltwater species. However, when he goes on to say it's "whiting," he's off the mark.

When the "lake trout" carry-outs run out of "lake trout" or "whiting," very likely they'll substitute "oyster trout" or "ling" to sell as "lake trout." Once again they're serving up hake, albeit a different species. In Philadelphia, this "oyster trout---ling" variety of hake is often sold as "mountain trout."

Both kinds of hake are members of the cod family and are harvested in New England ocean waters. Whatever you call them, when breaded and fried up, no one disputes how good they are.
I'm not aware of much that's been published on this subject. The most extensive, detailed and documented coverage I've been able to find was in a blog entitled Mutts ,by John Woestendiek, a Pulitzer Prize winning feature writer for the Baltimore Sun. Thanks, John.