x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

New fish for UAE plates in bid to preserve dwindling hammour stocks

Hoki - also known as blue hake or New Zealand whiptail - is being imported by Horeca Trade, a UAE-based food service company, as a substitute for hammour.

DUBAI // A new type of fish will soon be appearing on our plates in a bid to preserve dwindling stocks of endangered hammour.

Hoki – also known as blue hake or New Zealand whiptail – is being imported by Horeca Trade, a UAE food company, as a substitute.

“It’s a white fish with meat that’s quite firm and it resembles the meat of the hammour,” said J?V, the managing director of a seafood-processing company in Dubai. “It’s caught around New Zealand and Australia and not in big volumes but that can change. It’s also cheaper than hammour.”

Hammour is being fished at a rate seven times more than its stocks can support.

Hoki, which is rich in omega-3 acids, is widely used worldwide, including by McDonald’s in its McFish sandwiches in some regions.

The fish are snap-frozen as soon as they are caught and delivered to the UAE without glaze – the layer of ice often used to bulk up the sold weight of fish.

The blast-freezing technique, which takes the temperature of the fish as low as minus 48°C within 10 minutes, helps preserve the meat.

“Bacteria can’t multiply and the quality is obviously a lot better than products which are frozen in a cold store,” said J?V.

Marco Kouch, a seafood manager at Horeca, said it would help restaurants make a difference to fish stocks by replacing hammour with a more sustainable alternative.

“By purchasing fish caught or farmed using environment friendly practices, they also support healthy, abundant oceans,” he said.

cmalek@thenational.ae