Have you seen flake on the chalkboard at your local fish and chip shop but never really known what it is? Generally speaking, flake refers to several species of shark.
What is flake fish?
The name ‘flake’ refers to two species of gummy shark according to the Australian Fish Name Standard - the gummy shark from Australia (gummy shark) and the rig shark from New Zealand. The Australian Sustainable Seafood Guide explains that, “as the standard is not currently legally binding, shark meat from other species is also termed ‘flake’.“ This is where things get a little bit murky because people can’t identify which variety of shark they’re selling consumers.
In 2015, an investigation by Greenpeace found that out of 23 Melbourne takeaway venues, seven of nine stores who thought they were selling gummy shark were actually selling school shark. And of the other 14 stores who advertised the fish as “flake” DNA testing revealed that seven were gummy shark, four school shark and two were rig sharks. This is why we’re seeing calls for better labelling systems.
Common names accepted for commercial use for shark:
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
- Rock eel
- Rock salmon are all common names for certain species of shark.
Whilst, fish is generally low in calories, when it comes to your fish order the one cut of fish can have very different nutritional values depending on the way you cook it. Here’s a list of from healthiest to least:
1. Grilled, 200g fillet 266 calories
2. Crumbed, 200g fillet 449 calories
3. Deep-fried, 200g fillet, 457 calories
And if you’re looking to be even healthier, skip the chips and get a fresh salad.
Fish, in general, is a relatively healthy choice. It is an excellent source of protein and is low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fat. It is most commonly known for being rich in omega-3 and iodine.
Fish in particular flake contains high levels of mercury
which is why its intake is often limited as it can have negative effects on the nervous system. For the general population, the FSANZ recommends that shark (and other specific fish like broadbill, marlin and swordfish) is eaten no more than once a week. For pregnant women, women planning pregnancy and young children it is recommended that they should not eat flake “no more than once a fortnight and should not eat any other fish during that fortnight.”
If you’re looking for an alternative to shark, try swordfish steaks and if you’re looking for a milder option opt for a white-fleshed fish like cod.
Where to buy?
You can most commonly find flake fish raw or cooked from your local fish and chip shop, prices vary depending on availability.