Flake (fish)


Flake (fish)

Flake is a term used in Australia to indicate the flesh of any of several species of small shark, particularly Gummy shark. The term probably arose in the late 1920s when the large-scale commercial shark fishery off the coast of Victoria was established. Until that time, shark was generally an incidental catch rather than a targeted species.

Flake rapidly became popular. It has a mild flavour, a soft texture that nevertheless remains well-defined after cooking, and a clean white appearance. These qualities, combined with the ready supply and a low price, saw flake become by far the most common type of fish to be served in Australian fish and chip shops.

Flake remains popular, but it is no longer especially cheap. By the mid to late years of the 20th century, Australia's growing population and more efficient harvesting methods had led to an alarming decline in shark stocks, and the fishery is now regulated in the hope of preventing any further deterioration.

Although the primary shark species sold as flake is the gummy shark, there are several others, as listed below.

* Gummy shark, "Mustelus antarcticus"
* School shark, "Galeorhinus galeus"
* Elephant fish, "Callorhinchus milii"
* Whiskery shark, "Furgaleus macki"
* Saw shark (any of several "Pristiophorus" species)
* Various dog sharks (Family Squalidae)
* Wobbegong

During the late 1960s it became apparent that larger individuals of several shark species were contaminated with high levels of heavy metals, particularly mercury, and a public outcry eventually led to a ban on the sale of large school sharks in 1972, which remained in effect until 1985.

External links

* [http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/monitoringandsurveillance/nuttab2006/onlineversionintroduction/onlineversion.cfm?&action=getFood&foodID=05A10238 Food Standards Australia article on Flake]

The term 'flake' was apparently first suggested by Lucy Higgins (born Lucy Phelan). Lucy was a member of the Fish Association of Victoria and ran a fish & chip shop in Clifton Hill in the 1920s. Her son, Walter B. Higgins, writes:"The members were a bit turned off by the name 'gummy shark'. So one night they said 'Well, perhaps we should call it another name?. It was Mum who said, 'Why don't we call it "Flake"? So she had the honour of inventing a term that is used all over Australia today."(Reference: "A Believer... the memoirs of Walter B. Higgins" (2007), Walter B. Higgins, PRG Publishing, Point Lonsdale, Victoria.)


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