Seafood Fridays — Pollock

Pollock is one of those fish that are so common that we take it for granted.

While you normally wouldn’t find fresh pollock at your local fish monger’s, pollock filets are frequently found in the frozen fish section. This could be because the flesh is a slightly gray color, unlike the crisp white flesh of the more expensive cod or haddock.

Even if you think you never tried pollock, you probably have. It’s the fish most commonly used in fish sticks, fast food fish filets, popcorn fish and even as imitation crab meat.

Pollock is considered an inferior fish to cod or other white-fleshed fish, so much so that the British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s in 2009 started a drive to rename the fish “colin”, after the French term for cooked pollock, in order to boost sales as an eco-friendly alternative to cod.

Part of the marketing effort implied that British shoppers didn’t like to ask for pollock because its name was too similar to the English curse word “bollocks”. Sainsbury’s promoted the newly-named fish with the slogan “Colin and chips can save British cod.”

Alaskan Pollock

Most pollock consumed in the US is Alaskan pollock, but another commonly used variety is called Saithe. Other names for Alaskan pollock include Atlantic pollock, European pollock, lieu jaune, lythe, Boston blues, coalfish and silver bills.

While it’s not the most exciting fish in the sea, pollock is inexpensive and versatile. It can be breaded and deep fried, pan fried, broiled, or even minced and formed into fish patties. I simply seasoned mine with a little Northwoods fish seasoning and served it with warm salad of Israeli couscous and charred corn, along with fresh steamed broccoli,with a couple of lemon wedges on the side.

I bought frozen pollock filets and they were quite affordable. The flavor was rather bland, so it benefited from the spicy seasoning agents. There’s no real recipe for pollock — you simply spray a sheet pan, spray the filets, season and broil — so here’s the warm couscous salad recipe.

It’s warm because I served it soon after I cooked off the couscous, but it also can be refrigerated and served cold.

Warm Israeli Couscous Salad

1 cup Israeli Couscous

1-1/2 cups Water

3 ears of Corn

1/2 Red Onion, medium dice

1/2 cup Fresh Parsley, finely chopped (I used fresh-picked parsley from our garden –huge taste difference!)

2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Juice of 1 Lemon

Sea Salt

Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

1. Bring water to a boil, then stir in couscous, reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, at least another 10 minutes so that all the liquid can be absorbed.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Shuck the corn, then drop it into the pot and boil about 10 minutes. Remove from water to a plate. Meanwhile, heat up the grill. Spray the corn with pan spray, season with salt and pepper, then place on the hottest part of the grill so that the corn gets a nice, even char. Remove and let rest until cool enough to handle then use a chef’s knife to cut the kernels from the cobs.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine couscous, corn kernels, oil, lemon juice, onion and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm immediately, or chill and serve later.

Although corn is still pretty cheap where I live (I paid $.99 for 3 ears yesterday), I heard that corn prices are expected to rise sharply soon and that some farmers are now feeding their cattle candy because they can’t afford corn feed. In the words of the very funny comedian Yakov Smirnoff, “America.What a country!”

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