Neptune's Bounty: Eating 52 species in 52 weeks to explore alternatives to cod, haddock, tuna, salmon and prawns.
Alaskan pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) is a white round fish similar to cod in terms of colour and texture. It's not the same as pollock (also known as lythe or green pollock), which is similar to coley, although all are white, round, cod-like fish. Other names for Alaskan pollock include Pacific pollock or walleye pollock. I like to include the Latin name where I can for the species featured on Neptune's Bounty, to minimise confusion, especially as many different fish have many different names in different parts of the world. At least with Latin it's the same the world over!
Pollock is thought to make up half of the world's fish stocks (DK Fish Cookbook, Dorling Kindersley Ltd, 2011, pp.316) and is one of the largest sources of fish as food on Earth. A recent article in The Grocer (gold membership required to read I'm afraid) highlighted pollock's sustainability credentials after it scored highly on the latest version of the Marine Conservation Society's (MSC) Good Fish Guide. Compared to cod fisheries, Alaskan pollock fisheries fare much better in terms of sustainability. In addition, The Grocer goes on to highlight not only the cheaper cost of pollock but the increase in new supermarket lines like fish fingers and breaded fillets being added at some major supermarkets this year.
So for the thrifty and sustainability-consocius shopper, Alaskan pollock sounds like a winner. But what about taste? It goes best in stews, fish soups and fish pies, things like curries or even deep fried (it holds its shape okay). It has good flavour, and tastes of 'fish' rather than just trying to include a bland, alternative to white meat instead. I'm always in favour of good quality frozen fish to get people eating more seafood so I created the pollock, chorizo and butterbeans stew below to show how easy and convenient this fish can be, plus it's easy on the wallet too.
This is an good storecupboard recipe, you don’t need to have spanking fresh fish in the fridge or get lots of ingredients in that might go off if you change your plans at the last minute. Tinned butterbeans and tomatoes from the cupboard and frozen pollock mean that this is a dish you can make as and when. Chorizo has a reasonable shelf life in the fridge as well. If you can't get pollock, use any cod-like white fish, or even a fish pie mix. If your chorizo lacks oomf add a chopped hot chilli in with the garlic.
Pollock, Chorizo and Butterbean Stew
- 1 pack frozen MSC Pollock fillets, defrosted (these were £2.99 for 380g, about 4-5 fillets)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 banana shallots, peeled and sliced
- half a chorizo ring, sliced (about 130g)
- 1 clove garlic, finely sliced
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tin good quality chopped tomatoes
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 1 tin butterbeans, drained and rinsed (or cooked from dried, about 100g)
- fresh basil and crusty bread, to serve
- Chopping board
- Cook’s knife
- Wooden spoon
- Smallish casserole or medium sized saucepan
- Dish to defrost the fish on
- Cling film
- Measuring spoons
- Tin opener (if needed)
- Measuring jug
- Bread knife
- Defrost the fish in the fridge overnight, covered in a dish that will catch any water.
- When it's defrosted heat the olive oil over a medium heat in the casserole. Add the shallots and fry for 5 minutes with a little salt and pepper till they start to soften.
- Add the chorizo, garlic and thyme, cook for a little longer till the chorizo juices start to come out.
- Pour in the tomatoes and the stock, bring to a simmer.
- Slice the fish into chunks and add to the pan. Continue to simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the tin of butter beans and cook for another 10 minutes till the fish is cooked and the beans have soaked up some of the liquid.
- Check seasoning. Serve with fresh basil and crusty bread.