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Pollock or pollack (zool.: Pollachius virens) is the most common name of two species of fish in the family of Gadidae within the order of Gadiformes. Pollocks have elongated bodies with dorsal and anal fins standing close together but clearly separated. The clearly visible lighter lateral line runs parallel to the back. The back of pollocks is black, sometimes with a green or brown tinge. At the sides the colour changes to dark silver and the belly is silvery-white. Older pollocks have a slightly protruding lower jaw. The chin barbels characteristic for other Gadidae species are very short or non-existent. Mature pollocks may grow up to 1.2 m and weigh up to 7 kg.

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Habitat of pollocks


Pollocks are native to the North Atlantic, the northern part of the North Sea, the Skagerrak strait and the Kattegat. They are not very specialised and may be found close to the coast as well as in the open sea, in deep water or close to the surface. Young pollocks feed mainly on crustaceans and fish roe. Mature animal feed on smaller shoaling fish almost exclusively.

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Trade names of pollocks

Both species in the genus Pollachius are commonly referred to as pollock or pollack. Pollachius pollachius is also known as European Pollock, Atlantic Pollock, lythe, or lieu jaune. Pollachius virens is sometimes known as saithe, or, due to its black dorsal side, as coal fish or coley. Pollocks were not always as popular as a food fish as they are today. From the beginning of the 1930s it rose in popularity until it was heavily overfished at the end of the 1990s.

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Pollock in retail

Pollocks in retail have an average weight of 0.8 - 1.5 kg. The filets are sold fresh or frozen. Pollock has become infamous as a cheap salmon substitute for which it is coloured with Cochenille Red or similar food dyes. It is also available as dried salted pollock or stockfish, the latter consisting of dried unsalted fish halves.

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Preparation of pollock

Pollock has light grey, tender meat that turns white during cooking. Compared to other members of the Gadidae family (for example cod or whiting) it has a distinct flavour. It is well suited for sweating, baking and frying. In Germany it is traditionally served on Fridays, typically breaded and fried with remoulade and potato salad.

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