Flaky and suc­cu­lent had­dock dishes

With its firm white flesh and del­i­cate flavour, had­dock lends it­self to a va­ri­ety of light and tasty dishes for spring sup­pers

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Had­dock’s creamy white flesh falls away from the fork in light flakes, its flavour sub­tle and slightly sweet. This salt­wa­ter fish be­longs to the Ga­di­dae fam­ily, which also in­cludes whit­ing, pol­lack and cod. Like the lat­ter, it is a sta­ple on most chip shop menus and in the north of Eng­land and Scot­land is often the most pop­u­lar choice for a por­tion of fish and chips. How­ever, this is a ver­sa­tile fish that can be en­joyed in a num­ber of ways, whether fresh, smoked or dried.

Cook­ing prepa­ra­tion

Fresh had­dock is often baked whole, some­times with the skin on, or in­cluded in a fish pie. Whether bought whole or in fil­lets, fish is cho­sen with firm, white flesh and a smell of the ocean that is not un­pleas­ant. Had­dock also takes very well to be­ing smoked and has been pre­served in this way in the smoke­houses of Grimsby for 150 years and in Ar­broath since the 1800s. The process gen­er­ally be­gins with salt­ing, be­fore the fish is dried and fi­nally smoked. How­ever, dif­fer­ent and very pre­cise meth­ods can be ap­plied to each stage and vary by re­gion. Both Abroath smok­ies and Grimsby smoked fish are now reg­is­tered as be­ing of Pro­tected Geo­graph­i­cal In­di­ca­tion. The process im­parts a golden colour­ing on the oth­er­wise pale meat, a more salty flavour and drier tex­ture. Had­dock is very high in pro­tein, nat­u­rally lean and low in fat. It also pro­vides large amounts of Vi­ta­min B12, which can­not be pro­duced by the hu­man body so must be found in food, and niacin, which can im­prove joint mo­bil­ity and help ease the symp­toms of arthri­tis. Its breed­ing sea­son runs from March un­til April, at which time shoals are al­lowed to re­plen­ish. In May, it comes back into sea­son as a favoured dish.

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