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Pollock (or pollack, pronounced the same and listed first in most UK and US dictionaries) is the common name used for either of the two species of marine fish in the Pollachius genus. Both P. pollachius and P. virens are commonly referred to as pollock. Other names for P. pollachius include the Atlantic pollock, European pollock, lieu jaune, and lythe; while P. virens is sometimes known as Boston blues (distinct from bluefish), coalfish (or coley), Silver Bills or saithe.
Both species can grow to 3 ft 6 in (1.07 m) and can weigh up to 46 lb (21 kg). The fish has a strongly-defined silvery lateral line running down the sides. Above the lateral line the color is a greenish black. The belly is white. It can be found in water up to 100 fathoms (180 m) deep over rocks, and anywhere in the water column. They have a range from North Carolina up to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Pollock are a "whitefish". They are an important part of the New England and North Atlantic fisheries, though less so than cod and haddock. They spawn in late winter and early spring on Georges Bank, off the New England coast.
Other fish called pollock
There are also members of the Theragra genus that are commonly referred to as pollock. This includes the Alaska pollock or walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) and the rarer Norwegian pollock (Theragra finnmarchica). While related (they are also members of the family Gadidae) to the above pollock species, they are not members of the Pollachius genus. Alaska pollock generally spawn in late winter and early spring on Southeast Bering Sea. The Alaskan pollock fishery in the Bering Sea fishery is the largest single-species food fish fishery in the world.
Atlantic pollock is largely considered to be a whitefish, although it is a fairly strongly flavored one. Although traditionally a popular source of food in some countries like Norway, in the United Kingdom it has previously been largely consumed as a cheaper and versatile alternative to cod and haddock in the West Country, elsewhere being known mostly for its traditional use as "Pollack for puss / coley for the cat." However, in recent years pollock has become more popular due to over-fishing of cod and haddock. It can now be found in most supermarkets as fresh fillets or prepared freezer items. For example, when minced, it is the primary component of fish fingers and Popcorn Fish.
Because of its slightly gray color pollock is often prepared, as in Norway, as fried fish balls or if juvenile sized maybe breaded with oatmeal and fried as in Shetland. Year old fish are traditionally split, salted and dried over a peat hearth in Orkney where their texture becomes wooden and somewhat phosphorescent. The fish can also be salted and smoked and achieve a salmon-like orange color (although it is not closely related to the salmon), as is the case in Germany where the fish is commonly sold as Seelachs or sea salmon.
The Colin Rebrand in the U.K.
In 2009, U.K. supermarket Sainsbury's renamed pollock 'Colin' in bid to boost eco-friendly sales of the fish as an alternative to cod. The supermarket also suggested some shoppers may be too embarrassed to ask for the species under its proper title, due to its reputation as an inferior fish, and its similarity to a popular English swear word. Sainsbury's, which said the new name was derived from the French for cooked pollock "Colan", and pronounced like former US general Colin Powell - launched the product under the banner "Colin and chips can save British cod."
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2006). Species of Pollachius in FishBase. June 2006 version.
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2006). "Pollachius pollachius" in FishBase. June 2006 version.
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2006). "Pollachius virens" in FishBase. June 2006 version.
- Davidson, Alan. Oxford Companion to Food (1999), “Saithe”, p. 682. ISBN 0-19-211579-0
- Norum, Ben. Big Book of Ben, The (2007), "pollock / pollack", p.32