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 Pollock, while P. virens is sometimes known as Boston Blues (separate from Bluefish), Coalfish 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 590.55 ft (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 “white fish”. 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. The most important Pollock fishery is the Bering Sea fishery of Alaska.
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 Norwegian Pollock (Theragra finnmarchica). While related (they are also members of the family Gadidae) to the above Pollock, they are not members of the Pollachius genus.
Alaskan Pollock is the largest food fish resource in the world. More than 3 million tons of Alaska Pollock are caught each year in the North Pacific from Alaska to northern Japan. Alaska Pollock catches from U.S. fisheries have been quite consistent at about 1.5 million tons a year, almost all of it from the Bering Sea.
The Alaskan Pollock is said to be “the largest remaining source of palatable fish in the world.”\ However, the biomass of Pollock has declined in recent years, perhaps spelling trouble for both the Bering Sea ecosystem and the commercial fishery it supports.
Atlantic Pollock is largely considered to be a white fish, although it is a fairly strongly flavored one. Alaska Pollock has a much milder taste, whiter color and lower oil content.
High quality, single frozen whole Alaska pollock fillets may be layered into a block mold and deep frozen to produce fish blocks that are used throughout Europe and North America as the raw material for high quality breaded and battered fish products. Lower quality, double-frozen fillets or minced trim pieces may also be frozen in block forms and used as raw material for lower quality, low-cost breaded and battered fish sticks, portions, etc.
Single frozen Alaska Pollock is considered to be the premier raw material for surimi; the most common use of surimi in the United States is “imitation crabmeat” (also known as crab stick).
Alaska pollock is commonly used in the fast food industry, for example the fish filet of Dairy Queen, Arby’s, and Burger King are also made from Alaska pollock. McDonald’s uses Hoki and/or pollock in their Filet-O-Fish sandwich.
Photo by Georges Jansoone