How much do you know about the Alaska pollock, one of the most widely distributed palatable fish in the ocean?
For today’s guide, we took a deep dive into the history, biology, and culinary applications of Alaska pollock, putting together dozens of hours of research and experience. Now, we’re happy to share that information with you! By the end of the article, you’ll know all the most important points about Alaska pollock, as well as how to cook and serve it and where to buy some to try.
About the Alaska Pollock
Alaska Pollock is one of the most important sources of fish protein available in the world today, with a huge 3 million tons caught and sold each year from the area between Alaska and Japan alone. This puts it second only behind the Peruvian anchoveta in terms of total yearly catch, making it an incredibly important seafood source that’s sold around the world.
The world is able to keep up with these massive numbers of Alaska pollock catches because of intelligent management and restrictions place on fishing. The management of these fisheries has been hailed as a great success in food production and distribution, gaining recognition from the Marine Stewardship Council as a sustainable fishing practice.
Fast-growing and short lived, it seems that Alaska pollock are ideally situated to be a big part of worldwide fish consumption both now and in the future.
What Does Alaska Pollock Taste Like?
With its wide availability and sustainability as a protein source, Alaska pollock is without a doubt an important addition to the world’s culinary traditions. But aside from its abundance, what makes pollock such an attractive option for cooking with is its fantastic taste!
A mild and flaky fish with a low oil content, Alaska pollock has very little of the “fishy” taste that people associate with fish like bass, perch, or even salmon. It’s exceptionally easy to eat, and isn’t as prone to overcooking as many other popular fish fillets.
Because of its wide availability and approachable taste, Alaska pollock is the fish used in McDonald’s hugely popular Filet O’ Fish sandwich. Additionally, it is the primary ingredient in imitation crab meat, also owing to its mild flavor and delicious texture.
How to Cook and Serve Alaska Pollock
Even though it is now most recognizable for its role in McDonald’s fish sandwiches, Alaska pollock has a much longer history of consumption in Korea — dating back as far as the early 1400s!
With that in mind, let’s take a look at two vastly different ways of cooking and serving Alaska pollock: As a breaded filet, and as a Korean version of a clear pollock soup.
Breaded Alaska Pollock Filets
A distinctly American approach to cooking pollock, adding a light breading will create a crispy crust after a quick sauté. Serve it with rice or vegetables as an anytime of the week meal.
- Alaska Pollock filets, thawed, 1 per person
- Panko bread crumbs
- Parmesan cheese, grated
- Cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- First, make sure that your pollock filets are fully thawed; the best way is to leave them in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
- Next, make a bread crumb mix with two parts Panko bread crumbs and 1 part grated parmesan cheese, seasoned with pinches of salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir in just enough olive oil to make the mixture sticky, but not so much as to saturate the bread crumbs.
- Roll your pollock filets in this bread crumb mixture, adding more oil if necessary to get it to stick.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat in a skillet, and only add the breaded fish when it is very hot.
- Cook for three to five minutes on each side, then serve with lemon wedges and sides.
Clear Alaska Pollock Soup (Saengtae-Tang)
And for the other side of pollock flavors, consider this Korean soup: A boldly flavored stew of Alaska pollock, radish, and mushrooms in a kelp and anchovy broth. Served with a side of freshly steamed rice, it makes for a full and satisfying meal.
To get the authentic flavor, you’ll need to find a Korean anchovy stock at your local Asian market; otherwise, substitute a vegetable stock instead, and add salt to taste.
- 2 pounds Alaska pollock filets, thawed and cut into medium-sized chunks
- 8 cups Korean anchovy stock (vegetable stock is a fine substitution)
- One small daikon radish, about 1/2 pound, peeled and sliced into rounds
- 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt, to taste
- Green onions, for garnish
- Bring your stock to a low boil in a heavy-bottomed sauce pot, then add the sliced radish.
- Add the minced garlic and Alaska pollock, and cook for about one minute before reducing to a simmer.
- Add the fresh shiitake mushrooms and simmer for two minutes.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately, garnished with thinly sliced green onion tops.
Where to Buy Alaska Pollock
Since most Alaska pollock is frozen directly after being caught, buying pollock online to be shipped straight to your door couldn’t be easier (you can even buy it on Amazon). While you can probably find plenty of pollock filets at your local grocery store, these are often refrozen and won’t taste quite as good as once-frozen pollock.
Goldbelly can ship wild-caught Alaska pollock to you directly from the famous Pike’s Place fish market in Washington state. This is without a doubt the highest quality pollock you’ll find to be shipped to you, but the minimum order size of 10 pounds may be a bit excessive for someone who’s just looking to try the fish for the first time.
Always Fresh Fish offers a good alternative for buying smaller quantities of Alaska pollock, where you can mix and match different types of fish filets to meet a 5 pound minimum order. Just like Pike Place’s offerings, these filets have only been frozen one time, and will have a wonderful texture as a result.