Haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus))
Protein-16.32%, Fat-0.45%, Water-83.38%
The name haddock is used in Britain to describe only one species, Melanogrammus aeglefinus, and there are no other English common names for it. The vast majority of haddocks landed in Britain are between 30 and 70 cm. The haddock feeds mainly on shellfish, sea urchins, worms, and small fish like sand eels and capelin. The haddock is found on both sides of the north Atlantic but is more abundant on the European side. The chemical composition of haddock flesh is similar to that of cod and other members of the cod family. Single fillets are taken from large haddocks, but most small haddocks are block filleted, for sale fresh or frozen, or for making golden cutlets. A block fillet is the flesh cut from both sides of the fish, the two pieces remaining joined along the back. The fillets may be marketed with or without skin, but the skin with its distinctive ‘thumbprint’ is often left on the fillet to enable the buyer to distinguish the haddock from less valuable species. Increasing amounts of small haddock fillets are used for the manufacture of laminated blocks, that is frozen blocks of skinless, boneless fillets which can be cut into pieces of uniform size and weight for sale as fish fingers or portions. The haddock is used to make a number of smoked white fish products, notably the finnan haddock and similar cured products, the golden cutlet and smoked single fillet, all of which are cold smoked, and the smokie, which is hot smoked.
English seaport of Grimsby has been famous for smoked haddock. The UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), defines Traditional Grimsby smoked fish “as fillets of cod and haddock, weighing between 200 and 700 grams, which have been cold smoked in accordance with the traditional method and within a defined geographical area around Grimsby. In 2009, Traditional Grimsby smoked fish was awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the European Commission.
The finnan haddock, or finnan, is made by beheading a medium sized gutted haddock, cleaning the gut cavity by removing the black skin and any traces of blood and kidney lying beneath the backbone, and then splitting the fish open by cutting along the underside from neck to tail; in the so-called London cut the backbone lies on the left side of the split fish, whereas in the Aberdeen cut the backbone is on the right. The split fish are brined for 7-15 minutes in an 80° brine, depending on size; for example a haddock 16” (40 cm) long and weighing about 18 oz (½ kg) requires about 10 minutes. No dye is added to the brine. (Add 2.2 lbs of salt to 1 gallon of water. This makes 80 degrees brine). The brined fish are either tentered or speated, and left to drain for a time so that a good surface gloss develops. The fish are smoked at 80° F (27° C); a ½ kg fish takes about 3½ hours in a mechanical kiln, but smaller fish may take only 3 hours, whereas large haddock may take 4 hours or more to attain the desired pale straw color.
Golden Cutlets (block fillets)
The golden cutlet is made from a block fillet of haddock or whiting. The fillet is brined for about 3 minutes in 80° brine, laid over banjoes or tentered by the tail, left to drain and to develop a gloss on the cut surface for about 2 hours and then smoked at 80° F (27° C); cutlets take 2-2½ hours in a mechanical kiln. A small amount of dye is usually added to the brine bath.
The pales are made mainly from small haddock, less than 0.75 lb, and they are smoked so lightly that they have only the barest detectable smoky flavour and almost no yellow color. The fish are beheaded, cleaned and split along the belly so that the backbone remains on the left side of the fish. Fish are brined in 80º brine for 4-5 minutes, drained and smoked at 80° F (27° C) for 2.5 hours.
Single fillets with the skin on, taken from medium and large haddocks, are brined for 4-10 minutes depending on size in 80° brine to which dye may be added, laid over screens and drained for at least 2 hours, and then smoked at 80° F (27° C) for 5 hours. The skin is left on not only to distinguish smoked haddock from smoked cod, but also to prevent the softer flesh of the haddock from gaping and tearing too much.
Smokies are hot smoked small haddocks. The fish are beheaded and the gut cavity cleaned out. Gutted haddocks weighing 0.5 - 0.75 lb are selected. The first smokies were made in Arbroath, south of Aberdeen in Scotland. The smoked haddocks were called smokies due to their dark tarry appearance which was the result of smoking in a barrel over a fire. The fish are tied together by the tail in pairs and brined for 30-45 minutes in 80º brine. (Add 2.2 lbs of salt to 1 gallon of water. This makes 80 degrees brine).
The brined haddocks are hung over smokesticks and:
- smoked at 176 - 194° F (80-90° C) for 1 hour. This dries out the skin and will help to obtain golden brown color.
- smoked at 110 - 120° F (43 - 49° C) for 1 hour.
- cooked with smoke at 160 - 170° F (72 - 77° C) for 1 hour.
- The finished product can be eaten without further cooking.