Haddock is one of the popular fish frequently featuring in British and Scandinavian cuisine for its non-oily, firm, and lean white flesh.
Haddock belongs to the Cod-family of benthic fish living in cold-waters on either side of the Northern Atlantic coasts.
Scientific name: Melanogrammus aeglefinus.
Haddock fish is also known by many local names such as scrod in the US, and eglefino in France.
|Haddock fish (M. aeglefinus). Photo credit: Marinespecies.org|
Haddock is deep-oceanic, bottom-dwelling fish in the cod family that also includes the pollock and the hakes. Haddock's feature round, streamlined body, dark purplish gray on the top and sides down to the black lateral line, and silvery gray below.
They can be distinguished from other cod family members by their smaller size and a black “thumbprint” (blotch) found on each side of their body.
Haddock is a fast-growing fish species that typically reaches 1 to 3 feet long at maturity and weighs between 2 and 7 pounds.
Its life span is about 10 years, but a typical catch is anywhere between 3 and 7 years.
Haddock is a benthic (demersal) fish that prefers to live close to the ocean bed in deep waters at a depth of 200-500 meters. Haddock does not make long-distance mass migrations.
Haddock predate on a variety of bottom-dwelling creatures, including mollusks, worms, crustaceans, sea stars, fish eggs, and small fish like herrings.
It is one of the finest sources of essential fatty acids, protein, minerals, and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin-A, E, and D.
Haddock's lean, firm, white-meat composes a good amino-acids profile. 100g fish provides 16.32 g/100 g (29% of RDI). Protein composition is complete in the sense that all essential amino acids present in a healthy proportion.
It is a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)Studies have shown that eating seafood can decreases the risk of heart attack, stroke, obesity, and hypertension. Seafood, in general, is low in saturated fat and higher in “heart-healthy” polyunsaturated fat, including omega-3 fatty acids.
Haddock contains just 0.055 ppm of mercury in its flesh. US FDA categorises Haddock in the "best choice" section considering mercury levels in its flesh. The recommendation is the consumption of 2-3 serving (8-12 ounces) per week for haddock fish.
Haddock is a moderate source of omega-3 eicosapentaenoicacid (EPA), docosapantaenoicacid (DPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) fatty acids. Research studies suggest that these fatty acids, particularly DHA, play an important role in the development of nervous system, especially in infants and children.
According to Cornell University and the New York Sea Grant Extension Program. 2012- the fatty acids play a crucial role in decreasing blood pressure and heart rate and help improve cardiovascular function. For example, research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats) that can lead to sudden death.
In adults, several large trials have evaluated the effect of fish or fish oils on heart disease. In the "GISSI Prevention Trial, heart attack survivors who took a 1-gram capsule of omega-3 fats every day for three years were less likely to have a repeat heart attack, stroke, or die of sudden death than those who took a placebo".
Haddock is a deep water non-fatty fish. Hence, it contains only a small amount of vitamin-A in its flesh. Nonetheless, its liver is an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids such as ALA, DHA, and DPA, which help in keeping healthy mucosa, hair, and skin.
Haddock fillet composes B-complex vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine (B-6). It is also a good source of vitamin-E, vitamin-B12, thiamin, and riboflavin.
Further, it is a natural source of minerals like iodine, calcium , zinc, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Iodine is an important trace element in human nutrition and crucial for thyroid hormone synthesis.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.45 g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber||0 g||0%|
|Folate total||12 μg||3%|
|Zinc||0.32 mg||3%||Omega-3 fatty acids (PUFA)|
|EPA (20:5 n-3)||0.042 g||--|
|DPA (22:5 n-3)||0.005 g||--|
|DHA (22:6 n-3)||0.089 g||--|
Haddock fish are available year-round but are at their best from December till February when they fully recovered from spawning, and that is when they are plump and firm-fleshed.
Haddock available as a whole, headed & gutted, or fileted in the US markets. Smoked (Finnan haddock), salt-cured also available in the specialty stores as value-added products.
Look for bright, firm fish with silvery skin, pink gills, and clear eyes. 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.
Haddock spoils early. It remains in good condition for up to about 5 days on the ice. It is recommended that the whole gutted fish should not be kept for more than 2 days in ice, particularly if the thawed product is to be smoked. At home, store fish and fillets in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. For extended use, scale and gut whole fish before storing in a deep freezer below -30°C.
Fresh haddock is a versatile dish, which can be cooked in the same way as cod. If cooking whole haddock, leave the skin to hold on to the flesh together.
Haddock is smooth-flavored fish that absorbs surrounding flavors in a dish. Its firm, white flesh is similar to cod and has a less-flaky texture and subtle flavor.
The flesh in haddocks is firm, a slightly sweeter taste, and not as flaky as Cod, which makes it the best whitefish for smoking.
For sale fresh or frozen, or for making golden cutlets, marketers take single fillets from large haddocks. Small haddocks are usually block filleted.
Here are some serving ideas:
|Grilled haddock with fresh herbs and vegetables. Photo credit: nhoglund|
A similar way to other whitefish, serve haddock grilled, poached, or baked with strong flavor accompaniments like curry or tomato sauce. Depending on the serving size; smaller fish is headed and gutted and can be used in stuffing. Large fish cut in steaks or filleted. Head side portion holds more flavorful flesh.
In Scotland, haddock is the most preferred fish in "fish and chips".
It also makes excellent fish lasagna and pie, especially when the fresh fish is mixed with an equal quantity of smoked haddock.
Smoked haddock is especially flavorful when poached in milk.
Haddock can be substituted for many dishes calling for hake, pollock or cod.
The mean mercury concentration in haddock fish is 0.055 ppm. Accordingly, the U.S FDA final guidelines on how much fish expectant as well as breastfeeding mothers can eat, along with lists of specific options that are safe or should be avoided, places hake in "the best choice" category.
By this yardstick, they can consume 2-3 serving (8-12 ounces) of haddock fish per week. (Medical disclaimer).
Also read <<-Salmon nutrition facts and health benefits.
Further reading (Links opens in new window):
NOAA Fisheries-Species Fact Sheets -Melanogrammus aeglefinus.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution.