What is Haddock?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Haddock is a fish species of the genus called Melanogrammus aegelfinus which can be found in the North Atlantic, on both the European and the North American coast. It’s a popular fish with a white underside, and a black line running across its top. It can grow to be about 3.6 feet (1.1 m) long and is fished year round, particularly on the European coast. There has been an interesting change in haddocks in the last few decades: they are now growing larger more quickly, and the juveniles, which tends to stay in fairly shallow water, are now found in larger sizes.

Lumpfish, like Haddock, is a type of fish typically found in the North Atlantic.
Lumpfish, like Haddock, is a type of fish typically found in the North Atlantic.

Larger and older haddock can swim in very cold and deep water, almost 1000 feet (304.8 m) from the ocean’s surface. These are difficult to catch, and most often smaller juveniles that prefer a depth of about 100 feet (30.48 m) are more likely to be caught. A variety of methods are used to catch haddock, but some concern about decline in fishing catches in North America led to fewer people being familiar with the fish as a food source. This population is recovering, and haddock is once again being seen as a common food, especially in the North American East Coast. It has always been popular in Northern Europe.

Haddock is found in the North Atlantic.
Haddock is found in the North Atlantic.

This fish has survived aggressive fishing because of its ability to quickly reproduce. Older and larger females can lay up to three million eggs a year. Younger fish just reaching sexual maturity may lay several hundred thousand. Of course, not all these fish survive and make it beyond the egg stage, but enough of them do to keep the population relatively stable.

Perhaps the reason for its popularity is that in taste, the fish is quite similar to cod. It’s a mild white fish that goes well with a variety of ingredients. In Massachusetts, haddock is sometimes called scrod, to distinguish it from cod, and to denote its juvenile status. The fish may be called by different names according to size. Markets are medium size and cows are the largest haddock. People also enjoy haddock because it is a very lean fish, with high amount of vitamin B12 and protein. If you’re looking for an oily fish to consume to get your omega-3 fatty acids, haddock is not a good choice, as it is too low in these fats.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


@Pippinwhite -- Another good way to bake haddock is to mix ranch dressing mix with mayo, coat the fish in it, and then in panko crumbs and bake it. That also adds some moisture, as well as flavor to it. I like haddock, but it can be very mild and it needs some kick.

I think one of my favorite things about fresh fish is the short cooking time. It just takes less time to do fish than it does to cook beef or pork, or even chicken. I can usually get haddock nicely done in about 10 minutes, or even less.

Try panko crumbs if you never have. They're a lot lighter and crunchier than bread crumbs. I really prefer them.


Haddock is really good for pan frying. My favorite way to do it is to coat the fish in a mixture of ground pecans, parmesan cheese and herbs and then pan fry it. That's a great way to add flavor and texture. It doesn't take very long -- just a couple of minutes on each side, depending on how thick the filet is.

Baking the haddock filet with the same coating also works fine. This is a great way to use up any leftover pecans from the holidays. Walnuts, almonds or cashews are also fine in this recipe.

With so many more people eating fish, it's always good to come across a really tasty recipe.

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