Once Unpopular But Now On The Rise

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In New England, the pollock fishery, once decimated by overfishing, is now managed sustainably and the population is healthy. This species is different from Alaskan pollock—but both are sustainable choices.

Before the 1980s, Atlantic pollock were primarily harvested as bycatch. However, demand grew steadily, peaking in 1986. By 1994, the stock crashed due to overfishing. But under improved management the population has rebounded. Today, the species is under Sector management, a modified catch share, as part of the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan – and projected populations growth is at an all-time high.

The resurgence of Atlantic Pollock is considered a major ecological success, but seafood markets have been slow to develop.   In 2014, only 26% of the potential harvest was actually caught, in large part because of low demand. Much of the catch is still sold to lower end markets, often reserved for drying and salting. This is unfortunate, because Atlantic Pollock has a delicious flavor on par with other consumer favorites from New England such as haddock and cod. And it is especially versatile according to many chefs.  High end restaurants in New England are finally starting to request Pollock because of its increasing regional popularity, and it is a staple offering of local community supported fishery (CSF) programs.  Now, more marketing and education campaigns have begun promoting it as a delicious and sustainable choice. Under Sector management, fishermen can now take their time to fish this healthy stock using selective and sustainable harvesting methods.

This delicate fish is moderately firm when cooked, with a robust flavor.

Groundfish Minestrone

CHEF RICHARD GARCIA
YIELD: 12 PORTIONS

Preparation

8 oz dried Maine Yellow Eyed beans soaked overnight (any dried white bean will work)
3 oz slab bacon, cut into ¼ inch pieces
2 tbsp olive oil blend
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 pieces celery, medium dice
2 medium onions, medium dice
3 carrots, peeled and medium dice
8 cups lobster stock (or good quality fish stock)
1 white potato cut into ½ inch cubes
½ cup winter squash medium dice (butternut, red kuri etc)
15 oz canned plum tomatoes drained and chopped
½ cup shredded Savoy cabbage
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
6 oz kale rough chopped
8 oz cooked Maine lobster, cut into bite-sized pieces
8 oz Gulf Of Maine Acadian red fish fillets, boneless/skinless cut into 1x1 chunks and sautéed until cooked
8 oz Gulf Of Maine Pollock boneless/skinless cut into 1x1 chunks and sautéed until cooked
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1. Cook the soaked beans in water until they are just tender. Reserve.
2. Using a large, heavy soup pot, fry the bacon in the olive oil. Add the garlic, stirring and cooking until it starts to just brown. Add the chopped celery, onion, and carrots, stirring and cooking until the vegetables start to soften. Stir in the lobster stock and bring the mixture to a boil.
3. Add the potatoes and squash and cook until they start to soften, then stir in the beans, plum tomatoes, Savoy cabbage, kale and basil. Simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper.
4. When ready to serve, bring the soup to just under a boil and stir in the fish and Maine lobster and cook over gentle heat until seafood is warmed through. .
Serving Suggestion: Transfer to soup bowls and sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of fresh parmesan cheese on top. Serve.

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