Until international fishing regulations control the mass netting process that kills so many baby fish, the future looks very uncertain for many species. Chefs are exploring alternatives to fish such as cod, and in the process we are finding some forgotten, but equally tasty alternatives.
Pollack not to be confused with coley, which is sometimes called pollock is an excellent, cheap and plentiful substitute for cod. It is mostly caught around the Channel Islands and the south-west coast, and is generally smaller than cod. But try to buy fillets from a large fish, as it will be less flaky and easier to cook.
Fresh cockles are not used very often, probably because of those seaside memories of eating them mixed with vinegar and sand from polystyrene containers. If you can find live cockles (clams or mussels will do), they will need washing well to remove any sand. The best way to do this is to keep them running under cold water for about an hour, giving them an occasional stir with your hand, so that they release as much sand as possible.
150g samphire, trimmed, washed and dried 4 x 200g pollack portions from a large fish, boned and skinned
200-250g cockles or clams, washed
100g samphire, prepared and washed
50ml white wine
175g unsalted butter, diced
vegetable oil for cooking
Lightly season the pollack with salt and pepper. Heat a little oil in a large non-stick pan and fry the pollack fillets for about 3 minutes on each side, until they are nicely coloured (if the fillets are very thick you will need to finish them in a hot oven for another 5 to 10 minutes). Meanwhile, give the cockles a final rinse and put them into a large pan with the white wine. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over a high heat until they begin to open, shaking the pan and giving them an occasional stir. Drain the cockles in a colander, reserving the liquid and pouring it back into the pan. Add the samphire and butter to the pan and keep stirring until the butter has melted. Return the cockles to the pan (they will not need seasoning as the samphire will do that) and stir well.
To serve, carefully remove the pollack from the pan with a fish slice and spoon the clams, samphire and butter over the top. Reuse content