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Mar 3, 2013 08:35 AM

Pollack, the universal "fish" substitute.

Many foods that are used as fillers and frauds because they are cheap are also decent foods in their own right. I have had pollack prepared well and memorably in France, (with potatoes, watercress cream and Avruga; paired with an Hautes Cotes de Nuits) ) but suspect most have had it as "krab." When prepared as an honest dish, it can be wonderful, but most of it is as a fraud. See the picture. Moist, firm, infused with delicate watercress that complemented the already delicate flavors of the pollack.

What are your positive experiences with foods usually used as filler or substitutes that were memorable when used on their own?

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      1. re: law_doc89

        Pollack is real fish. It may stand in for other things, but it's not "fish."

      2. I believe the OP is saying that we Americans are more likely to find pollack (plus other ingredients) in the form of fake crab or lobster than as a discrete fish, and asking if we can think of an example of another ingredient being similarly used. My problem with trying to answer the question is that I can't think, right off the bat, of any other desirable food used as a filler or substitute, aside from the common use of apple jelly as the basis for other flavored jellies: mint, rose petal, wisteria and the like. But on the other hand that's pretty much what apple jelly is good for.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Will Owen

          I am confused. There is 'pollock' which stands in as fake crab sometimes. The English have a fish called "pollack". I found a recipe that uses it; do you know what it might be called in North America or what would be an acceptable substitute for this fish?

          1. re: williej

            There are 2 related species, one "Atlantic," the other, "Alaskan." Both are a form of cod. The Alaskan probably makes up th bulk of fish sticks and Krab.

            1. re: williej

              Williej is right. Pollock is regularly sold throughout Britain (not just in England). I like it and buy it often. It's a sustainable fish (confirmed by the Marine Conservation Society) and happily works as a sustitute for cod or haddock dishes. I understand Pacific pollock are more plentiful (therefore more sustainable) than Atlantic pollock.

              1. re: williej

                williej, the English also mount things on their car wheels called tyres, whereas we Americans use tires instead. I suspect that any difference between pollack and pollock is a similar one.

                As the heavily-fished species disappear from our fish markets, in order to prevent them from doing the same in the oceans, I believe it's likely we'll see more varieties (pollock, for instance) that had not been thought worth marketing. I just hope they don't work too hard at making them attractive, as was the case with the Chilean sea bass. Had it kept its original name, Patagonian toothfish, it would probably still be plentiful.

                1. re: williej

                  Pollock is the more accepted spelling; pollack is a recognized alternate spelling which is often seen when the writer guesses as to the correct spelling.

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    In which case, I guess soy products are sometime use as filler for meats. Not completely replace the meat, but sort of blend with the meats.

                    I am sure that some of us also have heard that taco bell beef is mostly NOT beef.



                  2. I remember that my parents often complained of restaurants serving pork cutlets but calling them veal cutlets.

                    Pork cutlets, cooked correctly, are lovely. I've made very good pork parmigiana, and had memorable pork milanese. Wallet and palate friendly.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: pinehurst

                      There was a restaurateur in Nashville who was caught doing exactly that. His place was very expensive and extremely pretentious, a huge favorite with the white-limousine set, many of whom unfortunately were not supposed to be eating pork at all. He tried to make a fuss about reporters "impersonating" patrons to obtain their samples, but it didn't fly.

                      We on the other hand have quasi-religious objections to eating veal, so our cutlets are either pork or turkey. I also use turkey instead of veal to make bratwurst (with pork), and make turkey tonnato.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        You know, that's very the McDonald's frying-with-beef-tallow issue. Hadn't thought of it.

                        Tell me about turkey tonnato?

                        1. re: pinehurst

                          This not being the Home Cooking Board I won't go into detail, but if you look up a recipe for Vitello Tonnato, one that involves making a sauce and then assembling the dish, you can see that sliced cooked turkey breast (or it could be sliced pork loin) can substitute for the veal traditionally used. It's a delicious warm-weather dish, and it keeps very well if refrigerated. I like to add sliced hard-boiled egg as well.

                    2. I guess there is a similarity to turkey, which used to make substitute ham, salami, bologna, etc., but is also good on its own.