“What happened to haddock?” I asked myself out loud the other day. I never see it in recipe books or magazines anymore. And it’s never shown in any of the popular TV cooking shows these days. So what happened? Has it just fallen from foodie grace?
I remember as a child having haddock on a weekly basis and our family sure knew how to try and disguise it. We would have it, in one of its forms, as steamed haddock in milk with a mustardy, cheesy sauce and mashed potato. In another of its guises it would arrive as a fish pie covered with a white sauce and parsley. But a big bowl of colourful kedgeree was my absolute favourite and I must confess I enjoyed the boiled eggs in the mix. Fish and eggs – not a combination that immediately springs to mind in any other instance, but it works.
So thinking about where haddock had gone to, I wondered if it had become too expensive perhaps. Not so, it appears. According to the online shopping options out there, it seems you can get 500g of prime wood smoked, frozen haddock fillets for a mere R52.99. That’s enough to feed a family of four, so it’s not a bad price. Especially considering that fish is such a healthy protein option, being lean and containing vital omega 3 oils and other much needed vitamins. So it doesn’t appear to be the price that has affected the popularity and there’s no shortage of smoked haddock in South Africa either.
So then, what is the reason for haddock’s recent obscurity?
I decided to dig a bit more to find some facts about haddock and imagine my surprise when I discovered that what we call haddock in South Africa is not haddock at all, but hake that has been smoked and coloured with annatto, a natural food colourant. Real haddock is a white-fleshed fish of the cod family, and North Sea Haddock, which is available in the United Kingdom, is not imported into the South African market. In SA there is only one product sold as ‘haddock’ by all processors and that’s the smoked and coloured South African hake, which is specified in accordance with the SABS requirements on all local producers’ packaging. Imagine that.
But with international TV shows and recipe books choosing not to focus on haddock at all anymore, the mysterious disappearance of the ingredient is not just a South African phenomenon. It’s just something that’s fallen out of favour with consumers and chefs alike. Haddock is just not a fashionable food any longer.