How to cook haddock

Our guide includes top tips from fine dining chef, Nico Fitzgerald...
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  • If you want to learn how to pan-fry, poach or roast haddock to perfection, then take a look at our simple guide on how to cook haddock.

    Haddock is a firm-fleshed white fish with a mild and delicate flavour. It’s found on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, however, it’s most common in European waters. 

    You can spot haddock in the fishmongers or supermarket fish counter by the noticeable stripe down its side. It also has a black mark just above the fin, which according to fish folklore, is said to be the thumbprint of St Peter; a biblical fisherman.

    Because of its delicate, sweet flavour, haddock takes very well to being smoked. It is common to find haddock smoked, and often dyed a yellow, golden colour, though the dyed fish is less common nowadays.

    *Where to buy haddock
    *How to prepare haddock
    *How to cook a whole haddock
    *How to cook haddock fillets and smoked haddock fillets
    *How to cook haddock: in a pan
    *How to cook haddock: in the oven
    *How to cook haddock: in foil or paper
    *How to cook haddock: in milk
    *Our best haddock recipes

    How to cook haddock

    Where to buy haddock

    When it comes to buying haddock we’d recommend purchasing from your local fishmongers or at a supermarket fish counter. Don’t be afraid to ask when the fish was caught, or for the fishmonger to scale, remove pin-bones, and prep the fish for you. You could also ask if they have any tips on cooking the fish too.

    Due to overfishing, in 2017, haddock was taken off of the list of ‘fish to eat’ by the Marine Conservation Society as stock levels in the North Atlantic were below the recommended level. They are now on the rise again, however, with this in mind, we always advise that you choose responsibly sourced haddock displaying a blue MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) label.

    All fish with this label has come from a fishery that has been independently assessed to the MSC Fisheries Standard. You can also opt for more sustainable white fish such as plaice, pollock, skate, and coley.

    How to prepare haddock

    You don’t need to do much to prepare haddock especially if you get the fishmongers to do it for you. Just make sure the skin is clean and that the fish is at room temperature before cooking. This will help to make sure the fish cooks evenly.

    We asked Nico Fitzgerald, Head Chef of fine dining restaurant London Stock to share some of his expert tips and tricks when it comes to preparing haddock.

    ‘When it comes to cooking haddock in the restaurant or at home, my preferred method of preparing the fish is to make a ballotine. This is where lengths of the fillet are tightly rolled in cling film to create a thick ‘sausage’.

    I then cut into beautiful (100g or so) chunks and sear on one side, with the cling film still on to get a good amount of caramelisation, I then flip it over and pop it in the oven for 4-5 mins or until a skewer goes right the way through it without any resistance. Rest for a few mins then remove the cling film and serve.’

    Nico adds; ‘If you have a piece of haddock that you’ve been putting off cooking, perhaps it’s been in the fridge for 2-3 days and is not as fresh as you’d like it to be or you want to improve its texture, get some coarse sea salt and coat your fish generously in salt. Leave for 20-30 mins and then wash off, allowing it to air dry in your fridge. This will give it a beautiful meaty feel and will ‘freshen’ it up if it is a couple of days old.’

    How to cook a whole haddock

    How to cook haddock

    Due to the size of haddock, it’s usually sold as fillets, however, if you are looking to cook a whole haddock, be sure to ask your fishmonger to scale, gut and remove the gills for you.

    Haddock can grow to be quite large, so depending on size, you should ask them to remove the head as well, this will save space in the roasting tray.

    You can cook the whole fish directly on a BBQ, cook it ‘en papillote’ – where you enclose the fish in a parcel of baking paper and bake with herbs and lemon juice or you can simply roast in the oven. The time it takes to cook a whole haddock will vary on the size of the fish and the method you choose to cook it but a rule of thumb is to cook haddock for 15-20 mins per 450g.

    To cook in the oven:

    1. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.
    2. Stuff the cavity of the fish with fresh herbs of your choice, along with slices of lemons and onions.
    3. Drizzle olive oil or melted butter liberally all over the fish and season with salt and pepper.

    How to cook haddock fillets and smoked haddock fillets

    Haddock is traditionally cold smoked for flavour, but still requires cooking. Cooking methods for both smoked and unsmoked haddock are the same, it’s just a matter of personal preference. Make sure that your fillets have been pin-boned.

    The following methods are based on fillets between 150g-200g in weight. 

    How to cook haddock: in a pan

    How to cook haddock

    1. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add a glug of olive oil. If you’re cooking fillets with the skin on, salt the skin and place the skin-side down.
    2. Depending on the thickness of the fish, cook for 4-5 mins, before turning and cooking for a further min.
    3. If your fillets are skinless, cook for 2-3 mins on each side. For a richer dish, you can also cook with butter, basting throughout the cooking. 

    How to cook haddock: in the oven

    How to cook haddock

    Baking fish in the oven is a fuss-free way of cooking as you can just leave it to do its thing, though timings are crucial for perfectly cooked fillets.

    1. Brush with oil or melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a preheated oven at 200C/Gas 6 for 15 mins.
    2. Roast with some par-boiled potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and french beans for a simple fishy traybake.
    3. If roasting with vegetables takes longer to cook than the fish, be sure to cook these first, adding the haddock for the last 15 mins.

    How to cook haddock: in foil or paper

    How to cook haddock

    The wonderful thing about cooking fish in foil or en papillote, is that you get beautifully tender fish, as it steams and roasts at the same time.

    1. Lay a sheet of baking paper or tin foil on a baking tray and add the fillet.
    2. Add a splash of white wine or vermouth, along with some fresh herbs and a few slices of lemon.
    3. Enclose the paper or tin foil loosely to make a parcel. Seal by folding over the edges that meet at the top.
    4. Bake in a preheated oven at 200C/Gas 6 for 15 mins.

    How to cook haddock: in milk

    How to cook haddock

    Poaching haddock in a liquid is another great way to cook it, and milk offers a wonderful richness. You want to cook it gently, so no boiling is necessary, this will only leave you with overcooked fish. 

    1. In a large saucepan or high-sided frying pan, gently simmer 4 haddock fillets in 1ltr of milk with a pinch of salt.
    2. Cook for 5-7 mins, depending on the thickness of the flesh.
    3. Remove from the milk and serve with boiled new potatoes and seasonal vegetables.

    Save leftovers for dishes such as salads, kedgeree, or fish cakes. You should also save the poaching milk to use for creamy fish sauces or the base of a fish pie.

    Our best haddock recipes

    They are a variety of ways to serve haddock. Nico Fitzgerald, Head Chef of fine dining restaurant London Stock says; ’One of my favourite flavour pairings with haddock is miso; it’s a very meaty fish that stands up to strong flavours.

    A simple recipe I regularly turn to starts with reducing a small glass of white wine by half with 1tbsp of dark brown sugar. I then blitz in the miso, bit by bit, until I have a thick paste. Cut a haddock fillet into 100g pieces and lather them in the miso marinade. Leave it for about 3-4 hrs in the fridge then roast in the oven at 180C/Gas 4 for 9-10 mins.

    Haddock and potato are an obvious match made in heaven (think fish and chips), why not try slicing some potatoes into thin disks then sitting your haddock on top with a good squeeze of lemon and some salt. Wrap in foil and bake at 160C for 15 mins and you’ll have an amazing one-pot dinner.’

    Smoked haddock in mushroom sauce

    This simple and delicious recipe uses poaching milk to make a rich, creamy sauce.

    Get the recipe: Smoked haddock in mushroom sauce

    Haddock and rice

    haddock and rice

    For a spicy midweek supper, give our tender smoked haddock and rice with peas and coriander a try.

    Get the recipe: Haddock and rice

    Fish pie

    Fish pie recipe

    Haddock in this recipe is topped with creamy mash and paired with white fish.

    Get the recipe: Fish pie

    Irish fish chowder with soda bread 

    irish fish chowder with soda bread

    In our take on Irish fish chowder, we’ve used smoked haddock, salmon fillet, and king prawns for a real luxurious dish.

    Get the recipe: Irish fish chowder with soda bread

    Quick kedgeree

    600 calorie meals Quick kedgeree recipe

    Toss chunks of haddock with boiled egg, plenty of seasoning, and rice to make this quick kedgeree.

    Get the recipe: Quick kedgeree

    Roast haddock supper

    Roast-haddock-supper

    This fuss-free haddock traybake is a super quick and healthy dish, perfect for midweek when slaving over a hot stove is the last thing you want to do.

    Get the recipe: Roast Haddock Supper

    Joe Wicks’ Lean in 15 Goan fish curry

    Joe Wicks' Lean in 15 Goan fish curry

    Ditch the carbs, but not the flavour with Joe Wicks’ fragrant Goan fish curry.

    Get the recipe: Joe Wicks’ Lean in 15 Goan fish curry

    Smoked haddock chowder

    This filling fish chowder is a hearty dish infused with a rich, smoked flavour thanks to the haddock.

    Get the recipe: Smoked haddock chowder