Cod can be found in almost any sea area around Scotland from the shoreline to depths in excess of 200 metres. Its moist, mild-tasting white meat can be prepared in many ways and it is commonly served in fish and chip shops.
The cod became one of the most sought-after fish during the 20th century, and it was its popularity that caused its enormous decline and precarious situation today. There are currently strict fishing quotas in place for catching cod in the north east Atlantic Ocean and North Sea.
Haddock is extremely popular in Scotland, not least because haddock is a popular choice at the chip shop! Related to the cod family, it has a flaky texture and is extremely good for a healthy diet. In recent years the fish stock has been in decline.
The fish is extremely versatile and quite delicious when smoked. Popular smoked haddock dishes include the Arbroath Smokie, a hot-smoked haddock produced within 8km of Arbroath, and Finnan Haddie which is a brined and smoked haddock often served grilled with butter or poached in milk.
Whiting is a small member of the cod family but is more economical and sustainable to buy than cod. They are widely distributed both inshore and offshore around the Scottish coast and throughout the North Sea.
Whiting has a firm white flesh with a delicate flavour and is best used very fresh. It is excellent for making homemade fishcakes and fish fingers.
Herring, also known as the ‘silver darling’, was once the staple fish in Scotland. Although its popularity has declined in recent years it is still one of the most widely caught fish in Scotland with a hefty 25,000 tonnes of herring landed per annum by Scottish fishermen.
This relatively inexpensive little fish boasts many health benefits and they are best eaten between late spring and autumn. Popular herring dishes in Scotland include herring rolled in oatmeal and pan-fried in butter, kippers - a cold smoked herring - and soused or roll mop herring which have been marinated in salt, vinegar and onion.
Mackerel is in plentiful supply and is one of the most important species to the whole of the Scottish fishing industry with annual catch of 145,000 tonnes. This firm-fleshed, oil-rich fish is easily recognisable from its torpedo-like shape and iridescent silver and blue striped skin.
As well as being sustainable, mackerel tastes great and is good for your health because it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It is usually served pan-fried, grilled or smoked. It is also popular in patés and goes well with sharp fruits like rhubarb and gooseberries.