A Story and a Recipe

By Dorothy Johnson


The fish truck was in town on Friday.  This year the vendor is parking across from the Foodmart and last Friday, he was there for several hours.  He plans to come back on January 31st if he can get the fish to make it worthwhile.  Friday he carried smoked pollock, fresh haddock and scallops. As far as I am concerned, there is nothing as good as fresh fish.

The fresh fish and vendor’s visit reminded me of the old days.  On the farm we would usually be visited once a week when the fish available.  One of the guys came from Eastport and made a day of peddling fish.  He would carry fresh pollock and salted and dried pollock, fresh haddock, Finnin haddie (smoked haddock), clams, scallops, cod sometimes smoked herring or smoked mackerel.  

My mother and aunt would always buy fresh fish if they had money handy and we could usually scrape up enough for a meal or two.  They grew up on the Hersey Side in Pembroke and relied on the sea for many of their meals.  In fact, they lived close enough to the clam flats that my uncles had to dig clams for a meal or to sell (trade) for other kinds of food.

My mother and aunt did not always see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, but they both agreed that under no conditions would they buy cod fish.  I think they got this attitude from my grandmother, but truthfully, I think my grandmother was glad to have any fish to feed the family.  Anyway, my mother and aunt believed that cod fish had worms.  This piece of information should not turn any readers against cod if they have been eating it all their lives.  This was just a family legend.

My younger cousin Dennis Mains has told me repeatedly that all fish have worms and I should just get over it.  I keep my eyes peeled when I prepare fresh fish and I am still eating everything but cod.  That does not mean that I am not getting out my magnifying glass to check things out.

When I moved to Woodland, I did not get as much fresh fish, but one day a gentleman came to the Swamp (my house on Palm Street) and asked if I would like to buy some fish.  I was really happy to have fresh fish and told him I would buy a pollock.  I went out to his truck to pay him and when I saw that fish, I knew I had made a mistake.  First, I had all I could do to carry the fish in the house. That pollock filled my kitchen sink with its head hanging out on one end and its tail hanging out on the other end.

It was a whole fish except for its innards and it needed some manufacturing and I needed help just controlling that monster.  I called my friend Pauline Bires and she came to the Swamp to help me cut up the fish.  We had several pieces left after I got the head off.  I did not know how to fillet that thing so I had several good sized pieces of pollock with skin and bones.  The bones come out easily once the fish is cooked and the skin can be scraped off when it is cooked.  It is smart, though, to take the scales off the carcass  before the cooking begins. 

Mrs. Bires took some pieces home with her, I froze some and had fish for quite a while.  Mostly I ate the fish with salt, pepper and butter because I do not care for bones in my chowders.  I am glad to say that now the fish comes all filleted with not much skin on it.  It is already for chowder as soon as it is cut into pieces…and nothing tastes better than fresh fish chowder.  Fresh fish is also very healthy.  The following recipe for Baked Pollock has per serving 87% of daily value of protein, 2% of daily value of sugar and 0% carbohydrates.


4 to 6 pollock fillets

1/3 C. sour cream • 1/4 C. grated parmesan cheese

2 TBSP melted butter

Salt and pepper to taste



1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cover half sheet pan with foil and spray with non stick cooking spray.

3. Mix all ingredients except fish.

4. Spread mixture on one side of each filet.

5. Bake uncovered for 15 to 25 minutes (depending on the thickness of your fish) till fish is cooked.

6. Brown slightly with broiler if desired.