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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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rockling a name applied to several species of fish of the cod family, Gadidae, but in particular to the three-bearded rockling, Gaidropsarus vulgaris. This fish has a maximum length of just over 50 cm (20") and a relatively long body, the upper part of which is of a red or reddish colour, marked with brown blotches. The three ‘beards’ are not beards but barbels, used for groping around for food.

This rockling has a range in the E. Atlantic from Norway down to Portugal, and is present in the western basin of the Mediterranean. The smaller G. mediterraneus is another ‘three-bearded’ rockling with a similar range. But there are yet others with four or five barbels. None has commercial importance, but they have delicate flesh and G. vulgaris in particular is worth eating if obtainable and if really fresh.