Mild and flaky, battered cod is a favorite for the traditional Friday night fish fry.
This common saltwater fish comes from the Pacific and North Atlantic oceans. White and flaky firm, it's categorized as lean, meaning it has a fat content less than 2½% (the fat is concentrated in the liver). A mild flavor makes cod a popular and versatile choice, as it offers delicious results whether baked, broiled, poached, braised or fried. Manufacturers often use it to make processed products like fish sticks and fish cakes.

Varieties and Buying Tips

Cod can range in size from 1½ to 100 pounds. The fish is available year-round and comes whole (excellent for stuffing and baking), and in large pieces or fillets (fresh or frozen). Cod cheeks and tongues are considered a delicacy, as are scrod, young cod weighing less than 2½ pounds.

Cod can also be preserved by smoking, salting or drying. Salt cod is an important staple in many tropical and European countries such as Italy (baccalà) and France, where it's used in a popular dish called brandade.

Tasty Tidbits

Codfish is a favorite and typical dish in many parts of Portugal. There is a very well-known street near Lisbon called Rua do Arsenal, but it's often referred to as "Rua dos Bacalhaus" (Codfish Street) for its numerous fish stores (as well as the distinct smell in the air). It's said that the Portuguese have 365 ways of preparing dried salt cod, one for each day of the year.

Usage Tips

The moist, white meat of cod is quite easy to prepare and the mild flavor lends itself to a wide variety of recipes. It can be simply boiled and served with melted butter, simmered in chowders or stews, or even used as a filling for cannelloni, pot pies and tacos. It also tastes great with just about any sauce imaginable, from tartar and tomato to miso and curry.

Salt cod must be soaked in water to remove the salt before cooking. To do this, fill a large container with cold water and soak the fish for two to three days, changing the water several times each day. Some salt cod products are pre-soaked and will be labeled as such.

Substitution Tips

Haddock, pollock and hake, all close relatives of cod, make good substitutes.

Try one of our favorite cod recipes:

Parmesan Baked Cod
Italian Corn Crusted Baked Fish
Rubios Fish Tacos