Gourmet Food Source
Cod is the largest of the Gadus family, which also includes Hake, Haddock, Pollack, Coley, Whiting and Ling. A round fish with grey scales, yellow and brown spots it can grow to a huge size (as much as forty kilos). A cold water fish of the North Atlantic it is now probably better known for its scarcity rather than its eating quality.
Cod and Peas
Levels of North Sea Cod have reached an all time low of some fifty thousand tonnes compared to over two hundred thousand tonnes in the seventies and a recorded high of seven million. There have been recent calls for an outright ban on catches from the North Sea, Western Scotland and the Irish Sea in a bid to stem the rapid decline. It is a desperate situation all rounds with communities dependent on maintaining their quotas to save their own livelihoods. This is not just a problem for the European fisheries, Cod used to be plentiful on the American side of the North Atlantic, Cape Cod took its name for it but over fishing virtually decimated the once huge stocks.
Once plentiful and cheap Cod was not held in particularly high esteem but through over fishing it now commands much higher prices and restaurant chefs have become more creative with the fish that most often found itself in the deep fat fryer.
Cod is extremely versatile in the kitchen, it adapts well to any number of cooking techniques and flavour combinations. Thick flakes of white flesh stand up to the fierce temperatures of deep-frying and are equally delicious simply steamed with Asian flavours or braised with wine and Provencal herbs. Local in-shore Cod provides us with the best and freshest fish whilst Deep-Sea Cod from Icelandic waters is usually frozen at sea.
No guide about Cod would be complete without mentioning the practice of salting Cod known as bacalao in Spanish and morue in French. Click on the link below for more information on salting your own fillets and other recipes, which can be adapted to the other members of the Cod family.
Recipes Salt Cod
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Content and picture © Miles Collins