Other Names: Scrod, large market steaker
Range & Habitat: Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, with a concentrated population in U.S. off coast of New England
Identification & Biology: Color varies, though the back is usually dun-colored with a greenish cast and brown mottling. Weight ranges from 1 1/2 lbs. to over 100 lbs.
Market Description: The classic, all-purpose white-meat fish, cod is lean, medium- to firm-textured, and delicately flavorful. Tender, thick fillets with large flakes that "gape" (separate) when cooked. Sold as skinless fillets (most common), steaks, whole fish (smaller specimens, up to about 10 lbs.), salted (referred to as salt cod), dried, smoked, pickled. Cheeks, tongues, and sounds (air bladders) are also eaten. Notes: Due to overfishing, cod is not as easy to come by (and not as inexpensive) as it once was. Cape Cod, Massachusetts, was named for this plentiful, ever-popular fish.
Habitat: Northern Pacific, Northern Atlantic
Flavor Profile: tender flesh, large flake, mild flavor
Fishing Technique: Bottom long line, hook & line, trawl
Special Note: Currently overfished missing in the Atlantic
Suitable Sub: Haddock
Buying tips: Fillets should be sweet-smelling with pure, glistening, snowy white flesh; make sure they are free of brown spots and signs of dryness. The thickest portion of the fillet--often called the "loin" or "captain's cut"--is considered the best.
Substitutes: Blackfish, carp, grouper, haddock, halibut, monkfish, red snapper, tilefish, turbot, weakfish, whiting, wolffish
Recommended Preparation: Remove any bones from fillets before cooking (cod fillets often contain a few small bones). Cod is excellent for poaching, broiling, baking, braising, and frying. A popular main ingredient in chowders, which are creamy and binding enough to support the big flakes of meat that fall apart when cooked. Whole cod are often stuffed and baked. Heads and bones make fine soup stock. To prepare salt cod, soak in cold water overnight or for up to 24 hours; change the water several times.