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Poached Cod? Really?

I grew up at the very end of the cod-liver-oil era, in fact it was administered by grandparents not parents. I didn't learn to eat any fish till I was in my 20's (except canned tuna, which somehow I never thought of as fish). Probably because of the cod liver oil thing I can't imagine eating Cod voluntarily. I do like Ahi and Ono, and even occasionally Mahi Mahi. I will eat sea bass if necessary, but I don't think much of it. Looking at the picture of poached cod <http://www.chow.com/recipes/11300> just didn't do much for me either. Am I missing something wonderful?

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  1. I like cod because it's so versatile -- it'll take on whatever flavors you dress it with.

    It has a very mild flavor, and is very much like chicken in that respect.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Exactly, fresh it is one of the least fishy fishes. It is nothing like cod liver oil just as a steak would be different from beef liver ... chicken from chicken livers.

      It actually is made from cod livers

      I wonder why cod livers are better than other fish livers.

      When I saw the title my reaction was similar to the comments under the recipe ... it might be too bland.

    2. that particular recipe and photo are bland, boring, and wholly uninspired...which is really too bad, because when done right, cod can be wonderful. it has a mild, delicate flavor, flaky texture...it's great in baked or broiled preparations, and ideal when battered & fried for fish & chips.

      1. Cod is one of my favorite fish, but I like it in shall we say stronger preparations, especially of the Spanish/Catalan variety - casseroles of either fresh or refreshed salt cod with potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, onion and black olives with smoked paprika and saffron in the broth. I also like to let it sit in garlicky oil with a bit of lemon for an hour or two, then pan-roast it so it's a little crunchy around the edges but only just done in the middle - that's an idea I got from a Japanese restaurant's window sign! Never went to the restaurant, but I thought, "Damn, that sounds good!" and went home and tried it.

        1. The short answer is, yes, you are missing something wonderful. I love brandade de morue, roasted cod, cod in the sort of casserole that Will Owen describes, poached cod in a court bouillon.... I could go on, but I think that you get the drift: find a good recipe and begin experimenting. The only real problem with cod, delicious though it is, is its environmental sustainability. Nothing is quite the same as cod, for the flavour and texture, but, depending on the method of preparation, hake, pollard, haddock, turbot can be substituted, and, I believe, are not under the same severe pressure.

          1. Arguably one of the best species for Fish & Chips.... please tell me you like Fish & Chips... do it for the queen... you have to let them have at least one decent contribution to the culinary world, no?

            8 Replies
            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              Oh, Nopal.... boo hiss. There's a lot of excellent English food, and some rather articulate defences of it to be found on the various threads addressing it here. That hoary canard gets my goat. (I tried to fit in a third beast, but couldn't.)

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                well, i dont know of much that isn't good battered and fried, and I do love chips (french fries), but - gasp - I've never had fish and chips. I guess I will have to change that. Nico's (a great fish place here) has fish and chips, but I doubt they use cod, and I haven't noticed any of that vinegar that seems to be so popular when I see fish and chips on TV. I'll have to check it out.

                1. re: KaimukiMan

                  Cod is the most commonly used fish for that application (so much that its basically been fished towards extinction)... other good ones include Halibut, and Corvina. No vinegar? Damn mid western tourists! (Am I on a roll or what?)

                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                    I'm always surprised at the responses I've gotten in the US when I've asked for vinegar. If you want to be really authentic, it's brown malt vinegar. Good luck with that.

                    1. re: hungry_pangolin

                      When I was but a tyke, we lived in a shabby old house whose sole downstairs heat source was two coal grates, around which we would huddle like campers on an Arctic plain. Every so often a gas pocket would flare off, and if you were sitting just right you'd get a dose of searingly acrid coal gas up your nose, enough to cauterize your sinuses. This, to me, is what malt vinegar tastes like. I'll go with the tartar sauce if it's all the same with you.

                      I believe the now severely reduced H. Salt chain (my intro to F&C) still has malt vinegar available to its customers. I have no idea what the quality is (see above).

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        I guess its possible that you have a different taste receptor than the rest of us... but I am curious as to which Malt Vinegar brands you have tried. Not that you can't prefer Tartar Sauce... personally I think the condiments used in Baja Style Fish Tacos make for a far superior accompaniment to fried fish than either Malt Vinegar or Tartar sauce but that wouldn't preclude me from enjoying those preparations if I was in say England or New England, respectively.

                    2. re: KaimukiMan

                      If you've had battered mahi mahi and french fries, you've had fish & chips. Hide the mac salad, fake an English accent, and spritz on malt vinegar if you must. But anybody who uses cod in Hawai'i should be shot. It's all well and good for folks who live closer to the Grand Banks than Kewalo Basin, but you've got way too many tasty local options to even consider shipping bland fish halfway around the globe.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        Battered mahi mahi and fries was what I had for lunch just before we left Kauai last time. What a lovely memory to take home with me! That and the lilikoi pie...

                  2. just made breadcrumbed and fried cod goujons. My kids salivated as they walked in the door.

                    1. "In Cod We Trust".........coming from Newfoundland which until recent years had a huge and thriving cod fishery where cod is king(alas, we had the moratorium), i have to admit, i hated all fish when growing up and refused to eat the stuff. That being said, i think we got a lot of stewed fish and such when i was a kid. I sat at a late table to many cold plates of the stuff. It was cheaper and available when i was a kid, and now the prices have gone through the roof...making it even more revered. I remember massive cod fish, and now they're tiny and expensive....sad really.

                      When i went to college and lived with my sister, she reintroduced me to cod via cod au gratin...which i immediatly loved, and my horizons and needless to say, my cooking abilities, were broadened. Oddly enough,these days, as a primary vegetarian, seafood is now one of the few things i will eat, albeit not as a mostly treat basis. Cod is the only "real" fish for fish and chips in my region...however, it has to be fresh, and come from very cold waters or it can't be as great. I rarely if ever, eat fish and chips anywhere but nfld, and have seen people screw their noses up at it here, as opposed to haddock, because they are used to cod from non-icy waters....which can be unfit.

                      Try some salt cod dishes if that interests you at all..be it fish cakes of baccalao (sp?) type things. Portuguese recipes even...although there are lots of Newfoundland delights out there. I have a fishermans pie recipe here that has things like capers and slices of boiled egg and such...in amongst many many others.

                      poached any kind of fish really doesn't do it for me....and I LOVE cod now. A very fresh, pan fried cod...just can't be beat.

                      16 Replies
                      1. re: im_nomad

                        Not to mention the cool little pin worms found in truly fresh Cod. Quite an expereince the first time you see them squirming around.

                        1. re: TonyO

                          when the water is cold enough, you don't get the worms. I didn't want to say it, but now that you have, it's one of the differences between the quality of what i had back home, and what is found in the area i live in now. Mainlanders complain of poor quality, wormy fish. Our fish was gotten right off the boats...and i think i saw only ONE worm in my entire life, and it wasn't in fresh fish.

                          But hey, they're bottom feeders...animal based foods have those realities.

                        2. re: im_nomad

                          You know Mexican & Italian cuisine are such that your rarely try somthing and think... now what possessed someone to invent that dish? Christmas time salt cod dishes are the exception... I don't understand how two cuilinary traditions with such a mental clarity about deliciousness both embraced such oddly undelcious dishes.

                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                            necessity, i should think....the stuff keeps forever. I beg to differ though, that salt cod is "undelicious".

                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                              Salt cod was introduced along the Mediterranean coast by American ships back in slaving days as a trade good, and the Catalans, Provençals and Italians went nuts for it. Fish that could keep! Who knew? The Portuguese, who had access to cod themselves, had probably figured it out already. Even today there is an annual food celebration in Ventimiglia, on the French-Italian border, known as the Stockafissa Festival, "stockafissa" being the Italian pronunciation of "stockfish," which is the kind of salt cod that looks like odd-shaped slabs of grey cardboard. That is SERIOUS salt cod. I haven't tried cooking that yet; I'm just a bit intimidated...

                              1. re: Will Owen

                                Salt Cod is documented in New Spain's holiday feasts going back to the mid 1500's.... I think the mediterranean people knew about salt cod well before Jamestown even existed. My guess is that it goes back at least as far back as the 4th century (vis a vis the Roman conquests of Britania)... and I wouldn't be that surprised if the seafaring Iberian & North African peoples that first settled the Brittish Isles brought salt cod back to the mediterranean sometime after 2000 B.C.

                                1. re: Will Owen

                                  Is stockfish a cod?

                                  I learned about stockfish while exploring African markets. To say it is serious cod is an understatement. I opened the case keeping it at the back of a large store and cats from 10 miles away apppeared at the door ... I exaggerate ... slightly. It did perfume the entire store though. Actually stockfish is illegal to import current. Something about the way it is processed ... but as one store told me to my delight ... "if you really want some ... there are ways". Now that has gotta be one hard fish to smuggle into the country.

                                  Eat_Nopal ... as long as I'm here ... there are good and bad preparations of salt cod. The local Portuguese restaurants like La Salette and Grubstake do a good job. Can't remember if I tried it at Silva's.

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    When I dated a Portugese girl from the Central Valley I had the pleasure (or lack therof) of trying what was regarded to be a great, homemade version (at that time the Portugese people I met didn't think much about any of the Portugese restaurants in California).... it can be okay... but again I can't understand how cultures that don't typically embrace undelicious stuff (like say lye treated fish in Norway)... would embrace something that is pretty blah (I guess they all have one thing in common... Catholic nations... who embraced certain Florentine fishes during one of the Medici popeships... by Church decree).

                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                      To better understand the historical impact of cod whether dried or salted and dried, I’d suggest you read, “Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World" by Mark Kurlansky. It’s really a fascinating and well written book.

                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                        Dunno. I never tried salt cod until well into adulthood and to me, when done well, it is very tasty and when done badly ... horrid ... or at least bland.

                                        As everything, whether or not someone might have been forced to eat something at one time, people have a tendency to turn it eventually into something delicious.

                                        I mean seriously ... snails ... just a vehicle for butter and garlic. Who came up with the idea of eating a snail? I actually had some (intentionally) in a green salad that weren't given the butter/garlic treatment ... interesting taste.

                                        And so it goes with salt cod. It isn't the fish but how it is prepared.

                                        1. re: rworange

                                          Well you know the Japanese have come up with a method to sanitarily turn human defecation into edible sausage... human innovation is brilliant and I agree you CAAAN make something delicious from salt cod... just like well my previous example... and its not a delicious product to begin with.

                                          Personally I think salt iguana (which I believe had Zimmern gagging) is tastier than salt cod... i understand the beauty about making something so bad into something edible for necessity... but allow me to make two points...

                                          1) Its telling that Mexicans, Italians & Iberians largely relegated salt cod to "ritual" food status reserved for the holidays. If it was so tastey why not have it more often (and yes I know there is a Torteria in Coyoacan that serves salt cod on their regular menu... but that is the exception).

                                          2) We are no longer in the 1600's... why not honor the holiday traditions with something more delicious? At least among the Mexicans I know, bacalao is like the green bean casserole of the American thanksgiving... its usually there... and it usually ends up in the trash.

                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                            Re. #2 - I have to disagree: Especially, if you use escabeche, confit, enmieladas, mahachas as similar examples of a archaic food style that is not longer needed in the age of super preservation that have stood the test of time. You and I both know Eschabeches and confits are exquisite dishes that is just plain delicious regrdless of its origins.

                                            I have read Cod and loved it - as did all the people I have loaned it out to. Even my Sicilian grandfather still speaks about it years after I loaned it to him. And the stories of growing up and the process of soaking etc that he helped in.

                                            Re. #1 He also likes to tell me that the Portuguese have 365 different ways to prepare Cod - salted or not for each day of the year. So I do think it eaten more often than holidays. Its an ingrained part of their culture. In fact, I think there was even a discussion on the boards about the word of the Romance languages bacala, bacalao etc and the semantics of implying it as fresh or dried.

                                            I have to say that the potato and salt cod cazuela at Bar Cesar in Berkeley has to be one of my favorite dishes ever.
                                            Some say that there were Basque fisherman off the Canadian Coast well before Columbus was born.They were fishing for cod. Pretty amazing the lengths gone for this food source indeed!

                                            Its relationship to the Enslaved Africans of the Carib. is a whole other topic.

                                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                              You reaaalllly don't like salt cod, do you?

                                              Really, check out stockfish some day ... it will make you long for plain old salt cod.

                                              You may have a point since I don't see many vehemently disagreeing and declaring their love o' salt cod

                                              1. re: rworange

                                                I bought a can of salt cod once. When I opened it, my son and SO ran from the house. I cooked it anyway, in a sort of patty. It was perhaps the most foul thing I've ever put in my mouth. The house stank for hours. Even the cats turned up their noses at the leftovers. I'm willing to think that this was a bad way to eat it. But still.....

                                                1. re: Glencora

                                                  Good lord! The stuff they sell in Mexico is basically a side of fish / skin on fillet with some "ribs" still attached... stacked up in a glass case... exposure to the elements tempers the overpowering fishyness somewhat... I can only imagine (horrified) what it must small like canned!

                                      2. re: Will Owen

                                        "The production of salt cod dates back at least 500 years, to the time of the European discoveries of the Grand Banks off Newfoundland. It formed a vital item of international commerce between the New World and the Old, and formed one leg of the so-called triangular trade. Thus it spread around the Atlantic and became a traditional ingredient not only in Northern European cuisine, but also in Mediterranean, West African, Caribbean, and Brazilian cuisines. The ingredient and the dishes made from it are known under names related to these cultures, for example baccalà (Italian), bacalhau (Portuguese), bacalao (Spanish), bacallà (Catalan), morue (French), klippfisk/clipfish (Scandinavian), and saltfiskur (Icelandic)"

                                  2. There is a bigger issue, K-man. You live in Hawaii, surrounded by an ocean filled with fish; and you don't really like fish! My first real fishing was for tilapia in Kaneohe, my fist spear fishing was in Kaneohe Bay, and my fish eating has been life-long. You are missing something wonderful: all fish beyond ahi and ono.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                      No doubt true Fujisaka-san. I am not a fan of fresh water fish, so tilapia is iffy for me... besides i see them swimming in manoa stream and ala wai canal, it kinda puts me off. I do eat fish a few times a month, and yes, they are almost exclusively deep water. Ahi, Aku, Opah, Opakapaka, etc. I am not much for reef fish - but you hardly see that in the market anyhow. I love tako (squid) crab and lobster are ok, just so much work. Uni/Vanna (sea urchin) is too weird. I like most ogoe. I can not stand the taste of most bivalves, they have a strange bitterness that makes me very unhappy. I gladly eat sushi, sashimi, and most poke. I dunno, for a haole guy who grew up not eating anything that lived in the water, I think I'm doing ok.

                                    2. FYI: one probably shouldn't be eating Atlantic Cod--it's most likely not sustainable. Pacific Cod is probably okay, though.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: xanadude

                                        Pacific cod is a different species, different taste, and not often found salted. But it is sustainable. Atlantic cod has been making gains recently, and may become sustainable if the rogue ships (trawlers from Liberia or Panama) leave it alone.

                                        1. re: jayt90

                                          Good luck telling folks in New England they have to eat West Coast Cod.

                                          1. re: jayt90

                                            I amit that I am put off by the worms as well, so may now try a "Northern catch.

                                            There is yet a third Cod type called Ling. These are freshwater cod of Ontario and Quebec and possibly Northern states. I'm curious as to whether they're the same as Atlantic cod. Had they become landlocked in the past as did our stocks of landlocked Atlantic Salmon in northern Ontarion and Quebec lakes?

                                            I know people who catch them ice fishing in Lake Nippissing and say they are decent eating.

                                            Any knowledge on this?

                                            1. re: DockPotato

                                              There are also lingcod in the Pacific. They're definitely saltwater, and are pretty vicious predators. I've actually boated many of them when they latch on to smaller fish that have been hooked and refuse to let go, even when pulled out of the water. Ugly guys, but very tasty...


                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                Ling cod in the Great Lakes is not related to Atlantic or Pacific cod. (Those two species are related, but Atlantic is larger.)
                                                The fresh water ling cod is closely related to the burbot.
                                                The salt water ling cod or rock cod is a shore fish, unrelated to the Pacific cod.
                                                Sable or Black cod is a larger, deep water Pacific fish unrelated to Pacific cod, but a predator of cod.

                                        2. I'm with you on the cod liver oil and to this day can't stand pineapple juice, but I will spare you the details. Re poached cod, it's very mild and un-fishlike. My husband and I remember as the best fish dish we have ever eaten a meal (on Bearskin Neck in Rockport MA about 45 years ago) a baked dish with poached cod on the bottom, mashed potatoes on top of that, and a shrimpy cheese sauce on top of all, baked brown on top. BTW if you really hate the taste of fish but think you ought to eat some fish, try catfish filet . It has NO fishy taste, no bones, and no nasty scales. And you don't have to southern-fry it, either. Just give the fillets a spritz with PAM then roll generously in commercial bread crumbs (flavored or not as you wish). Lay these on a foil-covered cookie sheet . Heat oven very hot---425*--- before putting the fish in. Bake until the fish is done and the edges are crunchy. The fish is so sweet it's good with a tangy sauce, either sweet & sour pineapple a la Chinese, serve with rice, or a fresh salsa a la Puerto Rican, serve with black beans and rice.

                                          1. Just my ways of prep that might inspire you...

                                            Blacken and broil, then serve w/ lemon... simple and tasty if you like blackening seasoning.

                                            Poach in a broth of miso, garlic, chives, a little ginger, cilantro, and if you happen to make some, the leftover liquid from reconsitututing dried wild mushrooms. You can add lemongrass as well, but it's not my favorite flavor.