Cod is a pretty interesting fish, and it’s far more common in American meals than you may realize. If you’re thinking “what is codfish, anyway?” we’re here to help.
Yet, believe it or not, codfish are much more common than you may realize.
In fact, codfish is one of the most popular saltwater fish in the market, and their famed white meat is often used in a wide range of dishes, from main courses to snacks.
For sure, you may have unknowingly eaten a meal with cod in it.
However, codfish have their positives and negatives.
Knowing these are important when you buy codfish meat for your planned dinner course.
What is codfish?
What do you need to know about these saltwater fish?
What are the various kinds of codfish out there?
And what are some popular codfish dishes that you could try out for yourself?
Let’s get started.
Codfish are saltwater groundfish that is abundant in ocean waters, particularly in the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean, reaching the territories of the United States and several northern European countries.
However, cod do not refer to only one specific kind of fish, but rather a wide array of fish belonging to three specific kinds of codfish, including the Atlantic cod, Pacific cod, and Greenland cod.
These fish are popular in the culinary world for their white, flaky meat, mild, milky flavor, and are also known as one of the most known fish to be used in many famed dishes such as fried cod, baked lemon garlic cod, and fish florentine.
What kind of fish is cod?
Codfish does not refer to a specific kind of fish but rather a genus of fishes known as Gadus, which, in turn, belongs to the Gadidae family.
Distinctions are made between fish categorized as true cod and other species of fish that are also known as cod but are not part of the Gadus genus.
In this case, only the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus), and Greenland Cod (Gadus ogac) are considered true cod.
Meanwhile, the Alaskan Pollock (Gadus chalcogrammus), while bearing the Gadus classification, is not associated with true cod.
On the other hand, fish that have cod in their names, such as the black cod (Noplopoma fimbria), Lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus), trout cod (Maccullochella macquariensis), and Antarctic cod (Dissostichus mawsoni) are not considered as true cod.
The same can be said of some ray-finned fishes belonging to the order Perciformes, such as coral and reef cod.
What does codfish look like?
Codfish are often medium to large fishes with three dorsal fins and a pair of anal, pectoral, and pelvic fins.
These species have a spindle-shaped body and a somewhat pointed and wavy beard located on the lower jaw, which codfish use to look for food.
They also vary in size and colorful appearance, which depends on the nature of the specific kind of codfish and their habitat.
Regardless of species, codfish are famous in the culinary world due to the color of their raw flesh, which is typically white throughout.
Depending on the species, their meat has varying textures and colors, particularly after being cooked.
However, some dark spots would appear due to the presence of brown muscle, which is actually typical in all fishes, including codfish.
What does cod taste like?
Codfish meat is highly sought after in many dishes for a good reason.
For one, their meat is white and tender and is perfect for many dishes just by their appearance and texture.
Yet, their meat generally does not have a strong taste.
Instead, it is relatively mild and milky, with a touch of sweetness.
This is especially true with Atlantic cod, with their meat being a bit sweeter than Pacific cod.
If you look into the varieties of cod in the market, you’ll find various articles that mention several species that are said to be classified as codfish.
However, not every colloquially known codfish in the market are actual cod.
In fact, among the many species of these fish in these lists, only three of them are actually classified as cod, given their classification as part of the genus known as Gadus.
To distinguish them from other species that are only called cod by name, these species are even referred to as “true cod.”
Listed below are some fish that are classified as “true cod.”
1. Atlantic Cod
Also known as common cod, Atlantic cod can be caught inshore or on offshore waters.
Inshore Atlantic cod is much smaller than offshore ones, with the former only about 27 to 34 inches long and the latter at 40 to 42 inches long.
The former only weigh 6 to 12 pounds, which is much lighter than the latter, which weighs around 25 pounds.
In terms of their appearance, the scales of Atlantic cod can vary depending on their habitat.
However, the practice of overfishing Atlantic cod has led to a significant reduction in their population over time, which is why it has been classified as “vulnerable” since 1996.
2. Pacific Cod
While most anglers and chefs refer to the Atlantic cod as the most common cod species, the Pacific cod is also a famed cod abundant in some areas of the Pacific Ocean.
These brown to gray-colored fish with spotted scales are about the same size and weight as the Atlantic cod.
These species measure about 44 inches long and weigh around 50 pounds.
3. Greenland Cod
A lesser-known but still highly regarded species of codfish, the Greenland cod is commonly associated, if not known to be related, to the Pacific cod.
However, these cod variants are often seen from the Northwest Atlantic Ocean to the colder Arctic Ocean floors.
Cod vs Tilapia
Codfish and Tilapia are often confused by consumers, mainly because both of these are white meat fishes.
However, how can we differentiate these two fishes and their meats, and which of these is more suitable for consumers?
Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), also known as Nile perch and freshwater snapper, is a freshwater fish also famous for its white meat.
However, their species are pretty different from cod.
For one, they do not belong to the same classification, with codfish belonging to the genus Gadus and the Gadidae family, while the Tilapia belongs to the Cichlidae family.
In terms of their meat, codfish have tough and chunky flesh, which is a plus for those who do not prefer fish meat that is easily separated apart, which is the case for the Tilapia.
Yet, one can argue that you can even substitute Tilapia for cod meat and vice versa.
After all, these white meats offer the same benefits and can be both harmful if you consume way too many of them due to their mercury content.
Ways to cook cod
Codfish is valuable in many dishes that you could think of due to their white meat.
However, cooking cod meat is not that hard, although it is highly recommended to only use this for deep-frying, steaming, broiling, sauteing, and baking.
This is because while codfish is known to have firm flesh, these can still fall off if not properly handled, which can cause problems in your dish.
Another thing to mention is that cod meat has a mild taste, which may not be for some people.
Indeed, the recommended practice for cooking cod is to add juices and spices to add flavor.
You can either sprinkle some salt on its flesh, add citrus juices like lemons, or marinate it with your preferred mix to retain its freshness while bringing more flavor into the meat.
If you’re having difficulty thinking of some dishes using cod, here are some dishes that you could try!
1. Baked Cod
This classic cod recipe retains the lean, flaky cod fillet but adds a particular kick to the otherwise mildly-flavored meat with the citrus flavors of Lemon and the spice of Garlic.
Create this baked cod dish and unlock the best sides for it to achieve that hearty and unforgettable meal.
2. Fish & Chips
Fish and Chips are a classic British snack, with deep-fried cod meat battered in pancake mix and beer as the main attraction and sliced potato chips on the side.
This pepper and salsa cod meal combines baked cod fillet with tomato salsa sauce and sliced peppers that balance the tenderness of the meat and the sweet-tangy flavor of the sauce!
Want to put an Asian twist on your favorite cod meat?
This dish will satisfy your palate as the crunchy cod tempura will be placed on top of rice, with vegetable salad on the side!
Tips on storing cod
In terms of storage, codfish meat is commonly salted for preservation.
In fact, salted cod has been well-documented as a preservation method in European countries.
If you wish to store cod meat for future dishes, you might want to consider the classic salting and drying method for codfish.
Otherwise, you could also refrigerate your cold meat for a couple of days to retain its best quality.
You could also wrap raw or cooked cod meat in aluminum foil, plastic wraps, and similar wrappers before putting it in a freezer bag and storing it inside your freezer.
If stored properly, codfish can last for days to months, but always ensure that it is kept in proper storage and appropriate temperatures to prevent the spoilage of your cod meat.
The bottom line
Codfish is highly treasured by anglers, chefs, and consumers alike due to its lean, white meat that is perfect for many dishes – main courses, appetizers, and snacks alike.
Yet, not all codfish by name is actual cod.
Thus, it would be best to remember some species of “true cod” the next time you’re planning to buy one in the supermarket.
Nonetheless, codfish is perfect for many dishes, and is definitely a mouth-watering pleaser once you take a bite out of these yummy fish!