How to Cook Cod and Cod Recipes

This really simple cod fish curry is just one of the recipes featured on this page
This really simple cod fish curry is just one of the recipes featured on this page

The cod featured on this page are Atlantic cod, found throughout the cold waters of the North Atlantic and the North Sea. Cod have been popular eating fish for many centuries and their firm, white flesh is well suited to a wide variety of tasty recipes. There exists a problem, however, in that Atlantic cod are one of the most endangered species of fish in the sea in terms of their numbers now compared to even a generation ago and it is vital to choose wherever possible only cod from sustainable sources for your table.

This page is devoted for the most part to how to cook Atlantic cod in a number of different ways. There is an inherent responsibility, however, that it look also at the very real problems facing the species, what mankind is or is not doing to address the issues and how everyone can do their bit for fish sustainability, ensuring this delectable fish remain available for the enjoyment of future generations.

How to Fillet a Cod

Whole fresh codling
Whole fresh codling

In the vast majority of instances, you will buy your cod already filleted and skinned from your supermarket or fishmonger. If that is the case, you can simply scroll down past this bit and straight to the recipes. If you have caught the fish yourself, however - or perhaps been gifted it by a fisherman - the filleting and skinning is a task you may find yourself having to undertake and it's important to know how to do it properly if you're going to get the most out of the fish. Of equal importance to the knowledge is the requirement to use a proper filleting knife. You will not be able to fillet a fish properly with a standard kitchen or chef's knife as the blade won't have the required flexibility.

The codling featured below was rod and line caught in the North Sea.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A deep eliptical cut is made behind the codling's pectoral (head) finStarting to slice off the first filletThe end of the ribcage is exposedFirst codling fillet removedStarting to remove the second codling filletCodling ribcage is now fully exposedTwo fresh codling filletsTrimming the codling filletSkinning a codling filletSkinned codling fillet
A deep eliptical cut is made behind the codling's pectoral (head) fin
A deep eliptical cut is made behind the codling's pectoral (head) fin
Starting to slice off the first fillet
Starting to slice off the first fillet
The end of the ribcage is exposed
The end of the ribcage is exposed
First codling fillet removed
First codling fillet removed
Starting to remove the second codling fillet
Starting to remove the second codling fillet
Codling ribcage is now fully exposed
Codling ribcage is now fully exposed
Two fresh codling fillets
Two fresh codling fillets
Trimming the codling fillet
Trimming the codling fillet
Skinning a codling fillet
Skinning a codling fillet
Skinned codling fillet
Skinned codling fillet

The choice of whether to gut the cod prior to filleting it is entirely personal. Some people find it easier to fillet a fish intact as they believe it holds its shape better. Alternatively, there is much to be said for gutting a fish at sea as soon as it is caught, not just to save on mess in the home kitchen but to better preserve the fish in pristine condition. This codling had not been gutted before it was filleted.

  1. Lay the cod on its side on a chopping board. Make a deep cut behind the pectoral fin, following the shape of the head.
  2. Carefully make a cut the length of the fish, along the almost centre of the backbone but just the top side of the fins.
  3. Cutting in one direction only (head to tail) slit through the flesh until you feel the resistance of the ribcage, which runs approximately along the middle of each side of the cod for a quarter to a third of its length.
  4. Slice along the rib cage to its end then cut right through the fish, bringing the knife out just above the level of the anal fin.
  5. Cut all the way to the tail and remove the first fillet.
  6. Turn the fish over and remove the second fillet in exactly the same way.
  7. With a small fish like this one, any flesh over what was the belly flap is not worth keeping and cooking, it will be so thin - simply trim it off.
  8. Lay one trimmed fillet at a time skin side down on your chopping board, tail end facing your weaker hand.
  9. Pinch the fillet as close to the narrow tail end as you can and - cutting away from you - slide the knife through to the skin but do not pierce the skin. The idea now is to use a backwards and forwards motion at right angles to the length of the fillet to remove the skin. As you do so, pull the tail end of the skin in the opposite direction from the knife's motion.
  10. Carefully rinse each fillet in a bowl of cold water and pat dry with kitchen paper.

Cod, Chips and Peas with a Difference

Goujons of battered cod are served with mini potato wedges, peas and a garlic mayo dip
Goujons of battered cod are served with mini potato wedges, peas and a garlic mayo dip

Cod and chips (frequently served with mushy peas) is for many people the only way cod is ever prepared and eaten. If you want just a slight diversification from the norm, however, this may be the cod recipe for you. Essentially, it is battered cod and chips - it is simply prepared and served just that little bit differently. The battered goujons of cod and mini potato wedges are designed for dipping in the garlic mayo with a fork before they are eaten.

Cook Time

  • Prep time: 1 hour 30 min
  • Cook time: 40 min
  • Ready in: 2 hours 10 min
  • Yields: One portion

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp mayo
  • 1 tsp freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled and grated
  • 6 to 8 baby new potatoes, halved lengthways
  • 3 tbsp plain/all purpose flour
  • Salt
  • 8oz skinless and boneless cod fillet, cut in to 2" goujons
  • 2 tbsp frozen peas
  • Black pepper and malt vinegar

Instructions

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Garlic mayo ingredients are combinedNew potatoes are cut in half lengthwaysParboiled potato halves ready for fridgePotato halves are given first fryFresh cod loin filletCod loin fillet is cut in to goujonsMini potato wedges are added to a warm dish and a low ovenCod goujons are drained on kitchen paperPeas are seasoned in the draining colanderCod flesh in the goujons is succulent and pearly white
Garlic mayo ingredients are combined
Garlic mayo ingredients are combined
New potatoes are cut in half lengthways
New potatoes are cut in half lengthways
Parboiled potato halves ready for fridge
Parboiled potato halves ready for fridge
Potato halves are given first fry
Potato halves are given first fry
Fresh cod loin fillet
Fresh cod loin fillet
Cod loin fillet is cut in to goujons
Cod loin fillet is cut in to goujons
Mini potato wedges are added to a warm dish and a low oven
Mini potato wedges are added to a warm dish and a low oven
Cod goujons are drained on kitchen paper
Cod goujons are drained on kitchen paper
Peas are seasoned in the draining colander
Peas are seasoned in the draining colander
Cod flesh in the goujons is succulent and pearly white
Cod flesh in the goujons is succulent and pearly white
  1. It is a good idea to begin by preparing the garlic mayo and refrigerating it until it is required. This means the flavours have more time to infuse. Simply spoon the mayo in to a bowl, add the parsley and garlic and stir well. Cover with plastic wrap before putting the bowl in the fridge.
  2. Put the potato halves in to a pot with plenty of cold, salted water. Bring the water to a boil and reduce to a simmer for approximately fifteen minutes. It is important to keep an eye on the potatoes as you want to stop them cooking just when you see the skins starting to loosen. Drain through a colander, lay them in a single layer in a plastic dish and put them in the fridge for half an hour.
  3. Take the potato wedges from the fridge and deep fry in hot oil for three or four minutes until they only just start to turn golden. Drain on kitchen paper, return to the (dried) dish and refrigerate for a further half hour.
  4. Five minutes before the potato wedges are due to come out of the fridge, prepare the batter for the cod. Put the flour in a medium sized glass bowl with a generous pinch of salt. Very slowly, pour in cold water, whisking all the time with a fork, until the batter is the consistency of thick cream. Put this in to the fridge to rest for ten minutes.
  5. Put an oven proof dish in to your oven and the oven on at its lowest setting. This will be used to keep the potato wedges warm while the cod is cooked.
  6. Deep fry the potato wedges a second time until beautifully crisp and golden. This should take around three minutes. Drain on kitchen paper and transfer to the heated dish in the low oven. (Remember to use oven protecting gloves as the dish will still be hot, even at such a low temperature!)
  7. Working quickly but extremely carefully, dip the goujons of cod one at a time in the batter, hold them up for a second or two to let the excess drip of and gently put them in the hot oil. Fry for four to five minutes until the batter is beautifully crisp and golden. Lift from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
  8. While the cod is frying, put the frozen peas in to a pot of boiling water. Simmer for three minutes. Drain through a colander while the cod is draining on the kitchen paper. Seasoning the peas while they are in the colander with black pepper and malt vinegar is a great idea. A gentle shake of the colander disperses the seasoning perfectly.
  9. Spoon the mayo in to one ramekin and the peas in to another. Lay at opposite corners of a square serving plate. Arrange the goujons of cod outwards from a third corner and the potato wedges from the fourth. Salt and malt vinegar are the ideal final seasonings for the cod and potatoes.

Cod Fillet on Potato, Carrot and Parsnip Mash

A simply pan fried cod fillet served on a mash of potato, carrot and parsnip
A simply pan fried cod fillet served on a mash of potato, carrot and parsnip

Cook Time

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 25 min

Ready in: 40 min

Yields: Two servings

Ingredients

  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
  • 2 6oz cod tail fillets, skin on
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 2oz butter
  • 4 tbsp frozen peas
  • Roughly chopped parsley to garnish

Instructions

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Potatoes, carrots and parsnip for mashChopped vegetables for preparing mashFresh cod tail filletCod tail fillet is trimmed for fryingSkin side of cod is patted in seasoned flourCod fillet is laid in frying pan skin side downButter and seasoning are added to vegetables for mashingPotato, carrot and parsnip mashCod fillet is laid carefully on top of the mashSkin should peel easily from a perfectly cooked fillet of cod
Potatoes, carrots and parsnip for mash
Potatoes, carrots and parsnip for mash
Chopped vegetables for preparing mash
Chopped vegetables for preparing mash
Fresh cod tail fillet
Fresh cod tail fillet
Cod tail fillet is trimmed for frying
Cod tail fillet is trimmed for frying
Skin side of cod is patted in seasoned flour
Skin side of cod is patted in seasoned flour
Cod fillet is laid in frying pan skin side down
Cod fillet is laid in frying pan skin side down
Butter and seasoning are added to vegetables for mashing
Butter and seasoning are added to vegetables for mashing
Potato, carrot and parsnip mash
Potato, carrot and parsnip mash
Cod fillet is laid carefully on top of the mash
Cod fillet is laid carefully on top of the mash
Skin should peel easily from a perfectly cooked fillet of cod
Skin should peel easily from a perfectly cooked fillet of cod
  1. Put the prepared potatoes, carrots and parsnip in to a large pot of cold, slightly salted water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer for about twenty minutes or until softened.
  2. Trim any excess skin from the cod fillets. Pour some oil in to a frying pan and bring up to a medium heat.
  3. Scatter the flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper. Pat the cod fillets in the flour on their skin sides only, gently shake to remove any excess and lay them skin sides down in the frying pan.
  4. Drain the vegetables and return to the empty pot. Leave to steam for a few minutes while the cod fillets cook before mashing with butter and seasoning.
  5. Add the peas to a pot of simmering water for three minutes before draining.
  6. When you can see that the cod fillets are cooked almost all the way through, reduce the heat and turn them carefully on to their flesh sides for a further minute's frying.
  7. Spoon the mash on to serving plates and lay the peas alongside. Sit the cod fillets on top of the mash skin sides up - and garnish with the chopped parsley.

What is the Difference Between a Cod and a Codling?

Cod and codling are older/larger, younger/smaller versions of the same species
Cod and codling are older/larger, younger/smaller versions of the same species

Atlantic Cod or Codling

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 229g
Calories 189
Calories from Fat18
% Daily Value *
Fat 2 g3%
Saturated fat 0 g
Unsaturated fat 2 g
Carbohydrates 0 g
Sugar 0 g
Fiber 0 g
Protein 41 g82%
Cholesterol 99 mg33%
Sodium 125 mg5%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Confusion can occasionally arise when people hear a cod referred to as a codling. This may be especially true when the same conversation includes mention of ling cod, which although a member of the same wider genetic family, is an entirely different sub-species.

The simple answer is that a codling is a name used to refer to a young cod. The stage at which a codling will be referred to as a cod varies hugely and particularly by geographical location. In some areas, fishermen will say a codling becomes a cod when it reaches four or five pounds in weight; in other areas, fishermen will still refer to a ten pound fish as a codling. This relates more than anything else to the average size of fish caught in the local waters. If you are fishing for cod(ling) make sure only that you know the size limits which apply in your local waters and never keep undersized fish. If you are simply cooking cod or codling, the same recipes apply in all instances.

Spicy Cod Fish Cakes with Sweet Chilli Sauce

Spicy cod fish cakes are served with a simple leafy salad and a sweet chilli sauce dip
Spicy cod fish cakes are served with a simple leafy salad and a sweet chilli sauce dip

Cook Time

Prep time: 2 hours 30 min

Cook time: 45 min

Ready in: 3 hours 15 min

Yields: Two servings

  • ½ lb cod fillet, skin on
  • ¾ lb floury/starchy potatoes (gross weight), peeled and roughly chopped
  • Salt
  • 2oz butter
  • White pepper
  • ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 medium garlic clove, peeled and crushed or grated
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped coriander leaf/cilantro (plus extra to garnish)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 small eggs, beaten
  • 4 tbsp golden breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Two handfuls mixed salad leaves of choice, washed
  • 4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce or as required

Instructions

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Additional fish cake ingredients are added to the mashed potatoCarefully combining the fish cake ingredientsFish cake mixture is divided in to equal portionsFormed fish cakes are ready to be chilledFish cake crispy coating ingredientsCrispy coating ingredients ready for fish cakesSpicy cod fish cakes are ready for fryingShallow frying the fish cakesSimple fish cake accompanimentsFish cakes are plated and ready to be garnished for service
Additional fish cake ingredients are added to the mashed potato
Additional fish cake ingredients are added to the mashed potato
Carefully combining the fish cake ingredients
Carefully combining the fish cake ingredients
Fish cake mixture is divided in to equal portions
Fish cake mixture is divided in to equal portions
Formed fish cakes are ready to be chilled
Formed fish cakes are ready to be chilled
Fish cake crispy coating ingredients
Fish cake crispy coating ingredients
Crispy coating ingredients ready for fish cakes
Crispy coating ingredients ready for fish cakes
Spicy cod fish cakes are ready for frying
Spicy cod fish cakes are ready for frying
Shallow frying the fish cakes
Shallow frying the fish cakes
Simple fish cake accompaniments
Simple fish cake accompaniments
Fish cakes are plated and ready to be garnished for service
Fish cakes are plated and ready to be garnished for service
  1. Put the cod fillet in to a pot with enough cold water to ensure it is comfortably covered. Bring the water to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer for five minutes. Remove the cod fillet to a plate with a large slotted spoon, cover and leave to cool.
  2. The peeled potatoes should be chopped in to one inch to one and a half inch chunks. Add them to a separate pot of cold water with some salt, bring to a boil and simmer for twenty minutes.
  3. Drain the potatoes through a colander and return to the empty pot. Leave to steam for five minutes.
  4. While the potatoes are steaming, peel the skin from the cod and gently flake in to chunks, being careful as you do so to remove and discard any remaining bones.
  5. Add the butter to the potatoes and season with white pepper. Mash with a hand masher.
  6. Add the cod flakes, chilli flakes, garlic and chopped herb to the pot with the mash. Stir very carefully to combine with a spoon.
  7. Divide the mixture in to four equal portions. Flour your hands and roll each portion in to a ball before flattening carefully between your palms to a thickness of about three-quarters of an inch. Lay on a flour dusted plate and refrigerate for two hours.
  8. Beat the eggs in a dessert or soup plate and add the flour and breadcrumbs to two different, similar plates.
  9. Take the chilled fish cakes one at a time and pat them in the flour on both sides, gently shaking of any excess. Wash them well in the beaten eggs and pat them well to coat evenly in the breadcrumbs. Lay them in turn on a separate plate.
  10. Pour a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil in to a frying pan and bring up to a medium heat. Fry the fish cakes over a low to medium heat for five minutes each side.
  11. Wash the salad leaves thoroughly (even where the packet states they are washed and ready to eat) in a colander under running cold water. Pour the sweet chilli sauce in to two ramekins.
  12. Lay a handful of leaves and a ramekin of sauce on each of two serving plates. Add two fish cakes per plate and garnish with the remaining coriander/cilantro.

Sustainable Fish Recipes

The River Cottage Fish Book: The Definitive Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Fish and Shellfish (River Cottage Cookbook)
The River Cottage Fish Book: The Definitive Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Fish and Shellfish (River Cottage Cookbook)

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is not only a high profile campaigner for sustainable fishing, he has also devised a wide range of tasty recipes for preparing fish and seafood. In this book, you will find not only more than 130 fish recipes, you will find comprehensive instructions for catching and preparing a wide variety of sustainable fish species.

 

What Action is Being Taken on Atlantic Cod Sustainability?

The problems regarding stock levels of Atlantic cod and other species in the seas and oceans are widely known and recognised. One of the biggest problems of all, however, is the manner in which many of the power wielding politicians and beaurocrats have decided to tackle the issue.

Discard is in some ways a complex policy and has more ramifications than may immediately be apparent. It is in part, however, a policy which forces fishermen on trawlers to discard fish of a particular species caught in their nets when they have reached their designated quota for that type of fish. It means that countless thousands of tons of perfectly edible fish are returned dead to the sea. A few years ago, the British celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall launched a campaign called the Big Fish Fight to firstly draw attention to the wider issue and hopefully garner support for positive and effective action.

In the short video below, you will see Hugh aboard a Scottish trawler, talking to the fishermen who are about to discard a large quantity of fish. Hopefully, you will find this video a little bit upsetting - but even more so, outrageous...

Quick and Easy Cod Fish Curry with Naan Bread

Meaty chunks of cod in a rich but simple curry sauce, served with wedges of naan bread
Meaty chunks of cod in a rich but simple curry sauce, served with wedges of naan bread

Cook Time

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 25 min

Ready in: 40 min

Yields: Two servings

Ingredients

  • 8oz skinless cod fillet, chopped in to small bite sized pieces
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced or grated
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp balti curry paste
  • 1 14oz can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
  • Coriander leaf/cilantro to garnish, roughly chopped
  • 2 naan breads, heated and sliced

Instructions

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Basic balti curry sauce ingredientsOnions and garlic are softened in vegetable oilBalti curry paste is added to the softened onion and garlicChopped tomatoes are added to the curry pasteCod portions for curryCod is cut in to chunks for curryCod is added to balti curry sauceFresh coriander/cilantro for garnishing fish curryCod fish curry is served in a heated dishNaan bread slices are arranged around the cod fish curry
Basic balti curry sauce ingredients
Basic balti curry sauce ingredients
Onions and garlic are softened in vegetable oil
Onions and garlic are softened in vegetable oil
Balti curry paste is added to the softened onion and garlic
Balti curry paste is added to the softened onion and garlic
Chopped tomatoes are added to the curry paste
Chopped tomatoes are added to the curry paste
Cod portions for curry
Cod portions for curry
Cod is cut in to chunks for curry
Cod is cut in to chunks for curry
Cod is added to balti curry sauce
Cod is added to balti curry sauce
Fresh coriander/cilantro for garnishing fish curry
Fresh coriander/cilantro for garnishing fish curry
Cod fish curry is served in a heated dish
Cod fish curry is served in a heated dish
Naan bread slices are arranged around the cod fish curry
Naan bread slices are arranged around the cod fish curry
  1. Pour the vegetable oil in to a large pot and gently heat before adding the onion and garlic. Fry gently for two or three minutes to soften the onion, stirring with a wooden spoon.
  2. Spoon the curry paste in to the pot and fry for a further couple of minutes before adding the tomatoes and turning up the heat to achieve a moderate simmer for fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the cod pieces to the sauce and carefully and gently fold them through. Cook for five more minutes only while you prepare the naan breads.
  4. Ladle the curry in to serving dishes and garnish with the coriander/cilantro. Serve with the sliced naan breads.

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8 comments

Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Hi, Prasetio. Thank you very much for stopping by and the comment. I hope your mom likes something she finds here :) I hope you got something nice to satisfy your hunger.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 3 years ago from malang-indonesia

Wow...brother, you have a wonderful recipe here. I should share with my mom. I love your tips and I think all of us learning so much from you. Thanks for writing and share with us. Just looking at the pictures makes me hungry. Voted up!

Prasetio


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Hi, Torri Lynn. I love trying new foods that I've never had before so I hope you have a great experience if you try cod. Thanks for visiting and commenting.


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Hi Nell and thank you. I hope you managed to get something enjoyable to eat :) I also watch all the fishing programmes on TV as well as go fishing. Very entertaining.


torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 3 years ago

hi gordon, really nice hub that you have here. i've always heard of cod but i've never actually had it the same way that i feel about hummus actually but i finally had it and i loved it. due to me trying that i think i will try some of the cod recipes that you have included in your article. thank you so much for this hub. voted up and sharing.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

I know people always say they are hungry after reading, but trust me I am now starving! lol! one sandwich today, been out. this is great, I love all your recipes, I have been watching the sea fisherman programmes, my friend who comes from the shetlands has most of her family on the boats, so I may well be watching some of them! great hub, and voted up and shared, nell


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Thank you very much for the visit and comment, randomcreative. Cod is a beautiful eating fish; I just hope the sustainability issue can be resolved before it's too late.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

What a detailed overview of cod! This is a great resource. Thanks for all of the valuable information and wonderful recipes.

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