LEGEND HAS IT that early American settlers, during their cross-Atlantic voyage to their new homeland, gazed upon waters so rich with cod that “one could almost walk across the surface.” Such rumors of rich stocks are what probably lured many of them across the big pond in the first place. Plymouth Rock, after all, is near Cape Cod, Mass., which takes its name from quite possibly the most important fish in the history of mankind. Although this staple of the New England groundfish market is by no means that plentiful anymore, it remains a key species for fishermen, chefs and seafood lovers alike. Though it lacks an exotic name and a hefty price tag, the workmanlike qualities of cod and its versatility keeps it on many a menu.
Large steak-size cod (cabillaud, morue, bacalao) generally run 10 to 15 pounds, but they can swell to 40 pounds or more, and reach lengths of four to five feet. The largest cod on record measured six feet in length and a whopping 200 pounds. Sandy brown in color, cod often have greenish-brown spots on its hide, a pale lateral line, and a highly distinguishable single barbel under its chin, which it uses to search for food along the sea bottom. Cod are known to feed indiscriminately on smaller fish and crustaceans.
Although its reputation in years past as fine-dining fare suffered due to high supply and low prices, it is now more widely renowned in culinary circles. The white flesh of cod, which separates into large flakes, is quite excellent when poached, baked, steamed or fried. The best fish chowders are sure to have cod as a main ingredient. Salted cod, or bacalhau, is also very popular, but not the widespread practice that it once was.
We acquire Casco (Bay) Cod from our local fishing fleet, which proudly brings this fish to auction at the Portland or Gloucester Fish Exchange every day.
- New England
- Gulf of Maine
Seasonality: Year Round
- Line (preferred)
- Gill Net
- Otter Trawl
Yield (Fillet Percentage): 50%
Flavor Profile: Mild, sweet, clean
Texture Profile: Large, tender flakes