Ingredient of the Week: Cod
Cod is a popular, white, saltwater, fish found in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. They are found in the deeper, colder water and are from the same family as haddock and monkfish. Its ocean origin slightly alters the nutritional value, but either way it is a very good, low fat source of protein. It has a very mild, light taste with, if cooked correctly, very flaky flesh. It is readily available already boned, skinned and filleted, but you can also buy it whole and prepare it yourself. As cod is traditionally a large fish, the fillets we buy are already cut to size. Therefore there are two common types available. Standard cod fillets are longer, flatter and thinner. They often come with the skin still on, as they are more delicate and can fall apart easier. The loin is the thicker part of the fillet and generally has the skin already removed. Personally I prefer the loin as it is easier to work with. Handling fish that easily flakes and falls apart, if you aren’t careful, can be quite tricky if you can’t see what you are doing.
Other forms of cod that are available are smoked, salted and dried, to preserve the fish. In the past, cod was one of the most readily available fishes throughout the world and these methods of prolonging the shelf life were used to help transport it. Salted and dried cod are still popular delicacies in countries such as Norway, Portugal and Brazil. Personally I really enjoy smoked cod, in fact I probably prefer it to standard, but I’m not so sure about salted or dried. Thankfully we don’t need to rely on these methods as much in this day and age.
Why is it good for me?
Cod is an extremely good source of protein. A 140 gram fillet contains over 20 grams of protein, while also coming in at under 100 calories. This means it is very good for maintaining a healthy diet, building and repairing muscles and keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
Vitamins and minerals that cod are rich in include Vitamin B3 (Niacin), B6, (Pyridoxine) and B12 (Folate), which all play a vital role in the body’s metabolism of food to energy for muscles and keep hair and skin healthy and strong. Phosphorus and selenium are the two main minerals found in cod. They both help in DNA formation, while phosphorus also helps with building and maintaining strong bones, muscles and other bodily tissue and cells. It also plays a role in producing effective muscle contractions and reducing muscle pain following exercise, which makes it very important for athletes and regular exercisers. Selenium is an antioxidant that helps limit cell damage from free radicals caused by exposure to oxygen, thus can play a major role in the protection and prevention from the development of cancer causing cells.
How do I prepare it?
I prefer to cook with cod that has already been skinned. The skin is really not very pleasant to eat so is best to be removed before cooking if possible. I also feel along the flesh to check that there are no stray bones to be removed before slicing to size if needed and/or cooking.
How do I cook it?
Cod can be baked, grilled, fried, poached, roasted or steamed. As a rough guide, allow an inch thick fillet to cook for 7 minutes. Be careful not to overcook cod as it easily dries out and becomes rubbery. The ideal is that when you touch it, the flesh flakes, so handle it with care. Personally I find cod a little bland to taste on its own, but it takes on other flavours really well.
Looking for some recipe inspiration for cod? Then this oriental steamed cod and vegetables is a very quick, tasty and nutritious meal, or this hoisin cod with crispy noodle omelette. How about trying it in this lemon and coriander cod with carrot and cauliflower pilaf, or possibly my favourite, in this quick fish curry. If you need more inspiration then try swapping the smoked coley for smoked cod in this rice salad or the hake for cod in this Mediterranean fish pasta.
Cod is one of the most commonly consumed fish in England and is typically what you get battered from a chip shop. Other popular accompaniments to cod include in a parsley sauce and served with lemon. However you like to enjoy your cod, it is important to always ensure that it has been sustainably caught from a line or farm and not a net, as this both damages the fish’s flesh and the ocean environment. Please share any favourite cod recipes in the comments below and let me know how you get on if you try any of my recipes.
Thank you for reading and speak soon.