“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

Saturday, January 22, 2011

In The Name Of Cod

That was the answer to my last Name This Food! poser - Cod. Let's find out a little more about our fishy friends, shall we?

Here's what Wikipedia, the fount of all human knowledge, has to say:

"Cod is the common name for genus Gadus, belonging to the family Gadidae, and is also used in the common name for various other fishes. Cod is a popular food with a mild flavor, low fat content and a dense, flaky white flesh. Cod livers are processed to make cod liver oil, an important source of vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). The North-East Arctic cod which is traditionally fished when approaching the coast during spawning are sometimes called skrei. Young Atlantic cod or haddock prepared in strips for cooking is called scrod.
The Atlantic cod, which can change color at certain water depths, has two distinct color phases: gray-green and reddish brown. Its average mass is 5–12 kilograms (11–26 lb), but specimens weighing up to 100 kilograms (220 lb) have been recorded. Cod feed on molluscs, crabs, starfish, worms, squid, and small fish. Some migrate to warm water in winter to spawn. A large female lays up to five million eggs in mid ocean, a very small number of which survive. Pacific or saltwater cod are also found around the coast of British Columbia, Canada and the Northwestern US coastal areas. These fish are three times the size of their eastern counterparts and are darker in color.
Cod meat is moist and flaky when cooked and is white in color. In the United Kingdom, Atlantic cod is one of the most common ingredients in fish and chips, along with haddock and plaice. It is also frequently consumed in Portugal and Spain.
Cod are currently at risk from overfishing in the UK, Canada and most other Atlantic countries."

Apparently there is a lot of cod out there that isn't actually true cod. Among them are some members of the Gadidae family, including Ling Cod, Polar Cod and Rock Cod, but others are completely unrelated, such as Blue Cod, Mary River Cod, and Black Cod. To further confuse the issue, severely shrunken Atlantic cod stocks have led to the marketing of cod replacements using names of the form "x cod", purely because they taste similar rather than having any genetic relation. Even some fish such as whiting and haddock, both members of the family Gadidae, have been marketed as Cod.

The cod has been placed on a number of Endangered Species lists by respected authorities such as the WWF and Greenpeace. For this reason I feel it is only right that I do not give you a recipe with this posting. Chances are, when you get your Cod & chips from the chip shop, you're not eating true Atlantic Cod anyway, but any one of a number of other, not dissimilar, fish. Cod have a hard enough time of things, what with overfishing and a nasty little parasite called the cod worm.This animal starts life as a small free swimming larva that is undoubtedly a crustacean. Its first host is the lumpsucker which it captures with grasping hooks at the front of its body. It penetrates the lumpsucker with a thin filament that it uses to suck blood. Cod worms mate on the lumpsucker and the female takes her fertilized eggs to a cod and clinging to its gills, metamorphoses into something that looks scarcely animal. Her crustacean features give way to a plump, s-shaped, worm-like body. Nestled against the rear of her body is a coiled mass of egg strings. The front part of her body penetrates the body of the fish and enters the rear bulb of the host's heart. Firmly rooted in the cod's circulatory system, the front part of the female parasite grows like the branches of a tree, reaching down into the main artery. The worm extracts nutrients from the cod's blood and remains there, safely tucked beneath the cod's gill cover, eventually releasing her offspring into the water. Eww, nasty.

So folks, what started out as a little fun contest every once in a while has gotten all serious. The next food in our lineup is going to be something organic and not on anyone's endangered list.

Name This Food!

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