Looking for healthy and affordable ways to spruce up your dinners? Cooking with cod is your answer! Delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare, cod is highly underrated. On the surface, cod doesn’t have the same appeal as its sexier cousins, tuna and salmon. However, this whitefish’s nutritional makeup can’t be beaten, and its appealing taste pairs exquisitely with a wide variety of flavors. Just to get your mouth watering, we’ve compiled a started list of our five favorite cod recipes. Test these out, and let us know what you think! Hopefully, these will be the spark that starts your love affair with cod.
Tips for Cooking with Cod
If you’re feeling intimidated to cook fish, you’re not alone! On one end, an overcooked fish can be tough and dry, and on the other, undercooked fish risks food poisoning or contracting a parasite. We don’t say that to scare you, though. Before we even get into the recipes, we’ll start you off with some basic cooking tips so your cod will melt in your mouth while melting your heart every time!
Curious about cod? Learn more about cod’s ecology, nutrition facts, and place on the dinner table.
Where to Get Cod?
Though cod are the namesake for Massachusetts iconic cape, the populations off the coast of New England have been critically overfished. If cooking with fresh or frozen cod, look for Pacific cod from Alaska or Atlantic cod from the Barents Sea or Iceland for a more sustainable option.
Canned Cod: Best of Quality & Sustainability
But even these options require energy-intensive refrigeration to ship them around the world. For many cod recipes, you can opt for replacing fresh fillets with tinned cod fillets. Select your cod from gourmet canneries pack their cod in high quality olive oil the same day they were caught. Brands like Briosa and Bela offer delectable cod fillets, and have the MSC certification that affirms the fish were sustainably caught.
Prep the Fillets: Pat & Season
If working with frozen or fresh cod, absorbing some of the excess water on them will help them cook more evenly and better absorb flavor. To do this wrap each fillet in a paper towel and give it a few pats. Once dry, season each side of the fillets with salt and pepper. This will help bring out the natural buttery flavors of the fish!
How to Tell Cod Is Cooked?
Test the thickest part of the fillet with a fork. You’re looking for the fish that easily flakes and has lost all its translucence. If you want to be extra scientific, use a thermometer! Fish is ready between 140-145°F. Timing is critical to cooking any fish to perfection. For all the recipes that start with raw fillets, make sure to have your timer ready! As we explain below in the recipe for fish sandwiches, the cook time will vary a bit depending on the thickness of the fillets.
Delicious Cod Recipe Ideas
As with any whitefish, the challenge with cooking fresh or frozen cod is packing it with delectable flavor without overcooking it. The following recipes achieve just that. From a basic pan-fried cod sandwich with a delectable homemade tartar sauce to fillets braised in a tasty tomato sauce, each of these recipes celebrates what cod has to offer.
When you’re in the mood for a classic fish sandwich, build it around this panfried cod. Using a flour based breading to hold the fillets together, the cod comes off the skillet with a crispy outside and tender inside. A zesty tartar sauce adapted from Bon Appetit and some fresh veggies round out the sandwich.
- 1 lb Cod fillets, patted dry and seasoned with salt and pepper
- Salt and black pepper
- ½ cup flour
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- Safflower oil (or other high heat, mild flavor oil) for frying
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- Zest of two lemons
- 2 TBSP lemon juice
- 2 TBSP sweet relish
- 1 TBSP capers, chopped
- 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
- Optional for serving: potato buns, cucumber slices, lettuce, and fresh dill.
- Mix flour, garlic powder, and smoked paprika together until combined
- Coat cod fillets evenly with the dry mixture.
- Heat a generous pour of oil (about ½ cup) in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Let heat up for about 4 minutes before starting to cook the fish.
- The thickness of the fillets will impact how long they should cook. For fillets about one half an inch thick, two and a half minutes per side will be perfect. A bit thicker? Three minutes should do it. If they are much thinner than a half inch, try just two minutes.
- Transfer to a plate with paper towels. Crispy outside, melt in mouth inside.
- Make the tartar sauce by mixing mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice, relish, capers, mustard, and garlic together. Season to taste with salt.
- Assemble sandwiches on potato buns with a spread of tartar sauce, thinly sliced cucumber, lettuce leaves, and a sprig of fresh dill.
Baking cod will almost always result in a moist, tender meal. This recipe keeps it simple with a bit of brightness from the lemon and spice from the cayenne. With minimal prep and cooking time, this recipe is a great choice for a busy weeknight.
- 1 lb cod fillets, patted dry and seasoned with salt and pepper
- 1 TBSP lemon juice
- ¼ tsp cayenne
- 1 ½ TBSP olive oil
- 1 TBSP flatleaf parsley, chopped
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Place cod fillets on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, and sprinkle with cayenne.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes. Serve immediately with a garnish of parsley.
Baccala mantecato served on polenta. Image by Benreis on Wikipedia Commons.
If you’ve ever wandered the streets of Venice, you’ve likely came across crostini di Baccala mantecato on the menu. Baccala specifically refers to salted cod, and requires a laborious process of rinsing and soaking to prep the fish. Here, we’ve adapted the classic Italian snack to be made with canned cod. The best part? The recipe uses both the cod and the olive oil from the tin!
- 2, 4.5 oz tins of canned cod
- Lemon wedges
- Flat leaf parsley, chopped
- Crusty baguette, sliced and toasted
- Add cod from fillets to a food processor. With the blades running, slowing drizzle in the olive oil from each tin until emulsified.
- Spread on baguette rounds with a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle of fresh parsley. Enjoy!
Warm and Cozy: Cod Braised in Tomato Sauce
Bathing in a rich tomato puree with Indian spices, this recipe, adapted from Bon Appetit, infuses the cod fillets with mouthwatering flavors.
- 2 lb. skinless cod, cut into 3" pieces, patted dry and seasoned with salt and pepper
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 TBSP garam masala
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 28-oz. can tomato purée
- 1 ¾ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- Heat 2 TBSP oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or heavy saucepan. Sauté onion and garlic until soft. Then add the cinnamon stick, garam masala, cumin seed, and several grinds of black pepper, and cook until fragrant.
- Pour in the tomato puree, salt, sugar, and ½ cup of water. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.
- Reduce heat back to medium, and carefully add the fish fillets. Let braise for 8-10 minutes until flakey but still firm. Remove from heat. Enjoy with some toasted slices of a hearty sourdough.
This recipe (adapted from the New York Times) feels like an indulgent summer afternoon, yet is so simple! While you can poach fresh fillets, starting with canned cod speeds up the process even more. The balance of fragrant vegetative flavors from the celery, onion, and garlic balance the smoky Old Bay seasoning beautifully.
- 2, 4.5 oz tins of canned cod
- 1 TBSP unsalted butter
- 1 celery rib, diced
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ TBSP mayonnaise
- 1 tsp mustard
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning (or use a mix of paprika and chili flakes)
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped roughly
- Neutral oil for frying
- Lemon wedges
- Add butter to a pan over medium high heat, allowing it to melt. Once foamy, add the celery, onions, and garlic, and sauté until the vegetables soften and onion becomes translucent.
- In a large bowl, mix the mayonnaise, mustard, egg, and seasonings. Stir in the sautéed veggies, then add the bread crumbs and parsley.
- Drain the cod from the olive oil (set the oil aside for a salad dressing!) and add to the bowl. With a fork, gently flake the fillets apart, keeping the flakes in tact (this will maintain a delectable texture in the cod cakes). Carefully mix together until just combined.
- With your hands, form the mixture into 4-6 balls then pat into patties. Place on a sheet pan, covered in plastic wrap. Set them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Add about a quarter cup of neutral frying oil to a large pan over medium high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the patties and fry for about four minutes on each side until they are golden brown. Enjoy warm with a squeeze of lemon or on a bed of arugula!