I once ate a piece of cod at Aherne’s Seafood Restaurant in Yougahl that redefined my understanding of the species. It must have been a mighty fish because I was faced with a piece about 10cm square, a gleaming, pearly white brick of cod. It had a fabulous luminous sweetness, both to look at and to eat, a dancing freshness and firm muscularity. It was easy to understand why cod was, and still is, the country’s favourite fish.
There is a lot of nonsense talked about cod, about it being threatened and all. I’m not saying that it hasn’t all but disappeared from certain areas, such as the North Sea and the Grand Banks, but there is still a great deal of cod to be had off Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands because they look after their stocks properly. It also suggests that cod may moved northwards in search of more plentiful food, which is what fish tend to do, thus providing space for other fish to flourish.
There has been an explosion of lobster stocks around Scotland, for example, because the cod aren’t there to feed off the baby lobsters when they hatch out. Incidentally, there are other curious developments riding on the back of global warming. The Eastern Mediterranean is being colonised by warm water fish making their way down the Suez Canal from the Red Sea, while traditional Mediterranean fish, such as anchovies are popping up along the south coast of Britain.
Even more important is how the cod are handled once they have been caught, and how soon they’re frozen or landed. The more respectful the handling, the better the end result. If you can’t get cod, use haddock.