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European sailors were fishing for cod in the North Atlantic long before the first settlements in the United States. Cod’s firm white flesh is ideal for salting, and salt cod became a staple in both diet and trade for the new colonies of America. Today the family of cod fish are some of the most important and popular fish in the world.

Haddock, Pollock, Hake and Whiting are all part of the cod’s extended family. The most important of these is the Atlantic Cod, on which New England’s colonial fishing ports were based. Caught from Norway, Iceland, Canada and New England, the cod can grow to over 25 pounds, but most market fish are in the 8 to 10 pound range. Sold mostly as fresh skinless fillets, this mild fish can be used in a variety of ways, from pan sautéing to baking. A smoked version called Finnan Haddie is an superb dish, poached in milk.  Salt cod, mentioned before, is still an important  tradition in Southern European cultures.

Baked Cod with Piquant Vegetables

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • I medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup minced parsley
  • ¾ teaspoon each: oregano, basil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar bay leaf
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • I can plum tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1½ - 2 lbs cod fillets

Sauté first three ingredients until soft. Add next six (carrot to chicken broth) and simmer, covered until carrot is tender. Add tomatoes, capers and vinegar, cook uncovered until reduced, about 8 minutes.

Season cod fillets with salt and pepper. Place in baking pan and spoon sauce over fish. Bake in 400 oven 15 to 25 minutes until fish flakes when tested. Serve immediately. Serves four.

Spicy Cod Cakes

  • 1 pound cod fillets, chopped
  • ¼ cup soft bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Tabasco sauce (to taste)
  • ¼ cup chopped onion, ¼ cup chopped bell pepper, sautéed in 1 tablespoon butter till soft salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients and form 4 cod cakes. Brush pan with vegetable oil and sauté cakes 3-4 minutes each side. Serve with good tartar sauce. Serves two.

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