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Cod Offal

I didn’t know that cod had tongues. I didn’t even know they could speak. Kristin’s father told me about them being a delicacy a long time ago, and I had been anxious to try them ever since. Until last week, I only caught relatively small cod whose tongues were too small.

Cod Tongues

So when I pulled up a 19-lb cod with a head as big as Nora’s, my first thought was, I bet the tongue is huge. With the help of someone onboard who’s done it before, I sliced off the tongue before discarding the head. The cheeks also. When another slightly smaller cod came up, I performed the same operation. 2 tongues and 4 cheeks, about the size of big scallops.

Tongue and Cheek

People in Newfoundland — another historic cod fishing area — eat cod tongues too. They deep fry them and serve them with scruncheons, which are goblets of pork. Today I got around to making them for myself for lunch. (I don’t think anyone else in my family would touch them). I coated the tongues and cheeks with flour and fried them in hot butter, and made a lemon capper sauce using the same pan. They were delicious. Just delicious.

Cod tongue doesn’t have any muscles; it’s certainly not used to articulate speech. The tongue is a chunk of gelatinous flesh without a lot of flavor, so you really have to be into that kind of texture to like eating it. Chinese food is as much about texture as flavor, so you’d expect me to like this stuff. The cheek has a stringy texture similar to scallops but firmer. The two served together make a nice contrast in texture.

Cod collar is also very good; the bits of meat on it are even stringier and firmer than the cheek. Japanese are very fond of fish collar: they like to marinated it with miso and broil it. And cod skin. A month or two back, I made salt cod and afterwards, just for kicks, I cut the skin into squares and roasted them in the oven and made a pile of crunchy cod skin chips. Nora gobbled them down like candy as she chanted “fishie, fishie, yum, yum!”

Cod and Pollock Roe

When I gutted the big cod, I saved the roe. Two days ago, I poached one set of roe and then fried the slices in butter. Also delicious. In Norway and Sweden, cod roe, Kaviar, come in tubes like toothpaste. It is definitely an acquired taste, which Marcus certainly did acquire. He loves it squeezed over soft-boiled eggs for breakfast.

Not To Be Confused With Toothpaste

I heard a story of someone who mistakenly used a tube of Kaviar when brushing teeth… It surely must be an urban legend.

  1. Joe #

    I also heard a story of someone who put foot-cream in someone else’s toothpaste tube a few years back… Hmmm… . I wonder if the same person might try the same trick with “Kaviar”. Either one is a pretty shocking surprise on your toothbrush, I’m sure.

    January 13, 2012
    • Personally, I rather have Kaviar than foot cream.

      January 14, 2012
  2. Rosa #

    Never heard of fish tongues! (and we Spaniards eat everything in the fish, including eye-balls!). Hake cheeks are highly appreciated delicacies and I love them.
    Kristin and you left me a tube of kaviar when you moved to Boston and I gobbled it down with boiled eggs to cover my pregnancy craves for salt and protein. I know there are tons of fish, but I’m very impressed with you catches.

    January 13, 2012
    • Yeah, you people definitely like seafood. Barnacles? Who’d have thought.
      Hake is a great, under-appreciated fish. We could find them once in a while at Whole Foods in Boston. I always get it when I see it.

      January 14, 2012
  3. #

    Did you like it, Winston?

    January 13, 2012
    • Yes Albert. It was great!

      January 14, 2012
  4. Rob #

    Hey my man, did you mean to entitle this “Cod offal” or was that supposed to be “God Awful”?Seriously cousin, I’ve been following you here religiously and I’m happy to find another soul with the grit to try cod cheeks. I’ve had cod and halibut cheeks, the best cuts, imho. Thanks also for reintroducing the word “defenestration” a while back, and even giving me credit! That almost makes up for slandering the mighty codfish that I know and love so well. Now that you’ve eaten their tongues, perhaps you can find a little charity in your heart for the noble yet humble beasts.

    I hope you are enjoying your adventure still.
    Keep the faith,

    January 14, 2012
    • Hey Rob! I’m glad someone caught it. Yes, I did mean for it to sound like “God Awful.”
      Speaking of halibut, they have cunningly eluded my hook. They catch huge ones here just like in Alaska. Once I went to the Fish House to buy fish, and the guy there gave me a gigantic halibut head lying on the floor. I took it precisely for the cheek, which I smoked with Juniper. Yum!

      January 14, 2012

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