If you’re looking for a fish that you can experiment with in your smoker, then you can’t go wrong with cod. It’s tasty, nutritious, and one of the best fish you can prepare in a smoker. Today we’ll give you a comprehensive smoked cod guide and walk you through its history.
Cod is a popular fish that has been used as food as early as 800 AD. Atlantic cod and Pacific cod are the two most common types of fish. It’s used in cuisines worldwide and is a popular staple in the UK as used in fish and chips.
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History of Cod
Did you know that the Vikings established what was the first-ever cod market?
That should be enough to pique your interest. While there’s no record of when humans first started eating cod, it became a popular food item around 800 AD when the Norwegians would travel with dried cod.
Since then, cod has been an important part of the Norwegian fish trace, enduring over a century of change, wars, crises, and whatnot.
Portugal, which used to be one of the powerhouses of the New World, started participating in the cod trade, with the Basques following closely. Here, the east coast was primarily developed due to the ample supply of cod. Many cities in New England to this day are based near fishing grounds.
Cod has an important place in the history of Massachusetts, so much so that the House of Representatives of the state have the Sacred Cod of Massachusetts, a wood carving of a codfish in its chambers.
Around the 14th century, many cod fishing grounds began developing with the sole purpose of exporting the fish. As salted and dried cod began gaining popularity, North Norway became a major hub of all exports.
By the 18th century, cod had become a major commodity in New England despite the British trying everything in their power to make the trade unprofitable by imposing laws and sanctions. Instead, the patriots sided with the French, which led to an increase in trade and revenue.
Fast forward to the 20th century, and Iceland is back in the game as a powerhouse in the cod trade. To date, Iceland remains one of the major producers and exporters of cod. However, depleting stocks have become an issue in recent years.
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Smoked Cod – The Basics
While tuna is commonly referred to as the chicken of the sea, that label should belong to cod. Cod is light yet meaty fish that does have the oily, strong taste that’s synonymous with fish. Because of this, cod is an excellent fish to marinade as it absorbs all the juices and spices it gets in contact with.
There are two main types of cod – Atlantic cod and Pacific cod. There are not many differences between the two. Pacific cod has a higher moisture content, whereas Atlantic cod has slightly more calories per 100 grams. When cooked, both fish have a similar color, texture, and taste.
What does Smoked Cod look like?
Cod looks similar to a catfish with whiskers and barbel. It can be different shades of greenish-brown and gray. When cooked, smoked cod forms a golden color on the outside and is lean, flaky, and white on the inside.
What does Smoked Cod taste like?
I went to the fishery near my town and got 10 lbs of Atlantic cod. Note that in most fisheries, Atlantic and Pacific cod will be sold as just ‘cod’, so it doesn’t make much of a difference in which variety you are getting. To get things ‘smoking’, I took out my good old Weber Smokey Mountain Charcoal Smoker.
It tastes exactly how a chicken would taste if it was seafood. Because it’s a blank canvas for marination, you can add any mix of your choice and get a rich flavor in each bite. The flakiness allows you to add smoked cod to salads, tacos, pasta, and more. Safe to say, I’m a fan because of its versatility!
How much does Smoked Cod cost?
As cod has been part of the fish trade for over 1,000 years, it’s one of the most readily available fish in the market. Sure there have been shortages of stock now and then, but for the most part, it’s quite easy to purchase cod from just about any fishery.
As far the price is concerned, it varies drastically from state to state, but on average, cod is cheaper than salmon and other popular fish.
For instance, fresh cod in Alaska costs between $0.50 and $1 per pound, which is super cheap. In the contiguous United States, you can buy cod from $2 to $6, depending on the state you live in, the freshness of the fish, and brand.
How Do You Cook Smoked Cod?
The only fish I like to smoke are salmon and cod. I would give cod a little edge personally because I can experiment a lot with the marinade, and the result is always delightful.
For smoking cod, I would highly recommend that you get the fresh variety, not frozen. The flavor profile of fresh cod is much better, in my opinion, which results in a great smoking experience.
A good smoker like the Weber Smokey Mountain Charcoal smoker would be the first thing you will need to set up. If you don’t want to go with a charcoal smoker, Masterbuilt makes some of the best electric smokers out there that you should have a look at.
Once the smoker is ready, here is how I prepare smoked cod:
- Dry the cod using a paper towel and cut the cod fillet into thin steak-like pieces. These will be easier to marinade.
- Add a little salt to the fillets, then combine ginger paste, garlic sauce, soy sauce, and some paprika in a bowl.
- Thoroughly combine the mixture with the cod and allow it to rest for about 1 hour in the fridge.
- Set the smoker to 225°F and remove the fillets from the fridge.
- Lightly pat the fillets using a paper towel and place them in the smoker.
- Cook the fillets for 40 minutes to an hour or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F.
- Remove the cod from the smoker and serve with some greens. I like to break down the fillet into flakes and add them to tacos.
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Smoked Cod Alternatives
Smoked cod is one of the best fish out there, but if you’re not a fan or you want to try something else, there are alternatives out there such as:
This is perhaps the most popular fish in the world. Salmon can be cold or hot smoked with or without curing. You can also prepare smoked salmon in your smoker and enjoy a delicacy that’s full of proteins and healthy fats. My favorite is cold-smoked salmon, but I like to prepare it in my smoker now and then as well.
If you’re looking for more protein and want to have that classic fish taste, then go for the smoked haddock. While it can be cold smoked as well, you will have to cook it, unlike salmon. It’s a bit on the dry side but has a nice sweet and smoky flavor that you will appreciate.
Fish and chips
Perhaps you’re not looking to smoke cod but still want to enjoy it. If that’s the case, then go with the classic English fish and chips. There are many recipes out there to prepare fish and chips, but for my money, the simpler the recipe, the better the outcome!
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Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some common questions about smoked cod.
Question: Can You Cold Smoke Cod?
Answer: Yes, you can cold smoke cod. For that, you need to cure the cod first before smoking and preserving it. The reason for that is since cod has a relatively bland taste, curing it with salt will allow the cold-smoked cod to have a flavor profile. This will allow you to add it to cold salads and sandwiches with a taste you’ll appreciate.
Question: Why is Cod Expensive in My State?
Answer: Cod is a relatively cheap fish as compared to salmon. However, in some states where fish, in general, is expensive, cod will be expensive as well. Many factors, including access to cod fishing grounds, number of local fisheries, demand and supply of cod, and distance from the nearest supply, will all come into play.
Question: Is it Safe to Slow Cook Cod?
Answer: You may slow cook cod for around 2 to 3 hours at lower temperatures. Be mindful that the fish will become a little tough when cooked for too long. Setting the temperature to 150°F should allow you to slow cook the fish. Make sure to remove the cod from the smoker once the internal temperature reaches 145°F.
Question: Is Smoked Cod Healthy to Eat?
Answer: Yes, it’s a very healthy fish that’s also flavorful. While cod doesn’t have the same levels of omega-3 fatty acids as salmon, it is loaded with lean protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals which makes it a great addition to your healthy diet. In addition, cod also has less mercury which means you can have cod as a regular part of your diet!
Conclusion – Should You Try Smoked Cod?
Yes, you should try smoked cod as it’s one of the best fish out there to smoke. If you like getting creative with your food, this is one fish you will appreciate as it takes on the flavors to the maximum that you marinade with.
My suggestion would be to prepare it for your smoker and serve your friends and family who will be surprised by how good it tastes!
Cod is also one of the most versatile fish out there. The fish and chips that we love today were first invented in England using cod! In some cultures in South Asia, like India and Sri Lanka, cod is added to curry mixes and served with rice. It’s served as uramaki and crispy sushi in parts of Japan as well.
To conclude, give smoked cod a try, and you won’t be disappointed. There’s a reason why it’s been a staple in diets around the world for over 1000 years! If you want to check out more meats and fish varieties to prepare in your smoker, Meat n Marrow has all the resources you need to make good food at home!