The Difference between Cod and Scrod

Cod is a fish sometimes over 60 pounds. As a boy during the early 1970s, I once nabbed a 45-pounder. As far as scrod, four years ago I caught a 6-pounder. Both were hauled in from the Atlantic Ocean. Nevertheless, my fishmonger told me that a scrod is a small cod in the four to eight pound range. This is quite light considering a grown codfish could tilt the scale at over 80 pounds.

Scrod evolved into a dinner fare during the 1980s because of the diminishing codfish population. All of those hefty codfish, for the most part, have disappeared from the Northeast Atlantic Ocean. Today if one manages to land a 40-pound codfish that would be an impressive catch.

Forty years ago, a 40-pound codfish would only have been considered a good catch. Any over 60-pounds was considered a great catch.

It’s still fuzzy, however, about whether a scrod is truly a cod. I have heard that a pollack could be called a scrod, or simply any fish in the codfish family. The seafood industry lobbied about 25 years ago for more lenient fish labeling laws and won. As a result, the seafood industry today has a greater leeway about how they name a fish in the market. If a fish is in the same genetic family as another fish, a fishmonger could label the fish as any in that fish’s family, so my fishmonger told me. So scrod in the supermarket could actually be pollack, since pollack is in the codfish family. As a result some say scrod is pollack.

The bottom line is because of the leniency of the seafood industry laws, if one were to buy scrod, there is no guarantee that it is a baby codfish, the only sure thing is the fish is tasty. Regardless if one buys cod, pollack, of scrod, the buyer will definitely receive a tasty piece of fish with white flesh. It just may not be codfish.

As far as cooking the fish, there is no real difference. Codfish pieces are usually fatter so it takes a couple of more minutes to cook the inside. Also codfish tends to be more flaky and tender than scrod. The taste difference is so subtle unless one serves it to a hardcore fisherman no one would ever know the difference.

A few years ago, I went to visit my aunt and took a short ride to codfish in the Atlantic Ocean. I was lucky and caught one, weighing about six pounds. Some said it was a cod, some said it was a scrod. Regardless, when I returned to my aunt’s house, I prepared the fish for supper.

First, I dredged the fillets in seasoned flour. Then I melted about two tablespoons of unsalted butter in the frying pan until the butter turned brown. Once it did, I put two fillets in the frying pan skin side up. After about four minutes, I flipped them over and cooked them on the other side for three minutes.

Once done, I removed them from the pan and added another tablespoon of butter. Once the butter melted, I added chopped tarragon and cooked it for one minute. When the butter turned brown, I squeezed a few drops of lemon into the sauce. In the end, it didn’t matter if it was scrod or cod, all that mattered was it tasted delicious.

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