Cod is well suited for modern man’s consumption. The lean flesh is rich in proteins and has a low fat content. In the old times it was praised because it can easily be preserved as dried or salted. Cod was probably a favorite dish ever since people inhabited northern Europe and learned to fish. Cod remains have been found among other food trash in a stone-age settlement on Gotland Island in the Baltic. The settlement was dated to 3000 years BC.
It’s no wonder then that Atlantic Cod, specifically those cod populations from North American waters have been drastically overfished and it’s estimated we are now consuming the last 10% of this cod population. Some Canadian cod stocks are so low as to be listed as endangered or threatened. Strict measured have been implemented on both sides of the Atlantic to curtail the decline of the cod populations, but some experts speculate it’s too little too late.
Pacific Cod on the other had is a healthy sustainable fishery. Hook-and line, or trap caught Pacific cod from the U.S. Bering Sea and Aleutian Island areas are considered the consumers most responsible choice.
Man cannot live of cod alone I say. While Lake Whitefish might be a favorite snack of those residing in upper Michigan, it’s mostly a regional delicacy, if you will. Mackerel is a very powerfully flavored fish that doesn’t translate well to the current American’s palette. Both of these fish are perfect in certain instances, but lack broad appeal as the poll shows.
Farmed Sturgeon on the other hand is my personal favorite. While it may be difficult to find at the neighborhood grocery store it is almost always available from my purveyors. The blight of Caspian Sturgeon and the near universal ban on Caspian Caviar makes most people cringe when they hear, “sturgeon.” Fortunately fish farms in California have done an exceptional job creating an eco-responsible product.
For those who have not had sturgeon I greatly encourage you to as soon as possible. The flavor is mild yet satisfying. The texture is rather dense similar to swordfish, but less likely to dry out. I’ve likened a thick hunk of sturgeon to a veal chop. One of my favorite dishes all time is seared sturgeon over truffled black lentils, creamy leeks, and caramelized cippollini onions. I had a dish similar to this at Lola way back when it was in Tremont, and enjoyed it so much that I’ve resurrected it a few times as a special.