Wednesday Sept. 14, 2011
There are so many things to enjoy when I go back home to Newfoundland. From spending time with family and friends, hiking along the rugged coast, and taking in live music in St. John's, and one of the things I look most forward to is getting out in boat to catch a few cod. As luck would have it this year, our vacation was well-timed with Newfoundland's recreational cod fishery. Thanks to my cousin Tony who has a boat and a love for being out on the water, Mom, my wife and myself had a morning out fishing in Trinity Bay. While the fishing was slow at first, and the skies threatened to rain much of the morning, we eventually found the fish and had no trouble getting our quota of 15 beautiful cod. I myself was extra lucky having pulled up the biggest catch of the day, a 17-pounder. While the sport of cod fishing is fun, that's not the main reason I do it and look forward to it, however. It's all about the fish!
There is nothing like eating fish "straight out of the water" as we like to say in Newfoundland. Eating fresh cod, that just a few hours before they hit your plate were swimming around at the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean, is a special treat. For many years all Newfoundlanders likely took that for granted, but since the moratorium on the Atlantic cod fishery, which was mandated by the federal government in 1993, we certainly cherish the opportunities to eat this wonderful fish these days. So, tradition in our house is to have a wicked big feed of pan-fried cod when I'm home for vacation. While the fish fillets get the star treatment for this meal, it's the appetizer of fried cod tongues that I look forward to most.
For those of you who do not know, cod tongues are not actually tongues, but a small muscle from the neck of the fish, which is succulent and it has a different texture than the fillets. It also has a little cartilage-like material through the middle, which melts tender while cooking if the tongues are not too large. To me, they taste like the ocean, a little briney, sweet and juicy. The best thing I can compare them to are fried oysters or whole belly clams. Whatever the case, they're some good. In Newfoundland the traditional way to cook them is to bread them lightly in seasoned flour and pan-fry them in fat rendered from salt pork. I stayed pretty close to tradition for mine, and also made a tangy tartar sauce for dipping them in.
Fried Cod Tongues
2 lbs fresh cod tongues, washed and dried
1 cup flour, season with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper
4 ounces of salt pork cut into small 1/4-inch cubes (scrunchins)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Wash the cod tongues and dry with paper towels. Toss in the seasoned flour until lightly coated. Cook the salt pork in a skillet over a medium heat until the pork pieces are crispy and have released or rendered their fat. Add the vegetable oil to the skillet. Fry the cod tongues over medium-high heat until crispy and golden brown on each side. Eat them plain or dip them in this simple, tangy tartar sauce.
In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of salad dressing (such as Miracle Whip), 3 tbsp of sweet pickle relish, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce and a pinch of salt and pepper.
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About Me...The Wicked Newfoundlander
I'm originally from Newfoundland, Canada, and very proud of it! I moved to upstate New York in 2007, and I spend much of my time working and playing throughout New England. Besides my wife, our dog and hockey, I'm passionate about food. I love to cook and create great tasting food. I also love tasting and critiquing food, and comparing regional cuisine (notably Newfoundland and New England dishes).