Thursday, September 10, 2009

Our Friend, Cod

That New York Times article this morning not only gave me a serious Filet-O-Fish craving but also made me curious to learn more about the intriguing fish contained within this sandwich, the hoki.

Sadly, the hoki does not have much of an online presence at the moment (Hey, hoki! Try Facebook!), so I decided instead to research some fun factoids about its close relative, the cod. Mmmmm, what a delicious--I mean, interesting--animal:

Cod is a popular food fish with a mild flavor, low fat content and a dense white flesh that flakes easily. Cod livers are processed to make cod liver oil, an important source of Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). Larger cod caught during spawning are sometimes called skrei. Young Atlantic cod or haddock prepared in strips for cooking is called scrod.

The Atlantic cod, which can change color at certain water depths, has two distinct color phases: grey-green and reddish brown. Its average weight is 10 lb to 25 lb, but specimens weighing up to 200 lb have been recorded. Cod feed on molluscs, crabs, starfish, worms, squid, and small fish. Some migrate south in winter to spawn. A large female lays up to five million eggs in mid-ocean, a very small number of which survive.

In the United Kingdom, Atlantic cod is one of the most common kinds of fish to be found in fish and chips, along with haddock and plaice. It is also well known for being largely consumed in Portugal and Spain.

Pre-spawning courtship involves fin displays
which leads to pairing. Adult cod are active hunters, feeding on sand eels, whiting, haddock, small cod, squid, crabs, lobsters, mussels, worms, mackerel, and molluscs, supplementing their diets. Young cod eat the same but avoid larger prey.

Periodically a cod with a deformed skull is found; the skull has a distinct top or crown giving it the name "king cod" or kongetorsk in Norwegian. In Norway this rare fish was earlier considered to have the ability to forecast the weather and was commonly used for that purpose. A woolen thread was used to hang the fish from the ceiling and the fish's nose would point in different directions depending on the weather to come for the few next days. In reality, it was not the fish but rather the thread causing the movement. By absorbing humidity from the air, the twisted thread served as a primitive hygrometer, turning the fish to slightly different positions depending on the humidity of the air.

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