I didn’t know that cod had tongues. I didn’t even know they could speak. Kristin’s father told me about them being a delicacy a long time ago, and I had been anxious to try them ever since. Until last week, I only caught relatively small cod whose tongues were too small.
So when I pulled up a 19-lb cod with a head as big as Nora’s, my first thought was, I bet the tongue is huge. With the help of someone onboard who’s done it before, I sliced off the tongue before discarding the head. The cheeks also. When another slightly smaller cod came up, I performed the same operation. 2 tongues and 4 cheeks, about the size of big scallops.
People in Newfoundland — another historic cod fishing area — eat cod tongues too. They deep fry them and serve them with scruncheons, which are goblets of pork. Today I got around to making them for myself for lunch. (I don’t think anyone else in my family would touch them). I coated the tongues and cheeks with flour and fried them in hot butter, and made a lemon capper sauce using the same pan. They were delicious. Just delicious.
Cod tongue doesn’t have any muscles; it’s certainly not used to articulate speech. The tongue is a chunk of gelatinous flesh without a lot of flavor, so you really have to be into that kind of texture to like eating it. Chinese food is as much about texture as flavor, so you’d expect me to like this stuff. The cheek has a stringy texture similar to scallops but firmer. The two served together make a nice contrast in texture.
Cod collar is also very good; the bits of meat on it are even stringier and firmer than the cheek. Japanese are very fond of fish collar: they like to marinated it with miso and broil it. And cod skin. A month or two back, I made salt cod and afterwards, just for kicks, I cut the skin into squares and roasted them in the oven and made a pile of crunchy cod skin chips. Nora gobbled them down like candy as she chanted “fishie, fishie, yum, yum!”
When I gutted the big cod, I saved the roe. Two days ago, I poached one set of roe and then fried the slices in butter. Also delicious. In Norway and Sweden, cod roe, Kaviar, come in tubes like toothpaste. It is definitely an acquired taste, which Marcus certainly did acquire. He loves it squeezed over soft-boiled eggs for breakfast.
I heard a story of someone who mistakenly used a tube of Kaviar when brushing teeth… It surely must be an urban legend.