Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cabillaud - Cod, the Fish. Cabillaud is Fresh Cod, Morue is Rehydrated Cod. Cod on French Menus. Cod is the Most Popular Fish in France.

Behind the French Menu.
Bryan G. Newman
Updated July 2018.

Atlantic Cod.
Photograph courtesy of the Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs

Cabillaud - Fresh Cod.  
Also on French menus as Morue de l'Atlantique, Morue Fraîche, and Morue Franche. 

Morue - France’s very popular reconstituted, dried and salted cod. 
Also on French menus as Stockfish. 

Without any question, cod is France’s favorite fish.

French chefs do wonders with fresh cod's flavorful, white, flaky, meat which is at its best when lightly cooked.  Fresh cod will usually be simply served with a butter sauce, though sometimes a crème fraîche and white wine sauce may accompany fresh cod.

Cod in cider with Swiss chard and fried mussels.
Photograph courtesy of Arnold Gatilao

Fresh cod on French menus:     

Cabillaud aux Herbes –- Fresh cod cooked with herbs; usually cod cooked in this manner will be accompanied by a butter and wine sauce. Ask.
Cabillaud a la Provençal  Fresh cod in the manner of Provence. This will be fresh cod lightly fried in olive oil with tomatoes, garlic, onions, courgettes, zucchinis in the USA, aubergines, eggplants in the USA.

Fish and Chips
Deep-fried cod in a beer batter from a UK chippy.
Photograph courtesy of velkr0.

La Morue Fraîche Saisie à la Plancha  aux Herbes et Sucs de Jeunes Légumes –- Fresh cod very lightly fried/grilled on a hot, thick, iron sheet called a plancha. Here, the fresh cod is prepared with herbs and flavored with the juices pressed from young vegetables. Cooking with a plancha uses a tiny amount of oil and is popular all over Southern France; it is also claimed as their own by the Basque who call their plancha a planxa.
Aioli de Morue Fraîche, Legumes Croquants  - Fresh cod flavored with Provence’s famous garlic flavored mayonnaise accompanied by crispy and crunchy, but very lightly fried, vegetables.

Steamed black cod in salsa verde
Photograph courtesy of Gnawme

Dos de Cabillaud à la Crème d' Ail – A thick cut of cod served with a garlic flavored cream sauce.
Morue and or Stockfish
The recipes and history of dried and salted cod in France:
On menus, the French names Morue, without any additional name, or Stockfish indicates that the dish will be using the popular and traditional desalted and rehydrated dried salted cod.
In pre-refrigeration times dried and salted cod was a massive industry; it existed for hundreds of years, and in a smaller form still exists today. In many countries. other than France, the words used are baccala, bacalao or baclhau, while some countries the same or similar words are used for fresh cod; the confusion should not be too surprising considering the age of the industry.  In Italy, reconstituted cod is called stoccafisso; it is the key ingredient in that traditional, and much-loved dish, bacala' alla Vicentina, cod in the Venetian manner.
Until thirty or forty years ago the French really didn't bother with fresh cod; reconstituted and desalted cod was considered superior. Stockfish is one of the old Scandinavian names for this dried fish, and it was the Scandinavians who supplied France as they still do today. Dried salted cod was essential, and not just for long sea voyages; it was the only way to transport and conserve sea-fish in areas far from the sea.

Salted cod drying on racks in Iceland;
very similar to those of over 1,000 years ago.
Photograph courtesy of Thom Quine.

To prepare dried salted cod for cooking requires experience and patience; it takes three or four days of soaking and changing the water to have the cod reconstituted.  Most French homes are pleased to let the fishmongers do this part of the work.

On your menu rehydrated and desalted cod may be in one of these dishes:
Piquillos Farcis à la Morue - Rehydrated cod stuffed with the famous, peeled and pickled red peppers from the Pay de Basque, the Basque country in South Western France. Piquillos peppers are sweet and tasty not spicy.

Piquillio peppers stuffed with goat's cheese.
Photograph courtesy of felicia.day

Accras de Morue - Reconstituted salt cod made into fritters and deep fried. This dish was brought to France from its Caribbean départements of Guadeloupe and Martinique; there it began as a recipe created by slaves. Until two hundred years ago these islands were France's primary suppliers of sugar and all the work was done by slaves the French settlers had imported from Africa. The slave’s most significant source of carbohydrates was imported salted and dried cod, and many of the same dishes are now 

Salade Tiède de Morue et Pommes de Terre –  A salad made with warm pieces of rehydrated and desalted cod and served with warm boiled potatoes.
Brandade de Morue –  One of the most popular traditional dishes made with re-hydrated and desalted salt.  There are many brandade-like recipes, under different names that will be on a French menu. In most of the recipes, the cod is prepared with garlic and olive oil and some recipes will add cream or milk; my personal favorite is a wonderful version made with mashed potatoes.

Deep fried Brandade de Morue.
Photograph courtesy of Arnold Gatilao

For those who, like me, enjoy visiting food markets, Nîmes has an active and diverting food and fish market despite its relatively small size; unsurprisingly it is called Les Halles. The market serves both retail and wholesale customers, and it is right in the center of the town. From my own experience, the vendors are knowledgeable and most are helpful; but you need to get there before 12:00, then the begin to close for the day.     
Brandade de Merluche – Another favorite and traditional cod-family fish recipe created from re-hydrated, de-salted fish, and it is very similar to the brandade de morue. Here, another member of the cod family, merluche, also called lieu noir is on the menu; that is saithe or pollock in English.
Estoficado, Stoficado and or Stockfish à la Niçoise, (Estoco-fi à la Niçardo in Provençal).  One of the most famous cod dishes of Nice, the Mediterranean city so famous for its impact on Provencal and French cuisine. The olive oil used in this stew of rehydrated cod, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, and Nice's olives will be Nice’s famous AOP olive oil.  
Estofinado – Another version of Estoficado, this one from the Midi-Pyrénées and the Auvergne made using walnut oil rather than olive oil.
The Scandinavians, or at the least the early inhabitants of Greenland, claim the discovery of North America from long before Columbus discovered Central and South America.  We know that they did discover North America because their fishermen and women left traces of temporary settlements on the North American coast close to their cod fishing grounds. These settlements were where the Greenlanders stayed for the winter when it was too cold and stormy for the long sea voyage home. On the sites of these temporary farms were also found traces of their traditional wood racks for drying cod; the same type of racks are still used today.
Apart from being a tasty fish cod, is and was a political fish; it is a fish that France and other countries have been to war over. Long before the oil producers and their excise of economic power, seafaring nations fought all over the world for the control of spices, and after spices came wars over fishing rights with conflicts over cod fishing rights leading the battle.

Part of the cod fishing fleet at Howth
Howth is a fishing village and an outer suburb of Dublin, Ireland.
Photograph courtesy of William Murphy

For an excellent read as well as insight into the effects of cod fishing on the world's economies, the problems of overfishing, and much more read “Cod ” a book by Mark Kurlansky. It is a unique insight into the history of this valuable fish. Penguin published the paperback edition I read.
The mystery of skrei in the Alsace.

Skrei is the Norwegian name for dehydrated and de-salted Atlantic cod, and I saw skrei as an entrée on a menu in a restaurant in Alsace, France. At that time, I had no idea what skrei was, and the chef-owner did not know any other name; he just said that this was a large dried and salted sea fish similar to morue, dried, and salted cod.

We had eaten in this restaurant before and enjoyed everything, so we tried the skrei, which also was excellent; it had been prepared in individual pastry casings and was and served with a sauce.   
At the table, the nearest fish that I could associate with the taste and texture was cod and I already knew that this was a cod family member. Through the internet and FishBase, I would find out that skrei was the Norwegian name for salted and dried cod, morue in French. Since then I have spent some fruitless moments considering how this Norwegian name arrived in Alsace when elsewhere in France the Scandinavian name stockfish was used. Why a Norwegian name? None of my musings come close to a logical answer. Does anyone have an idea of  how the name skrei came to the Alsace? 
Fresh cod in the languages of Frances neighbors:
(Catalan -  bacallà), (Dutch - kabeljauw), (German –- kabeljau, dorsch), (Italian -merluzzo bianco ),(Spanish  - bacalao, bacalao del Atlántico, bacallà).
Fresh cod in other languages:

(Chinese (Mandarin) - 大西洋鱈), (Danish - Almindelig torsk (Greek   - gados  ) (Dutch - kabeljauw), (Hebrew  –  shibut, shibbut zefoni, cod , bakala - בקלה), (Japanese – madara, tara), (Korean –대구- daegu),  (Norwegian – skrei), (Polish – dorsz), (Portuguese -  bacalhau), (Rumanian – cod). (Russian -  треска -  treska),  (Swedish - torsk),  (Tagalog - bakalaw), (Latin, Atlantic cod - gadus morhua).

Most of the translations for fresh cod in other languages have come from: FishBase Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2013. FishBase and a few have come from Google Translate ©.
Huiles d'Olive Française - French Olive oils. Enjoying France's Best Olive Oils.


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Bryan G.  Newman
Behind the French Menu.
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1 comment:

  1. Any difference between cod from France origin and Norway origin?