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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
Last updated January 2017.
on French menus as Cabillaud, Morue de l'Atlantique, Morue Fraîche,

Morue Franche, and or  Morue Commune

Morue or Stockfish

France’s very popular reconstituted dried and salted cod.


The Atlantic Cod.

Photograph courtesy of the Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs
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 mussel and butter sauce.  

Photograph courtesy of mahaz.
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.

Braised filet of fresh cod,.
Photograph courtesy of  JL Carves.
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 juices pressed from young vegetables. Cooking with a plancha is popular all over Southern France and is claimed as their own by the Basque who call their  planch a planxa
Aioli de Morue Fraîche, Legumes Croquants  - Fresh cod flavored with Provence’s famous garlic flavored mayonnaise accompanied by crispy and crunchy, very lightly fried, vegetables.

Steamed black cod.
Photograph courtesy of Ulterior epicure.
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 it 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 and 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 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
 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 where it was originally a recipe created by slaves. Until two hundred years-ago these islands were France's main supply 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 served, with minor changes, in the finest French mainland restaurants.
 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 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.
Brandade de Morue.
Photograph courtesy of roboppy
 Brandade de Morue de Nîmes, Brandade de Morue à la Nîmoise or Brandade de Nîmes – This is a Brandade de Morue version from the Southern French town of Nîmes. The locals consider their Brandade the original and in this version, at least with the original recipe, there is no cream, just olive oil, lemon juice and pepper served with croutons or fried bread.(Italian -baccala con patate), (Spanish - brandada de bacalao).

 For those who enjoy visiting food markets, Nîmes has an active and diverting food and fish market, not overly large, 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 mostly helpful; but you need to get there before 12:00.      
 Brandade de Merluche – Another popular 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). This version of brandade is claimed by Nice, the Mediterranean city so famous for its impact on Provencal and French cuisine. The olive oil dripped over the dish just before serving will be Nice’s famous AOP olive oil.  Most versions in addition to the potatoes, that here are often sliced not mashed, will be include tomatoes, basil leaves, garlic and Nice’s AOP black olives.
Estofinado – Another version of brandade, this one from the Midi-Pyrénées  and the Auvergne made using walnut oil rather than olive oil.
The Scandinavians, or at the least the 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 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 in 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 went 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 wars over cod  fishing rights leading the battle.

St Andrews Scotland, fishing for cod.
Photograph courtesy of Simon Swales.
For more great photographs see Simon's facebook page.

 For an excellent read on cod's effect on the world's economies, as well as the problems of over- fishing, and much more read “Cod; ” a book by Mark Kurlansky. It is a unique insight into the history of this important fish. The paperback edition I read was published by Penguin.
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 new that this was a cod family member. Through the internet and Fish Base I later found out that skrei was the Norwegian name for salted and dried cod, morue in French. Since then have spent some fruitless moments considering how this Norwegian name arrived in Alsace, France where the name morue is also used.   None of my musings come close to a logical answer; foes anyone have an idea 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), (Japanes – 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 © .

 Dining well and differently in Nice. The Unique Cuisine from the City and the Comté de Nice 
Do Herbs and Spices, in France, Begin with Garlic?
French olive oils.
  Herbs and Spices in the French Kitchen II. Basilic or Herbe Royal - Basil, Common Basil or Sweet Basil.  



Why is the AOC becoming an AOP on French Foods, Wines and More?
Bryan G.  Newman
Behind the French Menu.
Copyright 2010,2013.
For more information on the book behind the blog contact Bryan Newman