The secrets to frying cod


Cod is one of the most popular fish in Greece and is associated with tradition and family moments. It is usually the first fish we give our children as it has a mild taste, soft texture, and white colour, making it easier to remove all the bones correctly. Many of us started eating cod first, whether in soup, fried, or grilled.

But cod was also eaten by those living in mountainous Greece. Imported and salted, it was the ideal fish in the years when there were no refrigerators. Thus, after cod conquered the whole country, thanks to its relatively low price, the certainty of its preservation, and its deliciousness, the fish became identified with the Day of the Annunciation and Palm Sunday.

cod skordalia

Interestingly, the fish is best caught in the freezing seas of Northern Europe. Thanks to the historic way of preserving it with salt, it has become almost a national delicacy in Mediterranean countries such as Portugal and Greece, in addition to Great Britain, where it is also caught. Of course, it is widely consumed as fish and chips.

In Portugal, it is even said that there are over 100 cod recipes and that every household has its own.

What makes cod popular is its extremely mild taste. Its particularly neutral taste means it can be combined with many different ingredients and cooked in many ways.

The classic way to prepare salt cod is to cut it into the desired pieces and put it in a bowl with plenty of water, which is changed every 3-4 hours for about 1½ days. The time is not absolute and depends on the quality of the cod, the amount of salt and the thickness of the fillet.

Sometimes, at the end of the process, the cod retains a little salt, which makes it tastier when cooked.


For obvious reasons, go for fillets over bone-in cuts, even if they are a bit more expensive. Of course, even these usually have small bones along the middle of their back that need attention. It is better to get special fish deboning tweezers and free your fillets from them to enjoy your food more carefree.

If you want to fry the whole fillet with its skin on, dip it in batter and then in a pan with hot oil, usually sunflower oil. Some people prefer to flour it before dipping it in the batter, but I personally find that it weighs down the end result for no particular reason.

The alternative approach is to remove all the flesh from the skin and form small balls, which are then put in the batter and enjoyed as big bites. In addition to the traditional salt, you can always find frozen cod fillets with no bones, which are economical and practical.

cod fish

There are many different recipes for batter, including water, soda, beer, a special type of flour, and mixing flour with other ingredients. The goal is always to be crispy, golden, and light.

Here, we have to learn two secrets from the Japanese, who are experts in tempura batter, which is characterised as very light and fine. The goal of tempura batter is to minimise gluten development in the batter being fried so it remains light. This is helped by using liquid at a very low temperature (water, soda, or even beer), almost frozen. The other secret is to use corn flour, either by itself or mixed with regular flour.

Whatever recipe you make, the cod will never betray you. You will always have fish with a very delicate and easy flavour that will go well with hundreds of side dishes.


Dimitris Papazimouris is a columnist for Olive Magazine. Translated by Paul Antonopoulos.

READ MORE: Cod and skordalia: Five taverns in Athens for this traditional March 25 dish.

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