Fish guts and cod tongues

I’ve been busy with school administrative stuff and field work in Cape Breton recently. Luckily, I did have the opportunity to go halibut longline fishing with one of the guys up here. That should really be ‘halibut’ fishing. We only saw one (undersize) the whole trip. It was quite a change from fishing on the west coast where even research boats can catch thousands of pounds of halibut a day.

So my halibut trip ended up being more of an Atlantic cod, hake, and haddock trip but that was still pretty interesting because I had never seen them up close before. This gave me the ‘opportunity’ to gut a couple thousand pounds of these groundfish. I had never noticed before how different similar species can smell. They each had their own distinctive smell and I could tell from across the boat whenever someone opened up a haddock. This made me wonder how I had never noticed any smells when I was up observing in Alaska. I realized the only fish anyone ever gutted was halibut so I missed out on the olfactory differentiation of the guts of the Alaskan fishes. Or maybe I was just too cold, hurried, stinking of fish and tired to notice. If I’m ever up that way again I’ll have take the time to appreciate the bouquets.

Anyway since I had just been out for the ride and had managed to help out slightly more than I had gotten in the way (and since they’re really nice guys), the fishermen offered me some of their prized cod tongues. I had never realized anyone ate cod tongue before. But here in Nova Scotia and, I gather Newfoundland, all the fishermen take extra time to cut out each cod’s tongue and save it in a special bucket for themselves. This is a little odd since it takes about as much time to gut a fish as it does to cut out its tongue. I gather they really look forward to eating the tongues.

Raw cod tongues

Frying cod tongues

So I took my bag of cod tongues and set out to taste the culinary delights of Cape Breton. If you ever find yourself in possession of a mess of cod tongues and want to fry them up, you’ll need:

  • Bisquick (or flour)
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Egg
  • Cod tongues, of course

After dipping the tongues in egg and covering with Bisquick, salt, and pepper, I fried them until they were white all the way through, about 7 minutes if I remember correctly. Now all I had to do was take the plunge and give them a try.

It turns out cod tongues are pretty tasty. To me they tasted a bit different from the rest of the cod although the girlfriend was not convinced. The texture certainly was different. Half of the tongue is like jelly. This is a texture I am not at all used to having fish flavored and after the novelty started to wear off, I have to admit I didn’t really care for this part of the tongue. I learned later that this part is called, unsurprisingly, the jelly and most of the fishermen don’t like it all that much themselves. The non-jelly part was definitely tasty and had a nice texture so I definitely would recommend trying cod tongues if the opportunity ever arose.

Fried cod tongues