Cod, Haddock, Hake & Whiting
Cod [family Gadidae (Cods and haddocks)]

Cod fisheries have been so economically important on both sides of the Atlantic wars have been fought over them. There are many varieties of cod in both the North Atlantic and North Pacific, a number of which are economically important, but there are even more fish called "Cod" that aren't cod at all.   Photo of Atlantic cod by Hans-Petter Fjeld distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

Haddock are a highly commercial North Atlantic fish closely related to cod and found from the Arctic Circle to as far south as New Jersey and the north coast of France. They can get as large as 39 inches and 37 pounds.


  • Black Cod - Not a Cod - see Sablefish.
  • Lingcod - Not a Cod - see Lingcod.
  • Rock Cod (Red) - Not a Cod - see Rockfish / Scorpionfish.
  • Atlantic Cod   -   [Gadus morhua]
    Cod This highly commercial North Atlantic fish can grow to 78 inches and over 200 pounds. Populations are found off North America from Cape Hatteras to northern Canada, off Europe from Northern France through the Barents Sea and off Greenland and Iceland. Atlantic Cod populations have been over-fished and are rated "Vulnerable". Efforts are underway in Norway to develop methods for farming this fish.

    Cod produces white, mild flavored, low fat flesh that holds together well when cooked but flakes easily. It's one of the three fish used for British Fish and Chips (the other two are Haddock and Plaice. Cod is also smoked, dried (stockfish) and salted. It is particularly popular in the Basque country and Portugal. Photo by Bartlomiej Stroinski

    Salt Cod   -   [Bacalao (Basque, Spanish); Baccala (Italian); Bacalhau (Portuguese)]
    Salted Fillet

    Salt Cod was once an important staple in Europe, particularly Spain, Portugal, and Italy. The fishery, off the coast of Newfoundland, was discovered by Basque whalers, and they invented the salting technique still used today (the Norwegian Vikings freeze dried their cod).

    While fish can be transported and stored frozen today, the unique flavor of salt cod is still much favored in the cuisines of Spain, Portugal and Italy, as well as Canada and Brazil. The photo specimen was 19-1/2 inches long, 7 inches wide and 1-1/2 inches thick at it's thickest point, and weighed 2.3 pounds. It was purchased from an Italian market in Los Angeles, for 2012 US $ 11.99 per pound.   Details and Cooking.

    Pacific Cod   -   [Arctic Cod, Alaskan Cod, Gray Cod; Gadus macrocephalus]
    Pacific Cod

    This species has a distribution in the North Pacific similar to that of Atlantic Cod in the Atlantic. It is found as far south as the Yellow Sea and the coast of Southern California. This fish can grow to about 4 feet and 50 pounds but the photo specimen, from Canada, was 6.9 pounds and 25 inches long.

    This cod is not as threatened as the Atlantic cod, particularly since McDonalds has shifted to Alaskan Pollock (a cod relative). The Bering Sea and Aleutian Island fisheries have been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as responsible and sustainable.   Details and Cooking.

    Haddock   -   [Offshore Hake, Melanogrammus aeglefinus]
    Haddock

    A highly commercial North Atlantic fish closely related to cod, found from the Arctic Circle to as far south as New Jersey and the north coast of France. They can get as large as 39 inches and 37 pounds.

    Haddock flesh is much like cod, white, firm, low fat and holds together well when cooked. It is much used for British Fish and Chips. Haddock are sold fresh, dried and smoked, but, unlike cod, they don't take salting well.   Details and Cooking.   Drawing by H.L. Todd for U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration = public domain.

    Hake   -   [various fish mostly in family Merlucciidae but some in family Phycidae]
    European Hake

    This name is rather non-specific, but generally refers to smaller members of the order Gadiforms (cod, haddock, hake). Some have other names by which they can be found on this page. In European recipes just "Hake" would mean European Hake (Merluccius merluccius) or New England Whiting (Silver Hake) but Pacific Whiting (Pacific Hake) would work fine too.

    I recently purchased frozen fillets labeled "Hake, Wild Catch, China", but no fishbase listed Hake lives anywhere near China. Most listed hake are from closely along the Pacific or Atlantic coasts of the Americas and Europe, though some are from southern Australia / New Zealand. I'm pretty sure these fillets were actually Pollock. The illustration (copyright expired) is of European Hake (Merluccius merluccius), native to the Mediterranean, Black Sea and North Atlantic from Mauritania to the Norwegian Sea.

    Whiting - European   -   [English Whiting, North Sea Whiting, Merlangius merlangus]
    Fish swimming

    Native to the eastern North Atlantic and Baltic Sea, and through the Mediterranean and Black Sea, this is the "whiting" called for in European cookbooks. It was formerly considered a fish for the poor, but due to general overfishing of European waters it is now valued more highly. This fish can grow to 27 inches and over 6-1/2 pounds, but is commonly caught at 9-1/2 inches.   Photo by Georges Jansoone distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

    Whiting - New England   -   [Silver Hake, New England Hake, Merluccius bilinearis]
    Fish drawing

    This cod relative is native to the western North Atlantic from South Carolina to a bit north of Newfoundland, Canada. This fish is highly commercial, but most of the catch is exported to Europe where hake is more in demand, particularly in Portugal. This fish can grow to 30 inches and over 5 pounds, but are more likely to be less than 15 inches. This fish is so similar to the Pacific Whiting we presume you can use the same page for Details and Cooking.   Drawing © expired = public domain.

    Whiting - Pacific   -   [Pacific Hake, North Pacific Hake; Merluccius productus]
    Headless Fish

    This cod relative is native to the eastern North Pacific from southern Mexico to Vancouver Island, Canada, and is very similar to the Silver Hake found on the Atlantic side. Our photo example was, unfortunately, headless and without scales or guts, but you can see it is a very elongated fish of almost circular cross section with fragile fins nearly the entire length of the body, dorsal and ventral. This fish can grow to 35 inches and over 2-1/2 pounds, but the headless photo specimen was 12 inches (probably 17 inches head-on) and weighed 8-1/4 ounces (probably 14 ounces head-on). The head is probably removed because it is so long.   Details and Cooking.

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