Lingcod [Buffalo Cod, Blue Cod, Green Cod, White Cod; Ophiodon elongatus of family Hexagrammidae (Greenlings)]

The only representative of genus Ophiodon, the Lingcod is not a Ling and it's not a Cod. At the order level it is related to the West Coast Rockfish (family Scorpaenidae). This fish is found on the Pacific coast of North America from The Gulf of Alaska down to Ensenada, Mexico, and is considered an excellent eating fish. Lingcod can grow to nearly 60 inches and 130 pounds but the photo specimen was 27-3/4 inches and weighed just under 7 pounds.

This fish's IUCN Red List status is NE (Note evaluated). Monterey Bay status: "Good Alternative", noting that the formerly severely overfished northern population has rebounded, while the southern population is stable but still depleted.

More on Varieties of Fish.

The flesh of this fish is light in color and flavor. In texture it is very reminiscent of cod, but the flavor is better. It remains quite firm for all methods of wet cooking and breaks into rather large flakes on the plate. Not so good for grilling (not fatty enough) or pan frying (fillets too thick).

Buying:   This is strictly a West Coast fish, and is not always available even here in Los Angeles. It has been appearing fairly often in Asian markets now in late summer, sourced from Mexico, I is common in the catch of sport fishermen but restricted to 24 inches and up in US waters. Fish from Mexico can be smaller.

Scales:   No scales were found on the specimen fish, but there must be at least a few somewhere because this fish is rated kosher.

Cleaning:   Nothing unusual here, but you need to be cautious of sharp teeth and sharp gill rakers. It is advisable to use kitchen shears and a sturdy set of long nose pliers to remove the gills.

Fillet:   This is a very limp fish which makes handling a little awkward, but unlike some other limp fish the bone structure is clear and easy to follow. Remove the head and cut downward to the backbone working from head end to tail. Go over the backbone at the tail and work forward until you get to the ribcage. Cut the ribs from the backbone with kitchen shears - they are very short and easily pulled from the fillets. There are also plenty of centerline spines, and you should pull the first few very long ones out straight forward, but they soon become to fragile to pull. Fortunately most disappear during cooking, but guests should be warned there might be a few left.

Yields:   A 6 pound 15 ounce fish yielded 3 pounds 9-3/4 ounces of skin-on fillet (52%), 3 pounds 2 ounces skin-off (45%)

Skin:   Shrink is severe, but cooked out it is gelatinous and does not have a strong or "off" flavor. The skin is easily removed using the standard log knife and cutting board method, but the skirt is wide and thin so it's best to cut it off and skin it separately.

Stock:   A usable stock can be made from the heads, bones and fins, but it has a stronger taste and aroma than I prefer.

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