How to clean the parasites from fresh COD fish

Written by jeffrey brian airman
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How to clean the parasites from fresh COD fish
Fresh cod ready to be cleaned. (tanto cibo image by paologo from

Clean the parasites from fresh cod fish to avoid serving the little worms in the cooked fillets. Cod worms, or anisakis nematode, are common whitefish parasites that can be found in even the freshest seafood. These cod parasites are safe for human consumption if they are cooked along with the fish, but seeing them in a fillet may disgust your diners. Carefully examine and clean your fresh cod fish to avoid leaving parasites in the flesh.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Cutting board
  • Fillet knife
  • Cold running water
  • Tweezers or needle nose pliers
  • Clean bowl
  • Bright light

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  1. 1

    Bone and clean the fresh cod on the cutting board and wash the harvested liver and flesh under cold running water.

  2. 2

    Make a shallow slice into the membrane the covers the liver, then use your fingers to peel it away. The liver of parasite infested fish is usually the site of highest concentration.

  3. 3

    Discard the membrane and rinse away any parasites on the surface of the liver under cold running water.

  4. 4

    Return the cod liver to the cutting board and cut it into half-inch slices.

  5. 5

    Examine each slice of the cod liver for embedded parasites and use the tweezers or needle nose pliers to pull out any you find. Rinse the slices of liver under the cold water and set them aside in a clean bowl.

  6. 6

    Place the deboned cod on the cutting board and slide the knife parallel to slice away the skin and reveal the translucent flesh.

  7. 7

    Hold the boneless skinless cod fillet an inch away from a bright light bulb and look through the fish for dark lines. The parasites block the light from coming through the flesh and reveal their location.

  8. 8

    Return the cod fillet to the cutting board and use the tip of the tweezers or needle nose pliers to pull out the parasites. Throw the parasites into the trash or garbage disposal. Living parasites will often be actively squirming.

Tips and warnings

  • Cook the cod above 60 degrees Celsius before serving to ensure that all the undiscovered parasites are killed.

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