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Haddock and cod are related coldwater fish that are commonly caught off of the northern coasts of the Atlantic Ocean, in both America and Europe. Both fishes make popular fillets that are similar in size, texture and taste and difficult to tell apart. Learn about the subtle differences between haddock and cod so that you can distinguish between the two.
The easiest way to tell the difference between haddock and cod is to take a close look at their skin. While cooked haddock and cod meat are almost indistinguishable in appearance, the whole, un-filleted fishes are simple to tell apart. Haddock has a steel grey colour, while cod has a yellowish-green colour. Furthermore, each fish has its own distinct markings. Cod fish have spotted skin while haddock have two black stripes or a black patch that runs down the sides of the fish. Haddock also have a slightly higher dorsal fin than cod.
When cooked, haddock and cod have a very similar taste, making it difficult to distinguish between the two. Both fillets have a sweet, mild flavour, being low in fish oil and omega 3 fatty acids. Haddock is said to be slightly sweeter and stronger in flavour than cod, making it the preferable choice for many cooks and chefs.
Both haddock and cod fillets have a plump, delicate, flaky white texture with lean and firm flesh. Haddock, however, has a slightly finer, flakier texture than cod, which is a bit moister than its closely-related cousin. Cod fish also has a softer, chunkier flesh than haddock.
Haddock and cod generally fall into the same price range, along with whitefish and pollack. Haddock and cod are relatively inexpensive fish, available fresh and frozen. While there is no difference in price between prepared, frozen cod and haddock fillets and fish fingers, fresh haddock and cod vary slightly in price. On average, cod is slightly more expensive than haddock.
Haddock and cod are commonly prepared in several ways. Both fish are enjoyed breaded, pan or deep fried, broiled, poached, baked, sautéed and smoked. Their most frequent application, however, is in Hush Puppies and as breaded, fried fillets or, as the English famously call them, fish and chips platters. While the differences between breaded, fried Hush Puppies or fillets are subtle, some prefer one fish over the other. People who prefer a slightly drier, sweeter, flakier hush puppy or fried fillet will enjoy haddock more than cod. People who prefer a slightly milder, chunky, moist fish are more likely to enjoy cod Hush Puppies and fried fillets a bit more than haddock.
- Yankee Magazine; Jud's New England Journal: "The Legend of the Sacred Cod. Or Haddock. Or Scrod?"; August 2004
- South Shore Fishing; Eating Fish; Nov. 8, 2005
- Seattle Fish Company of New Mexico: Haddock
- The Sunday Times; "The Fish is Frying Tonight, but Do You know What it Really Is?"; Valerie Elliot, Dec. 5, 2008
- Alexandra Grablewski/Lifesize/Getty Images