Have you ever kissed a cod on the lips? Me neither. As a matter of fact the thought of doing so had never even occurred to me until I read an article in The New Yorker magazine (March 27, 2017, page 19) entitled “Plane People:”
“On September 11, 2001, after flights were rerouted to their nearest airports, thirty-eight jets suddenly landed in Gander, Newfoundland, stranding some seven thousand passengers for up to five days in a town with only five hundred hotel rooms.”
The residents of Gander rose to the occasion and they proved to be wonderful hosts. In a gesture of friendship, they made each passenger an “honorary Newfoundlander.” For the passengers to receive this honor an official ceremony was required called “screeching in.” “Visitors wear yellow sou’westers, eat hard bread and pickled bologna, kiss a cod on the lips, then drink the local rum called Screech while onlookers bang an ‘ugly stick’ covered in beer-bottle caps.”
Each new honorary Newfoundlander is presented a certificate. Afterwards they can continue to hang out with the Newfoundlanders drinking Screech, eating their local fare, and taking their turn at banging the ugly stick.
Well, I’m always on the alert for new party ideas. Becoming an honorary Newfoundlander is probably not on a lot of bucket lists, but this did sound unique with possibilities for a good time, so I started to plan.
I know I can come up with the hard bread, pickled bologna, and a bottle of Screech. I found a YouTube video “Donna & Andy – How To Make An Ugly Stick,” so all I have to do is purchase the materials and do it. Trying to find an “original” Newfoundlander to preside over the ceremony has become a problem, and I’m assuming that kissing a cod would have to be performed on a live (or at least fresh) whole cod. I figured, if I can find an “original” Newfoundlander, there should be plenty of cod around.
I do have plans for all of the cod we’ll have become so intimate with – we’ll eat it. I have never scaled and cut up a fish, but on Leiths School of Food and Wine site, he describes how to do this. I will be very precise in following his instructions, and once this is done I will prepare the sacred cod according to the simple but tasty recipe listed below.
Cod Oven-baked With Herbs
2.5 lb.Cod fresh whole
To tasteKosher salt
Bundle plus extraFresh herbs (your choice)
4Garlic cloves smashed
2 cupsWine white
SprigsParsley or other garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Warm plates or platter at 200 degrees in another oven (if you have a second oven).
Time: 50 Minutes
On a preparation board make 3 diagonal slices about 1/2-inch deep on each side of the fish. Sprinkle salt and olive oil over the fish. Be generous.
Season the inside of the cod with salt and olive oil. Place 4 lemon slices, the bay leaves, a bundle of the mixed herbs and 2 of the garlic cloves inside the body cavity.
Line a raised cookie sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the remaining herbs, lemon slices and garlic in the center of the tray and lay the cod on top.
Fold up the aluminum foil around the sides of the fish to create a sort of baking dish. Add the white wine and place in the preheated oven and roast until the fish is just cooked through, about 30 to 35 minutes.
Remove from oven. Transfer using a double spatula technique (the fish may be flakey) to warmed plates or platter. Dust lightly with paprika, and garnish with a parsley sprig if desired. This is a dish that should present nicely.
A brown rice and fresh peas goes nicely with this fish. Also, if you have cooked with a chardonnay, I would recommend that’s what you should pair with this dish.