Lean, mild and flaky, cod works with almost any side dish and pairs well with most flavors, as it's relatively neutral in taste. That said, some sides work best with deep-fried or broiled cod, while others have flavors, textures or temperatures that pair with baked or poached cod. Sometimes called scrod or whitefish, cod from the waters of Alaska and those farmed worldwide in recirculating aquacuture systems both make the Seafood Watch Best Choice list published by the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.
Starches and Grains
French fries traditionally accompany deep-fried cod, often on the menu as fish and chips. But you could mix things up a bit by serving french-fried sweet potatoes, a baked sweet potato or mashed potatoes instead. Or, create an Asian-inspired menu and serve soba or udon noodles with peanut sauce or a soy-ginger-sesame sauce. If you like rice, serve a risotto alongside the fish, and if you like beans, go with baked navy beans.
Acidic tomatoes with a shallot vinaigrette give your meal some tang to balance the mild fish. A fruit salad with orange segments, sliced radishes and spicy lettuce, such as arugula or frisee, brings the same kind of contrast to the plate. For fried cod, follow tradition and serve coleslaw, with cabbage, carrots and parsley for crispy texture and cool temperatures.
Serve any strong-flavored vegetable, such as roasted leeks or fennel, to add interest to a broiled or baked cod entree. For an Asian menu, saute bok choy or broccoli, and sprinkle either vegetable with a little sesame oil and minced ginger. If you're serving baked or broiled cod in the winter, serve filling and warm roasted vegetables alongside, such as carrots, eggplant and roasted bell peppers.
Chutneys and Garnishes
Spoon flavorful relishes directly over cod cooked in any way. Tropical fruit salsas made with mangoes or papaya turn a cod entree into a special meal, but a plain tomato salsa from a jar also gives the fish a boost. For equally deep flavors, serve a commercial apple or plum chutney or make your own chutney with red onions and port wine. Whether you use salsa or a chutney, sprinkle a handful of chopped cilantro or chives over the dish to finish.
Susan Lundman began writing about her love of cooking, ingredient choices, menu planning and healthy eating after working for 20 years on children's issues at a nonprofit organization. She has written about food online professionally for ten years on numerous websites, and has provided family and friends with homemade recipes and stories about culinary adventures. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.