There is a new Whole Foods closer to my home and I’ve been making special runs to get great looking produce, meats and also seafood. I’ve only bought fish from Whole Foods a few times, but things have changed since that first time when I was shocked by the prices. The lowering of Whole Foods prices is well known, but there are even more savings available for users of the Prime app.
A few weeks ago I saw one of these deals in the frozen seafood cabinet. Two pounds of good looking frozen cod fillets for $20. I didn’t plan on cooking the codfish at the time, but it’s good to have some backup fish in the freezer. Better than money in the bank on a cold winter evening.
With the holiday season here, I am reminded that cod and Christmas have gone hand in hand since the Middle Ages. However I’ve never cooked salt cod, since I’m really not a big fan. If I’m cooking cod I want it fresh, or at least not salted.
I do love the thought of being inspired by the Christmas cod traditions of the Mediterranean. As a Sicilian-American I find it interesting that cod, a fish our family caught here in the New World, was a traditional favorite in Southern Europe, even though there are no codfish. Sicilian cooking makes use of not only a lot of citrus, but many spices we normally associate with Christmas. My plan was to use this package of Whole Foods Frozen Cod in a baked dish with a touch of Southern Europe
The Cod Packaging
The cod is sold under Whole Foods’ 365 budget store brand. The packaging is a mostly clear, very thick plastic bag that easily shows the fish inside. I was pretty impressed with the quality of packaging, which easily withstood almost a month getting jostled in my freezer. Each frozen cod fillet was individually sealed for easy portion control.
The back labels states the cod was caught in Iceland. The bag also sports the familiar blue label of MSC Certification, which means it meets Whole Foods standard for sustainably caught seafood.
The Product: Frozen Cod Fillets
The six frozen fillets of Atlantic cod looked great, with nice white flesh and no noticeable blemishes. I thawed them overnight in my fridge. The firm cod fillets were in great shape after thawing, with a few ice crystals hanging on. The cod had a clean brine smell, no trace of fishy odor, you can tell this fish was handled very well all they way through the supply chain.
The Recipe: Baked Cod Mojo With Citrus Crumb Topping
This is a pretty standard New England style baked cod/haddock recipe but with a little added zing by using Mojo Sauce and lots of citrus zest. It’s an idea I came up with when trying to make a Christmas time fish dinner that combines my New England upbringing, with the some of the flavors of my Sicilian heritage.
- 2lbs Cod Fillets, thawed
- 4-6oz Mojo Co.’s mild Mojo Sauce
- 3-4oz Mayonnaise
- Citrus Zest (I used lemon, lime, mandarin orange)
- 6 Slices Sourdough bread torn apart
- Italian Parsley to taste (about a handful)
- 1/2 Stick of Butter
- Salt and Pepper
Ahead of time combine the Mojo Sauce, Mayonnaise and lemon zest and let mellow in the fridge. You can adjust the ratios in the sauce to your preference as long as you have enough to cover the fish fillets.
You can also get a head start on your breadcrumb topping by putting the sourdough pieces, salt, pepper, parsley and the remaining citrus zest in a food processor until nearly the desired size. The topping should have a very bright citrus aroma. You can finish the topping when it’s time to cook by pulsing the mix with half of the butter.
Pat dry and season the cod fillets before coating with the mojo sauce mixture and letting marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour. This is a long time to marinate fish, but my assumption is that the mayonnaise and mojo mixture wouldn’t acidic enough to “cook” the fish. Preheat the oven to 375F and then place the fish in a large buttered casserole. Top with the bread crumb mixture and bake for about 25-30 minutes.
How Was The Cod Mojo?
I thought the flavors were really good, especially the crumb topping with all the citrus zest. The Mojo sauce stood out but did not overpower thanks to blending it with the mayo. I will probably use a variation of this in the future. The cod mojo was not exactly “Christmas-y” in flavor, but it had a bright and warm aspect that took me back to my days of galavanting around Spain and Italy. If you like hot and spicy, this recipe could easily bring the heat with a few added ingredients.
The only problem…if you can call it that, is our household prefers haddock. So while the fish was flaky and had lots of good cod flavor, the family prefers the smaller flakes and milder flavor of haddock. Honestly so do I, cod was never eaten a lot growing up unless it was fried, which I think is the best thing to do with codfish. I thought the cod mojo was good, but could have been better with haddock. I don’t mind cod and I’m well aware it is the fish that made my hometown of Gloucester, but if I had to choose it would be our local haddock on my plate.
Regardless of my personal opinion on cod, this product from Whole Foods was very good quality for a good price, especially if you can’t get locally caught cod. The recipe is versatile and could work with any number of similar white fleshed fish so have fun adapting it to your own tastes. I also recommend checking out my friends over at Mojo Co. and get a bottle or two of their Canary Island version of mojo sauce.