Cod is one of the"best choices" for eating seafood as part of a heart-healthy diet, according to the FDA, with some of the lowest mercury levels of any fish. The best way to cook cod, for a heart-healthy dinner, is to bake it.
Know Basic Baked Cod Nutrition
In its 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends eating at least 8 ounces of seafood per week. Cod delivers a lot of protein — roughly 20 grams in every 4-ounce serving, according to the USDA. There are only 1.3 grams of fat and 155 calories in the serving if you bake it without adding any butter.
Cod is rich in a host of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Here's what you get in a 4-ounce serving:
- Vitamin A — 10.2 international units
- B1 (thiamine) — 0.168 milligram
- B2 (riboflavin) — 0.15 milligram
- B3 (niacin) — 2.22 milligrams
- B6 (pyridoxine) — 0.13 milligram
- B9 (folate) — 8.4 milligrams
- B12 — 2.03 international units
- Vitamin D — 0.68 international unit
- Vitamin E —0.61 international unit
- Vitamin K — 0.791 international unit
Read more: How to Bake Cod Fish in Foil
- Calcium — 44.1 milligrams
- Copper — 0.06 milligram
- Iron — 1.08 milligrams
- Magnesium — 29.4 milligrams
- Phosphorus — 349 milligrams
- Potassium — 310 milligrams
- Selenium — 31.4 international units
- Sodium — 475 milligrams
- Zinc — 0.61 milligram
- Beta carotene — 1.13 international units
- Lutein + zeaxanthin — 2.26 international units
- Retinol — 10.2 international units
Bake a Cod
The best cod recipes won't taste right if your fish isn't fresh. Choose fresh fillets that smell like the sea, not fishy or ammonia-like, advises the Food and Drug Administration. The flesh should be firm and spring back when pressed lightly. If buying the fish whole, look for clear eyes and red gills. Fish labeled as previously frozen might not have these characteristics, but should still smell fresh.
When buying frozen cod, make sure there are no ice crystals or frost, and the body doesn't bend. Also make sure the package isn't crushed or torn. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using it.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare your fish with seasonings and place on aluminum foil in a baking dish. Bake your fish for 10 minutes for every inch of thickness. If your fillet is a half-inch thick, bake it for just 5 minutes.
Keep an eye on your catch to make sure it doesn't turn rubbery. Fish is done when its internal temperature is 145 F, according to a meat thermometer. Its flesh should be opaque, white and flake easily when pierced with a fork.
The Mayo Clinic suggests seasoning cod with Old Bay Seasoning before popping it in the oven. Alternatively, baste the fillets with honey and roll in crushed seasoned stuffing mix, according to simple cod recipes on the organization's website.
Bake It Thoroughly
No matter how you choose to prep cod in the oven, it's crucial to make sure it's completely done. The fish is host to parasites, which are harmless when ingested in their non-live state, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control. Although candling tables use light to remove parasites from the fresh catch, it's not unusual to find an occasional worm when cooking cod fillets.
Use a meat thermometer when cooking cod fillets to make sure it reaches an internal temperature of 145 F. You can also tell if cod is cooked by seeing if the flesh has turned from translucent to white.
The fish should flake and separate from the bones easily. Avoid cooking cod fillets too long to avoid a fish that turns tough, rubbery and flavorless.
Read more: How to Cook Frozen Cod in the Oven
The most common parasites to watch out for in undercooked cod are Anisakis roundworms. Also known as cod worms, herring worms or seal worms, they can cause gastric symptoms within a few hours to a few weeks. Consult your doctor if you have symptoms associated with eating undercooked fish.
Freezing fish to an internal temperature of -4 F for at least 7 days or -31 F for 15 hours will also kill the parasites. Not all home freezers reach these temperatures. An inexpensive appliance thermometer is the best way to know how cold your freezer gets, according to the FDA.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Advice About Eating Fish"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Cod; Coated, Baked or Broiled, Made Without Fat"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Cod; Coated, Baked or Broiled, Made With Butter"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Cod; Coated, Baked or Broiled, Made With Margarine"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Cod; Coated, Baked or Broiled, Made With Oil"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Selecting and Serving Fresh and Frozen Seafood Safely"
- Mayo Clinic: "Fish and Shellfish Recipes"
- Pennsylvania State University: "Illness-Causing Fish Parasites"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Are You Storing Food Safely?"