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Product Spotlight: Lingcod

The flaky, white-fleshed fish fills a niche in West Coast restaurants at either end of the dining scale

By Linda Skinner
April 01, 2006

Lingcod doesn’t often make its way beyond the West Coast. But there, it’s a chefs’ favorite, whether in a fish-and-chips basket or center-plate in a white-tablecloth setting.

The lingcod, despite its name, is neither a cod nor a ling. It’s actually a Pacific greenling, from the family Hexagrammidae. The lingcod likely got the “ling” part of its name from early settlers who related it to European lings but added the “cod” to acknowledge its flaky white flesh. “Cultus cod” was the name used most often in the early 1900s — an insult to a fine fish, since cultus means “of little worth” in the Chinook language.

Lingcod ranges from Baja California to Kodiak Island and the Alaska Peninsula. It is a bycatch of trawl and longline fisheries, though there is a targeted fishery in southeast Alaska, where fishermen troll the bottom for lingcod with “dinglebars.” Harvest method determines the quality and price of this fish; the best lingcod is landed by hook-and-line boats that bleed and ice the catch immediately after harvest.

Overfishing led to the adoption of management measures in 2000, and lingcod stocks have since rebounded, especially in the species’ northern reaches. U.S. landings in 2004, the most recent data available, totaled 391,862 pounds. Oregon is the biggest producer, at 162,367 pounds, followed by California at 136,327 and Washington at 91,516 pounds. At-sea processors accounted for the rest.

Most of the lingcod on the domestic market is imported from British Columbia. Canada supplied 760,032 pounds in 2004, nearly double the domestic supply, and exported 848,085 to the United States last year.

Lingcod can grow to 90 pounds, but the typical market size is around 10 pounds. Primary product forms are fresh or frozen H&G or skinless fillets. Most of the supply is sold for foodservice use, but lingcod also can be found in good retail seafood departments.

Lingcod is a frequent special at Anthony’s, comprising 23 waterfront restaurants, ranging from takeout to upscale, throughout the Pacific Northwest. Anthony’s Homeport in Edmonds, Wash., menus Lingcod Caddy Ganty, oven baked with sour cream, red onion and fresh dill, as well as Fishermen’s Cioppino, featuring lingcod along with mussels, Manila clams and salmon. Anthony’s casual-dining Bell St. Diner in Seattle lists lingcod among its fresh-fish plates, flash seared and glazed with garlic butter.

Meanwhile, the upscale Fish Market Seafood Restaurant in San Diego sells a breaded lingcod sandwich, a charbroiled lingcod entrée and a skewered combo of shrimp, scallops and lingcod.

Find other SeaFood Business articles with lingcod here.

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