Cod and stockfish: this is the difference

What is the difference between cod and stockfish? Is it the same thing? These are some of the questions asked by those who approach these fish products for the first time to use them in the kitchen. Stewed, fried or creamed, cod and stockfish are prepared in many ways. Not to mention the many local-regional specialties, such as the variations “alla vicentina”, “alla livornese” and “portuguese”, just to name a few. Let’s try to understand, therefore, how to distinguish these two foods.

Cod and stockfish: the difference

To understand the difference between cod and stockfish you need to take a step back and understand what products we are talking about and where they come from. First of all, these are not two different fish, but one: both products derive in fact from cod. To be precise from cod (il years in morhua), the one that populates the northern waters of the Atlantic Ocean, a species with white flesh and a delicate taste. What changes between cod and stockfish are the processing mode once the fish is caught, the next storage and the preliminary stages to his use in the kitchen.

The cod

Let us now delve into this difference. In a nutshell, cod is salted cod. It is produced in different Northern European countries, including Norway, Denmark and Iceland. The processing of the fish begins as soon as it is caught: first it is gutted, then the fillets are obtained and these are finally covered in salt.

The so-called salting lasts three weeks and, every seven days, the cod is turned so that the salt is absorbed evenly and that the fish loses all the water inside. A second version of cod provides instead its drying. For this process the fillets are placed in special tunnels for a week. In both cases, we can speak of cod only if the absorbed salt content exceeds 18%.

The Preparation of a cod-based dish requires a little patience. Before proceeding with the chosen recipe, the cod thus processed needs to be put soak for 2-3 days to lose the excess salt and be used later.


When we speak of stockfish, however, we refer to air dried cod. This fish product is produced almost exclusively in Norway. In particular, in one place: le isolate Lofoten. Unlike cod, prepared all year round, stockfish it has its own seasonality which runs from February to April.

This is because cod come to Norwegian seas in winter to spawn, but also because of the climatic conditions conducive to drying. Indeed, after fishing, the cod fillets come placed on special racks (visible in the photo above) and, in the spring, let it dry outdoors for about three months with the help of the sun and the wind.

If for cod you need patience in the kitchen, with stockfish you need even more. For the latter, in fact, it is necessary at least a week of soaking to make it soften. In these seven days, the water must be changed every 24 hours to stay cool, possibly with the help of a little ice. The level of softness to be achieved depends above all on the use to be made of it.

Tricky dishes

In some cases, traditional salted or dried cod dishes mislead you by talking about one product when actually using its alternative. An example are the typical recipes of the Venetoamong which the Vicenza-style cod stands out, or in its dialectal version Vicenza-style codwhich instead is consciously prepared using stockfish.

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