If cod could use their tongues to talk, they might ask you why anyone would want to eat them.
Well, that’s true.
To regular diners,a dish of fish tongues might sound slimy, tiny, and even disgusting.
But in Newfoundland it’s a local delicacy as iconic as moose nose or seal-flipper pie.
And these appetizers, which have a flavor similar to scallops, are not tongues at all!
Although this slightly rubbery snack actually looks like it might belong in the mouth of a monstrous cod, each “tongue” is actually a small gelatinous muscle extracted from the back of the fish’s neck.
Lightly battered and topped with salt, pepper, and scraps of pork locally called “scrunchions”, these fleshy bits of fish are transformed into a pricey appetizer that can be enjoyed throughout the coastal province.
But just decades ago, cod tongues were far from the revered treats they are today.
They were first consumed out of necessity, as a tidbit that could be had for nothing by anyone willing to sift through the piles of discarded fish heads on the docks and cut it out.
Cod was once abundant in Labrador Sea, where they say the cod were once so thick you could walk across the bay on their backs, and most fishermen didn’t bother scooping out the neck muscle of their loot.
It was often children who, in the hopes of making some extra pocket money, or simply to feed the family, would parse through piles of chopped and discarded cod heads and remove the fleshy morsel.
By the early 1990s, however, overfishing led to the near-extinction of local cod and the Canadian government placed a moratorium on commercial fishing off Newfoundland’s shores, leaving thousands jobless.
And even more cod-less.
Though several small fisheries have been established in recent years, cod is no longer the easily accessible product it once was. And the “tongues” are no longer considered discards.
However, you can still taste Newfoundland’s most popular tongue, as long as you’re willing to fish out a few extra dollars for it….
Images from web – Google Research