The most important etiquette rules on how to serve and eat cod. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest at the dining table.


What cod etiquette is

Cod etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat cod. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow cod etiquette to serve it to your guests appropriately.

If you are a guest, respect cod etiquette rules to properly eat and enjoy it.

What you should know about cod

Cod is a saltwater fish. It is popular for its white and firm flesh, and delicate flavor. There are many varieties of cod, mostly depending on the habitat and region.

How To Serve And Eat Cod: The Top 6 Etiquette rules

Etiquette rules to serve and eat cod

1) How to store cod

It is best to eat cod right away. Do not leave cod outside, at room temperature, for over 2 hours.  

You can store cod in your fridge for 1 or 2 days. 

Alternatively, you can store cod in the freezer. It can last for up to 6-7 months. 

2) How to clean cod

Do not wash cod. According to the USDA, washing raw fish before cooking risks spreading bacteria

3) How to cook cod

There are several ways to cook cod. Bake, fry, poach, or grill. You can cook cod whole, or cook cod filets.

You can use cod as an ingredient in many dishes. Such as fish soups or stews. Cod is not appropriate on pizza and uncommon with pasta.

Cook cod thoroughly to avoid food poisoning. Fresh cod should cook at a temperature of at least 65°C (145°F).

4) How to serve & present cod

Serve cod whole or in filets. If you serve cod whole, you should clean it on the serving plate. Then, proceed to serve your guests, or pass the serving plate around.

To serve a whole cod, first cut it into two halves along its spine, from head to tail. Leave the head and the tail intact. Start from the head, hold the fish still with a fork, and cut the belly open from head to tail with a knife. Gently open the fish into two parts. 

Plate and serve one piece at a time. Do not serve random pieces here and there. Follow an order, starting from the head and working your way down to the tail. Do not flip the fish over to reach the meat on the other side of the spine. Instead, gently lift the spine and remove the flesh from beneath.

Serve cod with lemon wedges.

5) Foods and beverages to pair cod with

Cod pairs well with lemon, lemon-flavored sauces, and homemade mayonnaise. You can accompany cod with fresh, steamed, fried, or roasted vegetables. Potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, asparagus, and broccoli. 

Cod meat has a mild, delicate flavor. Avoid pairing it with flavors that risk overshadowing its taste. Avoid pairing cod with other fish or seafood. Do not pair cod with meat or dairy products. Cod is not common with pasta or rice, as its texture does not match well with grains.  

Pair cod with white wine. White Burgundy, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay, Verdicchio, or Albariño. Avoid red wines. 

6) How to eat cod

If cod is served whole on a serving dish, serve yourself with a few whole pieces of flesh. Use the serving utensils to place the flesh on your plate.

Eat cod with a fish fork and a fish knife. Do not use the knife to cut the flesh. Instead, use it to part in small bite-sized pieces. 

Look out for small bones, but do not make a mess or get obsessed with finding them. If you encounter a small bone in your mouth, discreetly remove it with your fingers. Discard it on one side of your plate. 

cod etiquette mistakes

Cod etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst cod etiquette mistakes. 

  • 9/10. Serving spoiled cod.
  • 7/10. Serving and plating cod without an order.
  • 6/10. Pairing cod with meat or dairy.
  • 5/10. Pairing cod with red wine.
  • 3/10. Serving cod with pasta or rice.

Additional information for properly serving cod

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.

Cod contains 82 calories per 100 grams. An individual serving is usually around 100 grams (3.5 oz) per person.

How to buy the best cod

A crucial factor in cod etiquette is to serve the best product possible to your guests.

Season and availability 

The season for cod depends on the habitat and the region. In general, the spawning season is the best one. It takes place between January and April.

Choose the best

To buy the best cod, choose whole fish with clear eyes and fresh shiny skin. If you buy a cut or a filet, choose cod with bright white skin.

Alternatives to cod

Substitute cod with fish that has a comparable texture and delicate flavor. Such as tilapia, red snapper, or haddock.


Is undercooked cod bad for you? Yes, undercooked cod has a high risk of bacteria. You should cook cod thoroughly to avoid food poisoning. Fresh cod should cook at a temperature of at least 65°C (145°F).