Pan Fried Ling Cod

from Codfathers in Kelowna


Living in the prairies, if you don’t fish, you are fish deprived in a serious way. Alberta fresh water fish is not sold anywhere consistently. The only way to get it is to go fishing yourself or take your chances on the one or two places in town that occasionally bring some in. Securing sustainably fished fresh water fish makes a wonderful addition to our carnivorous prairie diet.


 As a child, dad had a friend that would fish in Northern Alberta and keep us well stocked with white fish which has lots of bones, but is so delicious that picking them out is a pleasure. Mom would always prepare Harvard Beets and dad would fry the fish in butter. The sweet and sour sauce from the beets is the perfect combination for the crisp, buttery, fried white fish. I still love to make these beets when I fry white fish.


In Kelowna last year, I met John of Codfathers and visited his fishmonger’s shop, thanks to Valerie from More Than Burnt Toast who took me touring around my last day there. We have nothing similar to this shop in Edmonton. John is well stocked with all kinds of West Coast fresh water and Ocean water fish. He is an Ocean Wise shop and seeks to sell sustainable fish which is the only kind I will buy and eat. Watch “Salmon Confidential” if you need convincing that farmed fish is a viable option at this time. (It is a feature length film and I watched it in half hour increments throughout one day. It will change everything  you think about fish you buy at a store.)

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Photo of John, above, and the lovely pan fried-in-butter ling cod skin-side-up, below. The fish was dense and took a long while to cook completely through, unlike other white fishes I have fried. I kept the temperature at a good medium high heat with olive oil and butter in the pan and friend it about 10 minutes on each side. This was a huge fillet.


We bought half of one Ling Cod and so much more when in Kelowna for one day during our Mara Lake holiday in August 2013.  We had all of the fish we bought cut into pieces, vacuum packed, packed in ice for the trip back to Mara Lake and then froze everything we purchased. before proceeding home to Edmonton. We now have a good amount of gorgeous sustainably fished Canadian West Coast fish in the freezer: Ling Cod, Black Cod (Sable Fish) from the west coast of Vancouver Island fished trapped and bottom long line, Halibut from Haida Gwaii fished bottom long line, Halibut Cheeks from the Pacific North West fished bottom long line, Snapper (Rockfish) from the Pacific North West fished bottom long line, gorgeous ruby red wild Chinook Salmon from the west coast of Vancouver island toll fished (moving lure, hook and line), Sturgeon (and it is aged like beef) from Sechelt raised in sustainable sealed system Aquaculture and a couple of big bags of candied smoked Chinook Salmon from the Pacific North West. I would have more salmon, but Vanja finds it too rich.

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One cannot have pan fried ling cod without butter!.  


Start skin side down in medium high heat with lots of butter.   


Fry as long on the other side. Do not press down on the fish or flip it constantly. One time on each side is the best way to fry fish.


Look at the gorgeous pan fried ling cod in butter! 


I am salivating looking at this. It is a very subtle flavoured fish. It certainly is not fishy, but nor is it “cod like” in flavour. It is not a true cod fish and is dense in texture, with a lovely light fresh flavour. This is a filling fish and makes a substantial meal. Often, fish is a light bite: not ling cod.


It was perfectly paired on this gorgeous summer day with corn on the cob and hand made Pappardelle tossed simply with garlic, arrabbiata seasoning and Olive Oil. Caterina sells at Callingwood Market on Sundays and at City Market on Saturdays. Her pasta is extraordinary. I purchased the spice mixture from her, but any salty spicy seasoning would work.

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I prepared the olive oil, garlic and the seasonings, and simply tossed the pasta in it.

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This is a finger lickin’ good summer treat. I had been planning the fish pick up since we knew we would be heading into Penticton (past Kelowna) for a dinner with Joy Road (the most incredible long table outdoor dinner on God’s Mountain you can imagine) the Thursday of our week at Mara Lake. It is as smart to bring fish home as it is to bring fruit home from here!

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What is your favourite way to prepare fish? Have you tasted Ling Cod? How would you describe the flavour. Let’s get a little conversation going about Canadian fish for those of us that don’t fish. Where do you access yours?


  1. says

    Love Ling Cod. Grew up fishing for it on the west coast. A prairie boy who fishes going to fish for ling cod on the coast requires a metaphor of some kind about a candy shop. They’re meaty, but more delicate than a halibut. Great flavour carrier. Glad you got your hands on some. It’s sold live at a variety of chinese superstores, but I suspect that would taste very different from a cold ocean water catch – have never tried…

    • Valerie Lugonja says

      While we were there, there was a fellow next to me telling me that if I went fishing for what I was buying it would cost well over 5000.00 for the boat, the rental gear, etc. etc. etc. Lucky you!!

  2. melanerpes says

    Whaaaa.? “We have nothing like that here in Edmonton”.

    I was earlier at Billingsgate, where the Newfoundland influences are large, my dear, large. By the time I had talked over all the fish there and chose a lovely fillet of Pickerel I was too exhausted to cook it and just had leftovers. I plan to do it the way it’s done in northern Manitoba.

    Crush a handful or so of saltine crackers (Forget about that poncy pretender Panko, pffhhhht).
    Bash an egg around with a bit of milk not too much
    Salt and pepper in a dish with some flour.

    Dip the fish in the flour, shake her a bit, then in the egg, then in the very finely crushed
    crackers crumbs. Set out on a plate.

    Meanwhile melt butter until just bubbling. When it’s going nicely, add the Pickerel.

    Serve with northen lakeshore in mind. (And it alway is.)

    • Valerie Lugonja says

      Sounds YUMMY! I love pike and pickerel and will have to try your recipe idea. Always choose saltines for my “breadcrumbs” in my meatloaf, too…. but, sadly, Billingsgate cannot hold a candle to Codfathers. At least, it could not the last time I was there a couple of years ago. Have you been to Codfathers? While I appreciate that Billingsgate, Finn’s and Ocean Odyssey all provide we inlanders with seafood, there is no comparison to the options that I found at Codfathers in Kelowna. And, the last few times I have been to Billingsgate, sadly, it was so dirty, and there was such a limited choice of fresh fish, I just couldn’t go back. But, you have me convinced to give in another go!

      • melanerpes says

        I was very focused on the Pickerel Valerie. :) I do wish we could get more of the fish from our northern waters. Nothing better.

        I haven’t been to Codfathers. It does sound wonderful.

  3. says

    I agree with Kevin: meaty, more delicate than halibut and great flavor carrier. I get it fairly often. Thanks for the Salmon Confidential link. I’ll watch the whole movie when it becomes available.

    • Valerie Lugonja says

      The entire movie is available at that link. That is where I watched it. I think I what I wrote also agreed with what Kevin, is saying, too… a chimichurri would be great, and the sauce on the pasta was yummy with it, too…
      Let me know what you think of the movie.

  4. says

    I love ling cod, too! My dad always used to set out ling lines in Francois Lake, in northern B. C. It’s a deep cold lake (almost 1000 feet deep at its deepest point) and the ling are ‘specially delicious from there. My mom always used ling cod for battering for homemade fish and chips because of its firm dense texture. Your post makes my mouth water for that delicious inland fish. And it reminds me of another beauty – the arctic char that my dad also fished for in northern B. C. What a delicious rich fish that is – and it’s especially wonderful still warm from the smokehouse. Mmmm.

    • Valerie Lugonja says

      Oh, my! Your dad was adventurous, too, eh? Did you ever go with him? I didn’t think of battering it, but it would be delicious that way, too. Almost everything is better with batter – heh heh! We also used to get Artic Char from dad’s pal and it was such a delicacy. Your dad smoked his own fish, too? Now you have my acute attention. Do you carry on that tradition, Margaret? If so, I am in. Let’s do some together!

      • Ester says

        I caught a Ling cod near Campbell River and found your website while searching for an easy recipe. As a former prairie girl, I have little experience with fish (other than hating picking out all the bones from the occasional pike a neighbour provided.) This recipe worked so well! Thanks for the advice to leave it alone for 10 minutes or I would flipped, pressed and prodded it! It was delicious. But I was wondering (along with a previous reader) what spices you used. It would have been nice to have a little more flavour…

        • Valerie Lugonja says

          HI Ester,
          Salt, Pepper and Vegeta. That is all I used, but the Vegeta does bring out the flavour for us. The butter, flour with the simple seasonings was scrumptious. Glad you enjoyed it, too!

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