Cooking and Eating Ling Cod

Ling cod, or burbot, is very common in the Yukon’s southern lakes, and is quite easy to catch by jigging, bottom fishing, or using set-lines (which requires a free, separate fishing licence).

These fish are bottom-feeders and are attracted to bits of fish belly on a single hook. They usually swallow the baited hook, so it is nearly impossible to liverelease them. The harvest limit is generous, at 10 per day, with a possession limit of twenty. These fish look different than other Yukon species with skin instead of scales, a round tail, wide flat head and a single barbel (thick whisker) under the lower jaw. Their muscle (meat) arrangement is also different, with a flat tail slab on each side behind a long round muscle that looks like a loin, which runs up to the back of the head.

Once you get past its odd appearance, eating ling cod will win you over for sure. The easiest cooking method is “poor man’s lobster”, where the meat is cut into bite-sized pieces and put in a pot of heavily salted water at a rolling boil. After a couple of minutes, the pieces turn white and are cooked. This method causes the meat to take on the very slight chewiness of lobster or crab. These pieces are then dipped in butter containing enough garlic to suit your taste and eaten as a finger food.

Frying, in both shallow and deep oil, works well using any commercial or homemade batters. Try dredging the pieces in flour, dipping them in an egg/milk mixture, then rolling them in flavoured or plain bread crumbs. Boxed cornflake crumbs are tasty and available, but you can also make your own with a rolling pin. For cooking fish, lard is actually better than oil because it cooks at a higher temperature. The lard or oil used can be strained and kept for future fish cooking. This is an excellent choice of fish for old-style English fish and chips.

Burbot makes an excellent appetizer by taking 2-cm by 4-cm pieces, wrapping them in part-slices of half cooked bacon, secured by a toothpick, and marinating them with zesty Italian salad dressing for a couple of hours. Other salad dressings will also work, depending on your preference. These individually skewered taste treats are then barbequed or broiled for five to six minutes to finish the bacon and cook the fish. On a barbeque these items can sometimes start to come apart because they need to be turned and rotated to be cooked thoroughly. I usually cook these in a vegetable stir-fry metal dish with a pattern of holes on the bottom and sloped sides.

The top-side, round muscles (loins) can be baked, grilled or poached using any recipe suitable for other white-meat fish. 

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