Cod (stockfish or okporoko) recipes, uses and health benefits

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Photo of Cod (stockfish or okporoko) recipes, uses and health benefits

Cod is a name used for describing different types of fish belonging to the family Gadidae; they include fish like white fish, Haddock, Pollock, Ling, cusk, monkfish and stockfish, which is the commonest produced from cod. The name Stockfish is derived from loan word from Frisian Stokfish or stickfish, which is believed to describe the wooden racks on which the Stockfish are usually dried on, which after they are dried, they look more like sticks.

Stock fish is a type of fish made from Codfish. It is highly consumed in many countries of the world such as Germany, UK, France, Italy, USA, Spain, Cameroon, and Nigeria. The fish is particularly consumed more in Nigeria such that it is called by different names in different dialects. The Igbos in Nigeria named it as Okporoko which means something that makes hard noise in the pot. Panla by the Yoruba while Calabar named it Ekporoko and it is also called Stoccafissoin most Italian dialects.

Common description of Codfish /stockfish

Stockfish are also known as Cod, they are of three common species of which are cultivated widely for commercial purposes. Cod that belong to the family genus Gadus are described below:

  1. Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua )-The Atlantic codfish are also called codling and haberdine; they are often found in the Atlantic oceans with a common length of 100cm and a maximum length of 200cm, they could live for 25years in the ocean and weighs 96.0kg in size. They thrive in the colder waters, mostly in deeper seas; they are mostly populated in the North Atlantic Ocean.
  2. Pacific Codfish (Gadus macrocephalus )-The Pacific cod thrive more in the eastern and western parts of the Pacific Ocean, they are usually called grey cod and greyfish. They have darker skin and are smaller than the Atlantic cod with a common length of 119cm. they can live up to 18years and weigh up to 22.7kg.
  3. Greenland Codfish (Gadus ogac) -The Greenland cod are commonly found in the Arctic and Northwest Atlantic Ocean, they are usually known as; ogac, uvac and rock cod. These usually live up to 12 years in the ocean with maximum length of 77.0cm.

Method of drying or preservation cod/stockfish

Picture of ried codfish/ stockfish hanging in a market stall
Picture of ried codfish/ stockfish hanging in a market stall


Stockfish are widely cultivated in Norwaydue to their suitable cool-dry weather conditions proven to be the perfect weather for the drying, preservation and probably for exportation of Codfish to other countries of the world. Cod/Stockfish are usually cleaned and dressed immediately after they are captured and beheaded; they are dried as a whole, divided into halves or by just removal of the heads from the body.

The fish are normally tied to wooden racks or sticks from February-May in an open dry air, after which they are brought indoors for another 2-3 months in a well-ventilated and dry location for them to get dried and matured.

The dry wind of the month of February- May with the cool temperature of 0oc are often found favourable for protecting the fish from insectsand prevents the growth of bacteria. Drying is often seen as the best method of preserving cod/stockfish, it helps the fish to stay for a longer period of time. The process by which the fish are dried is known as”hjell” inNorway. Codfish can last for several years after preservation for easy delivery to consumers all over the world.

Codfish (Stockfish) are usually air or wind dried by fishermen on wooden racks in Norway before importing them to other places in the world. The drying process allows Cod to loss about 70- 80% of their moisture with the exception of all other nutrients.

After the purchased of either fresh or dried codfish, you have to keep maintaining the quality and the freshness depending on the time you want to make use of it by storing it in the coolest part of the refrigerator, for the dried codfish, they can be sun dried in a wired basket with lid to prevent maggots and other insects from ruining them. The wired baskets can also be tied close to local fire place for places that have continuous rainfall or high humidity, this is to prolong the quality of the fish and to enable them stay for a longer time.

Selection process ofcod/stock fish

After Cod fish are dried, they are further sorted out into various grades of quality based on their lengths, thickness and weights. The sorting is carried out as laid down standards that have been around for ages in Norway. The three categories at which Cod fish are sorted into include:

  • First class (Prima)
  • Second class (Sekunda)
  • African quality which is the third class (Tipo B), after which they are packed in hessian wrapped to enable fresh air pass through, to further dry the fish. The bales are usually from 45-50kg net.

Codfish or Stock fish are usually mistaken to be clipfish or salted cod, another type of cod which are usually soaked in salt water for 2-3 weeks to salt mature before drying in the sun or an open air.

Importance of Cod/Stockfish

Cod/Stockfish are saltwater whitefish that turns creamy after they are dried. All parts of the fish are essential an edible in many cultures such that no part is wasted but they are rather used for different things. The heads are sold separately after they are dried, while the roe, liver and tongues and some other parts are sold fresh or canned. In Africa, the boneless creamy fleshes are sold at a very high cost, while some parts of the backbones or cutlets are sold separately at a lower price for various delicacies. Cod liver oils are extracted from the liver of cod for diffe

Cod/stockfish (panla) heads being displayed at the market stall
Cod/stockfish (panla) heads being displayed at the market stall


How to prepare or dress dried Codfish/Stockfish

Dried Stockfish (Cod) are usually sold whole, in pieces or just the heads. The stockfish are seen to be harder and tough after they are dried such that market sellers used a small carpentersawin cutting them into medium shapes. Before cooking stockfish, soaked in a warm salted water to enable the removal of dirt or sand after which you boiled or steam for about 15-20 minutes to tenderized and soften both the bones and the flesh and further break into pieces before adding it to the main food.

Common dishes in which Cod/ stockfish is used

Codfish (Stockfish) is a flavourful, thick fleshy fish popular to many. In Nigeria,dried stockfish is usually combined with assorted meat and other ingredients to prepare different dishes like Egusi, AfangEdikan-ikong, ugba na Okporoko, atamaeditanEkpang-Nkukwuo, Banga stew and Ogbono soup. One of my aunties often prepares Afia- efere (Calabar white soup) with stock fish because of the authentic flavour and texture it adds to the soup. Stockfish is treated as a special fish among the Calabars and the Igbos, such that their soups cant be completed without the addition of stockfish in the food. Stockfish are also used in other places like Netherlands to prepare broodje bakeljauw, Vicenza prepares an Italian dish called Baccala alla vicentina also, and Norway prepares bolonese with stockfish while Croatia and Dalmatia use stockfish to prepare a local dish called bakalar .1 kg dried stockfish (Cod or Okporoko) is believed to be equivalent to 5kg of the fresh codfish.

Simple Cod Recipes

  1. Codfish with lemon butter sauce recipe

Ingredients for preparing fresh codfish/stockfish lemon butter sauce

  • 1 Medium size fresh codfish
  • 1 Medium onion
  • Cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Butter
  • 2 Table spoons plain flour to coat the fish
  • I Teaspoon ground garlic
  • 1Table spoon lime or lemon juice
  • 1 Fish seasoning cube
  • 1 Fresh or chilli pepper
  • Handful parsley, scent leaves or any leafy vegetable of your choice.
  • Salt to taste
A tray containing the needed ingredients for the preparation of codfish with lemon butter sauce
A tray containing the needed ingredients for the preparation of codfish with lemon butter sauce


Steps on how to prepare codfish with lemon butter sauce

Fish, well seasoned, coated with flour and in a frying process
Fish, well seasoned, coated with flour and in a frying process


  1. Marinate the codfish with seasoning cube, salt, pepper, garlic and onions. Season the fish with salt and pepper and leave it for 5 minutes to absorb all the ingredients before coating the fish in a plain flour to give them a crispy fries.
    Note:If you are leaving in a place where there are no frozen or fresh cod, mackerel can be substituted for or other flavourful fish can be used. i used mackerel because i could not find fresh codfish except the dried cod.
  2. Heat up vegetable oil and start frying the cut fish. When one side is golden brown, flip over to the other side until all the sides are golden.
Fried fish in a plate
Fried fish in a plate


3. Transfer the fish into a plate and empty the oil from the pan.

Melting butter in a hot pan
Melting butter in a hot pan


4. On a low heat, drop 1 tablespoon butter into the frying pan to melt, add onions, salt, lemon juice, sliced leafy vegetables and pepper. you mayinclude steamed vegetables such as,carrots and green beans in your saucelike i did or just use only the leafy vegetables Stir the content till it turns creamy. Put off heat.

Sauce being fried on a low heat
Sauce being fried on a low heat


5. Pour the sauce over the fish and serve it hot the way it is or with boiled white rice or boiled potatoes.

Vegetables being stirred in the sauce
Vegetables being stirred in the sauce


Lemon butter sauce being served with white boiled rice and fish
Lemon butter sauce being served with white boiled rice and fish


2.Marinade grilled codfish recipe

Ingredients for preparing lemon parsley cod marinade

  • 1 medium fresh cod
  • 4 clove garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 Teaspoon chilli pepper or fresh pepper
  • 1 medium red onions, roughly blended
  • 1 seasoning cube
  • Salt to taste

Steps on how to prepare lemon parsley cod marinade

  1. Combine fish spice, blended onions, pepper, garlic, chopped parsley, lemon juice and salt together and mix till they are well mixed.
  2. Using a sharp kitchen, tear opon the fish and remove the intestine and every other unwanted part. Rinse the fish as a whole in clean water and drain excess water from it.
  3. Season inside of cod with half part of the seasoning and coat the outside of the fish with the remaining ingredient and leave in a bowl and place it inside the refrigerator for an hour for it to absorb the ingredients.
  4. Light up charcoal and increase the fire to a high temperature, deepen a paint brush in a little vegetable oil and brush the top of the grill.
  5. Bring out the marinated fish from the fridge; gently place it over the hot coal and allow one of the sides to cook before flipping over to the second side. Turning occasionally until it is cooked all round with a flaky flesh.
  6. Remove the fish from the grill into a serving dish and drizzle some lemon juice over the fish. Put off the hot coals and serve with salad and any drink of your choice.

3.Cod (stockfish) with Eguzi (melon) soup recipe

Ingredients for preparing egusi soup with cod (stockfish)

  • A whole fresh or dried codfish
  • 1 Cup of grounded Egusi
  • 3 Tbsps. grounded crayfish
  • 15 cl palm oil
  • 3 Scotch bonnet peppers
  • 8 Pieces beef (optional)
  • Smoked catfish (optional)
  • A little amount of water leaves, ugwu, bitter leaves or uziza leaves (optional)
  • 1 Red onion
  • 3 Seasoning cubes
  • Salt to taste
stockfish head and assorted meat
stockfish head and assorted meat


Steps on how to prepare egusi with cod/stockfish

  1. If you are using the dried stockfish, remove bones and soak it with warm water and keep aside for about 30 minutes but if you are using the fresh fish, you can either season and fry the fish with palm oil till they are dried or season and cook it for 10 minutes just the way you would have done with any other fish.
  2. Season the beef with seasoning cubes, pepper, onions, salt, add a little water and cook on a high heat. When the meat is almost soft, add the dried stock fish and cover the pot to boil. You can add water to the meat if the water is dried and also add the smoked cat fish if you are using it at this stage.
codfish head and assorted meat in a cooking process
codfish head and assorted meat in a cooking process


3.When both the meat and the fish are cooked, add 1 cup of water to the pot, crayfish, pepper, the remaining seasoning cube, a little salt with palm oil and allow the content to bubble.

Uziza leaves being shredded into thin slices
Uziza leaves being shredded into thin slices


4. While you are waiting for the soup to boil, wash and shred the water leaves or uziza leaves. If you are going to prepare this soup without the use of leafy vegetables just skip this step and go to the next step.

Egusi being mixed into thick paste
Egusi being mixed into thick paste


  • The grinded egusi should be mixed with a little water to forma thick paste before adding it intothe content.
Egusi being added to the content on heat for it to cook
Egusi being added to the content on heat for it to cook


5. Add the grinded egusi (melon) to the content on heat and allow it to simmer on a medium heat without stirring till the egusi paste forms clumpy chunks.

Uziza leaves being stirred into the soup to give it delicious flavour
Uziza leaves being stirred into the soup to give it delicious flavour


6. Finally, add the shredded vegetables, stir gently and taste for salt. If you are not using vegetable, just go ahead and stir, then leave on heat for just 3 minutes. Put off heat and serve with any moulded starchy food made from corn (tuwo masara), cassava, mashed Arborio/Paella rice (tuwo shinkafa) or anything of your choice.

A well stirred egusi soup with an Irresistible aroma and taste
A well stirred egusi soup with an Irresistible aroma and taste


Egusi soup dished into serving plate
Egusi soup dished into serving plate


Egusi soup made without adding vegetables to it
Egusi soup made without adding vegetables to it


It has come to my notice that few people do not like thier soups with leaves or vegetables being added to it;many soups can be cooked without vegetables in it, and they will still taste nice, for instance, the above picture showshow Egusi soup would look like without vegetables being added to it.Feel free to make it to your own taste.

Egusi soup being served with cassava flour (Alebo)
Egusi soup being served with cassava flour (Alebo)


  • There are uncountable recipes for codfish which may not be mention on this site,you can experiment codfish with anything of your choice such as; baking, preparing it with beans cake, codfish cake or even preparing into codfish (stockfish) pepper soup or codfish casserole and serve as breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Health benefits of codfish/stockfish (Okporoko)

Sea foods are best meat for daily consumption from time to time. They are important foods since they provide high quality protein which can be gotten from dietary supplement, dairy products and other super foods. They help greatly in building healthy immune system in man, support blood circulation system, assist in proper weight management, and provide other nutritional functions needed by the body. Such sea foods include, crabs, periwinkles, shrimps, oyster, crayfish, shark, mackerel, haddock,salmon, tuna, sardinetilapia and codfish among other sea foods.

  1. Stockfish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which is known to be beneficial for proper brain and nervous system function. Codfish has no fibre and carbohydrate content and the fresh codfish has about 72kcal of energy per100g.
  2. Codfish is high in Vitamin D, it serve as a great meal for children, since vitamin D has been proven to prevent rickets (bone weaknesses) in children or osteomalacia in adults and other symptoms ofvitamin D deficiency.
  3. Codfish contains vitamin B12 and selenium which are helpful in preventing of colon cancer; this is made possible by not allowing toxic substances from other foods and cancer causing chemicals released by gut bacteria to come in contact with the colon cells.
  4. Stock fish is packed with vitamin, lean protein, calcium, iron, and is low in calories and fats; it is highly nutritious such that after it has been dried, the nutrients are still reserved in it even in more concentrated form rather than being removed.
  5. Contain Vitamin B6 and B12 which are both needed for lowering of homocyteine level, that is to say that the vitamins helps to keep your heart healthy by remove excess amino acid from it, and normalised the development of red blood cell.
  6. A diet rich in omega 3 fats found in cold water fish like Cod is known to reduce blood pressure and prevents excess fatty substances in the arteries and in turn lower cholesterol level in the blood.
  7. It is rich in Vitamin A and D. Vitamin A is an essential antioxidant that helps to lower oxidative stress and inflammation levels and in turn support healthy bone, proper night vision and cellular growth. While vitamin D is a fat soluble antioxidant that helps in calcium absorption, it also helps to maintain proper brain function.
  8. Stockfish has an anti-inflammatory property and omega-3 fatty acids which is helpful in improving cognitive function of the brain and aids in memory improvement.
  9. Codfish has the ability to keep one full or it has satiating ability since it has a thick flavourful flesh, it may help one to lose or gain weight while helping to limit the calorie intake for better weight management. Fresh or frozen codfish has less calories, it is healthier to prepare it by grilling, baking or poaching.

Nutritional value and calories of codfish diet per 1 kilogram

Cod fish is rich in the following diets:

The fresh or frozen codfish contains calories of about 720kcal and 159g of protein while the dried Codfish contains the following:

  • Protein= 800g
  • Calories= 342kcal
  • Fat= 20g
  • Vitamin A= 1.5
  • Vitamin B1= 1.0mg
  • Vitamin B2= 1.2mg
  • Vitamin B6= 1.5mg
  • Vitamin B12= 2.0g
  • Calcium= 600mg
  • Sodium= 5000mg
  • Potassium= 15000mg
  • Iron= 50mg
  • Saturated fat= 4g
  • Monounsaturated fat= 2g
  • Polyunsaturated fat= 8g
  • Fibre= 0g
  • Carbohydrate= 0g

The values above are based on 1 kilogram of both fresh and dried codfish/stockfish, the nutrients could be less or more depending on your unit of measurement.

Cod liver oil as the name implies is a very important oil, extracted from the liver of a fish known as Cod fish from the Gadidae genus. Cod liver oil is made into liquid form and into capsules and it serve as a nutritional supplement. Cod liver oil was initially extracted in a traditional method of fermentation; this was done by filling a wooden barrel with fresh codfish livers and seawater and allowing the mixture to ferment. The fermentation was usually carried out for a period of 1 year to enable it produce more vitamins and create digestibility ability, which was considered as the best method even till today. Now a day, a modern method has been considered, Cod liver oil is usually extracted by steaming the whole codfish body tissues and exertion of pressure before removing the cod oil. Apart from codfish, there are other fish like salmon and sardine which supplies fish oil for other uses with lot of benefits.

Cod liver oil Benefits

Cod liver oil is considered as an essential marine oil that is high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and vitamin D.

  1. Omega-3 fatty acids contain decosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which are both known to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and ischemic stroke. Hence, it has a lot of healing effects; it helps to reduce triglyceride level in the blood, supports regular heartbeat, lowers inflammation and reduces the occurrence of atherosclerosis since it contains a polyunsaturated fat in form of omega-3.
  2. Cod liver oil is a natural source of Vitamin A and D. Vitamin A is an essential antioxidant that
  3. helps to lower oxidative stress and inflammation levels and in turn supports healthy bone, proper night vision, cellular growth. While vitamin D is a fat soluble antioxidant that helps in calcium absorption, it also helps to maintain proper brain function. Vitamin D contains anti-proliferative and a proapoptotic property which is said to be essential in combating breast cancer and in turn prevents breast tumours.
  4. Since some people are allergic to sea foods, Cod liver oil could serve as a substitute for them
  5. Cod liver oil is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acid, vitamin B6 and B12 and these are needed for slowing down homocysteine levels since the homocysteine can directly cause damage to the blood vessels. High level of homocysteine is associated with the risk of heart attack, stroke and osteoporosis. A continuous consumption of cod liver oil can help to prevent the re-occurrence of heart attacks, assuming one had it before.
  6. Both adults and children can benefit from cod liver oil since it contains inflammatory properties that play a vital role in cardiovascular, immune health, hormonal and neurological health
  7. Cod liver oil is said to be useful in lowering of a type of dangerous blood fat known as triglycerides. The higher the triglyceride level, the higher the cholesterol which is harmful and can lead to a more risky heart disease.
  8. According to research, Codfish has the ability to prevent a particular cancer caused by metastasis which is caused by high consumption of omega-6 fatty acids. Therefore, cod liver oil could help to prevent breast and colon cancer and also helps to prevent cachexia a type of cancer that brings about weight loss.
  9. Cod liver oil contains important nutrients such as vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids which are known to reduce inflammation, prevent blood clothing, support brain function and prevents depression. Cod liver oil has since been used to reduce swellings and other ill conditions like arthritis, joints pain, rheumatism and muscle pull since it contains inflammatory properties.
  10. Aside codfish, omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained from nuts and vegetables such as walnut, flaxseeds canola and soybean oil. This type of omega-3 fatty acids gotten from plants is called alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). This serves the same purpose like that of cod liver oil.
  11. Proper consumption of cod liver oil by children could help prevent cold and constant cough. Hence, it can help to improve unhealthy hair in both adults and kids if used properly.

Cod liver oil side effects

Cod liver just as it has a lot of benefits; it has little side effects especially when it is being over dosed and without a doctor or pharmacist prescriptions.

  1. Generally, the liver of the cod fish plays an important role in the fish such as filtering different substances in the body of the fish. One of the roles of codfish include, filtering different substances in the body. Research has shown that it may contain certain environmental contaminants like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, mercury and other heavy metals. Despite the purification that has been carried out to subdue this pollutants, a small percentage is still found to be present in the fish oil. In spite of this, their health benefits still by far outweigh any potential risk. Therefore, too be on the safer side, it will be better to seek medical advice before consuming this oil.
  2. One of the side effects of cod liver oil to some people is that; it could cause heartburn, watery stool, belching, nose bleeds and bad breath. For instance, forme, it makes me havenausea- feeling of wanting to throw up which may lead to fast heart beat and could last for about an hour. Addingcod liver oil toother foods like fruits or vegetables smoothie, squeezed lemon juice or yoghurt could help reduce some of these effects and supress the fishy odour.
  3. Cod liver oil is known to reduce high blood pressure; its good to know that in the process of helping to reduce blood pressure, it can lead to low blood pressure especially when combining it with other drugs for high blood pressure, which is not safe. Medical consultation would be fine for those needing help for high blood pressure treatment.
  4. Cod liver oil contains high amount of Vitamin A. vitamin A can be converted as fat in the body which can lead to weight gain if consumed at high amount.
  5. Consumption of cod liver oil at high amount during pregnancy can lead to increased risk gestational hypertension. Pregnant women should make proper consultation from their Doctors before consuming cod liver supplements as it can lead to birth defects such as deformity of the eyes, heart and skull of the unborn baby due to high content of mercury and other toxins.
  6. Cod liver oil comes in liquid and in capsule form, before taking any dietary supplement, always read the dosing guidelines on the product label, or consult a medical personnel to put you through on how to go about this, just to be on the safer side.