I covered the ins and outs of lingcod fishing a few weeks back, so I’ll use this opportunity to provide fair warning that the season is almost upon us. The fishery is closed AT LEAST the first three months of the year, depending on your region, but it’s coming quickly. Be sure to check your local 2023 regulations and make certain that you’re prepared to identify your catches. As anglers, it is our responsibility to know what we can catch, when we can catch them, and how many we can keep. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is only enforcing what we should already know. Regulations are constantly changing, so please do take the time to review online at: https://wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations.
We are officially in the heart of our cold season and a lot of our attention is about to focus on bottom fishing. Right now we can keep whitefish and sculpin, among a few other edible bottom species, but that’s about it unless you live near the border of Northern Baja (even if you don’t, it’s worth a quick trip across the border to get your fill until your local fishery opens up the season!). But it’s never too early to figure out what you’re going to cook once you can catch your target species… and without waste.
My recipes have typically included mentions and examples of “no waste” cooking where it’s encouraged to use the entire fish. In my last lingcod recipe, I said the lingcod has a relatively mild taste with a dense texture, so it does well in soups, chowders, pot pies and sandwiches. But when we talk about no-waste cooking, it’ll have to be taken a step further. This was a lingcod I got while at my mom’s near Half Moon Bay – hence the hodgepodge of random pantry items. She’s a minimalist, so I was lucky to even find the ingredients she had. I used the fillets for sandwiches, the head and bones for fish stock, and here I broiled the collars and belly for a sweet/salty/acidic/rich appetizer.
I’ve been encouraging creativity from the beginning, so if you want to make something but don’t have the right ingredients – substitute! Can’t find the yellowtail for Hamachi Kama? Use lingcod collars. Aren’t able to track down black cod? Use lingcod belly. Cook outside the box; you just may surprise yourself. Start with this family style appetizer and see what inspires you from there.
Recipe: Ling Wings & Broiled Cod Belly