Ketchup And Cod Are The Unlikely Pair You'll Want To Try

Whether it's olive oil drizzled over ice cream or peanut butter slathered on a juicy burger, we're no strangers to out-of-the-box food pairings. It's for this reason that we present to you: ketchup and cod. Despite that it may sound like a head-scratcher, this combination is a pleasant surprise for the palate.

At its most basic, ketchup is a sauce for dipping chicken fingers or drizzling onto a hot dog. However, it can be a flavorful building block for other dishes, too, when paired with the right ingredients. While the smooth and creamy sauce has a primarily sweet profile, ketchup is also quite acidic with a savory backbone, offering nuances of smoke and spice, earthy aromatics, and even a mild funk. As a result, ketchup makes a willing companion alongside all sorts of foods, cod included.

Cod has a pretty mild flavor, similar to other firm and meaty white fish like haddock, tilapia, or white sea bass. Not terribly fishy tasting, cod is somewhat sweet and buttery. It's this level of neutrality that allows cod to effectively be coupled with a vibrantly-flavored, umami-laden, sweet-meets-sour condiment like ketchup. When it's a question of balancing flavor profiles, ketchup pairs well with the white fish because its tart yet honeyed zest imparts complexity to otherwise plain-tasting cod. Yet, the condiment also plays well with the fish's slight sweetness, and is even capable of neutralizing the richness of heartier preparations like battered or fried cod.

Use ketchup as the base ingredient for a delicious sauce

Although it can make for a quick and easy sauce, we're not suggesting that you serve filets of cod with a side of Heinz. Rather than make ketchup the sauce, use it as an ingredient to craft a complex condiment to dress the flaky white fish. That said, any bottle of ketchup is up to the task, but feel free to experiment with flavored options. In fact, you could jazz up the condiment prior to whisking it into a sauce by adding in a squirt of sriracha, sprinkle of garlic powder, dash of liquid smoke, or dollop of chutney.

As for which sauces make a suitable companion for cod, that depends. Keeping ketchup at the forefront, consider classics like a zesty cocktail sauce to accompany fish fritters, or a creamy remoulade-style sauce to serve with pan-fried cod cakes. Alternatively, you can whip up a sweet and sour sauce to drizzle over fish tacos, or craft a barbecue-inspired glaze that's perfect for finishing baked filets. Otherwise, top poached cod or seared steaks with either a béarnaise or a simple butter sauce that's been laced with ketchup for a pop of color and sweet tangy flavor.

Ultimately, the results are sure to wow, regardless of which ketchup-based sauce you concoct. Taking the firm white fish to new heights, ketchup is the humble flavor powerhouse that's worth pairing with cod — trust us, your taste buds will thank you!