Traditional recipes

What is Scrod?

What is Scrod?

It’s on plenty of menus, but it’s not any specific fish

When you see scrod on a menu, it's most likely just cod.

Throughout the Northeastern coast of the United States and into Canada, hundreds or thousands of menus feature a rather confounding food item: scrod, also sometimes called schrod. If you order it, you’ll be served a plate bearing a decent-tasting piece of white fish, but there’s no extant fish that’s named a scrod. So what is it exactly, and where did it come from?

First of all, scrod is more often than not just young cod, 2.5 pounds or less, but it can also be haddock or any other young whitefish. The name also refers to the preparation: it’s always split and deboned. The name for this particular preparation of fish is credited to chefs at Boston’s famed Parker House Hotel, also the birthplace of Parker House rolls, but nobody really knows what the dish’s origins are.

There are several possible etymologies, ranging from the Dutch schrood, meaning “a piece cut off” to the Norwegian skrei, which is derived from an Old Norse word meaning “to wander.” Skrei is also the name of a variety of cod that’s popular in Norway and might have been brought over to England by the Vikings, and over the years the word morphed into scrod.

That’s probably more than you ever wanted to know about this venerable old dish, but now you know: when you see scrod on a menu, it’s most likely just young, boneless cod.

What is Scrod? - Recipes

In a mixing bowl add chopped scallops, bread crumbs, chopped garlic, egg, salt and pepper. Mix completely so the egg moistens all the dry ingredients. Separate the mixture into 4 equal portions and roll each portion into a ball.

On a baking sheet, lay out the scrod fillets. Place the ball of seafood bread crumbs in the middle of each fillet, and wrap the thinnest end up and over the ball. Then roll the rest around the stuffing so the entire ball is wrapped in the fish fillet. Use toothpicks to secure the rolled fish so it will bake in the rolled position.

Next take 2 slices of prosciutto and lay them over the top of each fillet and wrap and tuck under the roll. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Remove toothpicks. [Note from Chef John: Please remember to count the number of toothpicks you use so that you can be sure you have removed ALL of them before serving!]

For the Newburg Sauce: Mix the butter and flour together to make a paste. Heat a sauce pan to medium heat and add the butter and flour, whisking continuously. Once butter melts and begins to bubble slowly, turn heat to low and, continuously whisking, add in the sherry, then the cream, then the salt and paprika. Remove from heat, add the parmesan cheese and serve over the baked stuffed scrod.

Tracy’s Wine Recommendation: This dish would work very well with a moderately oaked French chardonnay. Look for a wine with enough body to stand up to the stuffing and the sauce, yet with a good dose of acidity to balance the rich flavors. Example: 2005 Jean Thevenet Macon Pierreclos ($18.99).

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Marge, I haven’t tried this yet but it looks easy enough for a “reluctant cook” like me as well as healthful. I’ve never made cod, but am willing to try it. Thanks for the tip on reducing the salt. I buy canned tomatoes without salt as it is. Would it spoil the dish if I used !/4 teaspoon salt instead of the half? Same question if I used a little more wine. What kind of white wine do you recommend? Dry, I assume, but what kind of dry?

Looking forward to your answer because I’m getting sick of flounder and salmon (which is surprising to me since I love salmon)
Regards, Tervia

Hi Tervia–
You absolutely can cut back to 1/4 teaspoon salt. In fact, you can use no added salt, and people can salt at the table as they wish.
Here is a good trick to keep in mind. When you want to reduce the salt in the recipe, sometimes the dish needs that little perk– and you can get it from acid, such as vinegar, wine or citrus. But sometimes, if the dish already has acid in it, and you don’t want it to taste too acidic, you can use lemon zest instead of juice. The zest will perk up the flavors with out making it taste too sour or tart (too acidic). You can use lemon, lime or orange zest although orange tend to be a more assertive flavor). When you zest a lemon, zest more than you need, and put the extra in a little plastic bag in the freezer. You have it on hand for anytime you think something needs a little more perkiness.
I am not sure more wine would do much to improve this dish…and I would use Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.
Let me know how it turns out!

Baked Scrod

A classic New England favorite, our baked scrod is flaky, light, and perfectly seasoned.

The Backstory: This simple recipe for Baked Scrod can be adopted for most fish dishes. Whenever I visit my daughter and her family in Andover, Massachusetts, we usually have dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Grassfields. Being a creature of habit, I always order the same thing time and time again. I never even bother to look at the menu. Their baked scrod is absolutely the best. It doesn’t matter if I order it baked or stuffed, I am never disappointed. My side dish is usually rice, but it also comes with a variety of choices. Doesn’t matter what you choose everything is prepared to perfection. This wonderful piece of fish is just so tasty, flaky, light and flavorful. I could eat it just about every night. Since this is not going to happen, I’ve learned to prepare this at home. This is pure goodness on a plate. More of the Backstory after the recipe…

Recipe Summary

  • 1 ½ pounds fresh or frozen scrod fillets, about 1 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Snipped parsley
  • Lemon wedges
  • Hot boiled potatoes (optional)

Thaw fish fillets, if frozen. Place in a single layer on greased rack of an unheated broiler pan. Tuck under any thin edges to make even thickness.

Combine butter and lemon juice brush over fillets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Broil fish 4 inches from the heat for 10 to 12 minutes or just until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, brushing occasionally with lemon-butter mixture. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges. If desired, serve with hot boiled potatoes. Makes 6 servings.

Boston Scrod

Scrod or schrod is a small cod or haddock, and sometimes other whitefish, used as food. It is usually served as a fillet, though formerly it was often split instead.

In the wholesale fish business, scrod is the smallest weight category of the major white fish. From smallest to largest, the categories are: scrod, market, large, and whale. In the U.S., scrod haddock or cusk weighs 1.5-3 lbs. scrod cod 1.5-2.5 lbs. and scrod pollock 1.5-4 lbs. The exact weight categories are somewhat different in Canada.

Scrod is common in many coastal New England and Atlantic Canadian fish markets and restaurants, although using the name ‘scrod’ without the species is in principle mislabeling.

Historically, scrod was simply a small cod or haddock, “too small to swallow a bait” or “too small to be filleted”, which was usually prepared by being split and lightly salted (“corned”), and sometimes quickly air-dried. They were generally broiled and served with butter. Starting in the mid-20th century, it came to mean a small haddock or cod that is filleted or split.


  • Grease pan.
  • Baste both sides of fish with melted margarine.
  • Season both sides with salt and pepper and garlic powder
  • Mix bread crumbs with parmesan cheese. Sprinkle mixture on fish., and dot with margarine.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake 12-14 minutes. Put under broiler.

My frig gets a lot of use!

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Origin Of Scrod

In many Boston restaurants today, one can find Scrod on the menu. Is scrod cod or is it haddock? Scrod or Schrod, is actually both. For generations, the origin of the term scrod has been widely debated.

The earliest cook book that was researched was The American Matron or, Practical and Scientific Cookery by "A House Keeper" (1851). The Broiled Scrod recipe states: "Take a small cod and split it, or the tail of a large one sprinkle it with salt, and it remain overnight. In the morning, wash off the salt, and wipe it dry. Rub a little lard over the grid-iron, and put on the fish, skin side down, and let it broil gently for one half hour, then turn it over, to brown the other side. When served, rub a little butter and a little pepper over it. Serve hot."

According to The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook by Fannie Merritt Farmer (1921), the definition of scrod is: "A young cod, split down the back, and backbone removed, except a small portion near the tail, is called scrod. Scrod are always broiled, spread with butter, and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Haddock is also dressed."

What is the true origin of scrod? Scrod may have derived from the obsolete Dutch word "scrood," which meant "small cut off pieces." In the October 16, 1841 issue of Spirit Of Times, a presumed sailor was served dried scrod. If a large cod was cut up into many smaller pieces, and then dried and salted, such a serving could be considered a "piece cut off."

Contradicting the above assertion, there are 1850s references that state scrod was transported as cargo on ships, implying that the size of a single fish may have given it the attribution as scrod.

In English, referring to A Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster (1857), "scrag" is defined as "Something thin or lean with roughness. A raw-boned person is called a scrag but the word is vulgar." Scrag was derived from the Dutch word "scraghe" which meant anything "thin or lean." Similarly, the English word "scrimp" is defined as "To contract to shorten to make too small or short to limit or straighten as to scrimp the pattern of a coat. New England. [Various dialects in New England] a. Short scanty." Thus, a scrimp is something small. The average cod caught in the 1850s was likely around ten pounds in weight, while a "scrod" weighs under three pounds.

Complicating things even further, the obsolete English word scraw was possibly still in use, which had derived from the Gaelic word "sgrath," and meant: "a thin sod, (divot) what covers the kiln of grain — scum rind." In the 1830s in Ireland, scrawed meant sod placed somewhere, as a "a scrawed thatched roof." The outer skin of a cod is a greenish brown which is cut, while noting that a large number of Irish people emigrated to Boston in the 1850s, of which many presumably became fishermen.

Scraw also existed in the Cornish language, and represented a method of cooking. According to Notes and Queries: A Method of Inter-communication, Volume 10 (1854): "Fish are 'scrawed' when they are prepared in a particular way for cooking. This scrawing consists in cutting them flatly open and then slightly powdering them with salt and sometimes with pepper. They are then exposed to the sun and air, that as much as possible of the moisture may be dried up. In this state they are roasted over a clear burning coal or wood fire. Thus prepared and smeared over with a little butter they are said to be scrawed." In the book Life of Daniel Webster, Volume II, by George Ticknor Curtis, p.664 (1871), it states: [Webster's friend] liked cod fish best—he liked to have them scrawed—to have them split open, corned a little over night, and broiled for breakfast."

Scrod also appears to have been used in a vulgar manner in describing a young woman. In Newfoundland and St. Johns, New Brunswick, there are newspaper references to "scrod-girls" in the early 1840s, very likely offensive to women [a young fish kept overnight.].

Scrood (cut-off), scrag (lean), scrimp (small), or scraw (outer surface, or cut down middle) plus cod can all be combined to derive "scrod." The following is a quick summary:

  • Scrood - Not all cod were merely "cut up pieces" of fish, as newspapers reported scrod as cargo in the 1850s.
  • Scraghe or Scrag - A 3 pound cod is not lean and not rough, it is just much smaller than an average cod.
  • Scrimp - Scrimp could be used as an adjective to mean short and scanty, such as "what a scrimp that cod was" or "what a scrimpy cod."
  • Scraw (Gaelic) - The word was not in use anymore in English by the 1850s according to Webster's Dictionary (1857). In Gaelic, scrawing meant to place sod somewhere.
  • Scraw (Cornish) - Described as a method of preparing and cooking a fish that matches an 1851 cook book recipe labeled "broiled scrod." There are other references to splitting fish and then drying them to be broiled later (scrawing). Also, the January 21, 1846 Boston Atlas has an advertisement for dried apples, "scrawed into rum barrels."

This editor deduces that the word Scrod derived from the combination of Cornish Scrawed + Cod.

Note that Schrood was also a German word (1750s) that meant to lay flat and slice. Scraw likely derived from obscure German.

An insightful an interesting article was published in the September 29th 1901 issue of the Boston Globe about the origin of scrod. Local Fishermen and Fish Men met around a breakfast table and debated the origin of scrod:

The first interview was with a couple of young men known to have had considerable association with the briny mighty, as amateur yachtsmen and fishermen.

"Scrod," replied one, "is a small fish that is chock full of bones."

"You're completely off, my boy," chimed in the second. "To be sure, at Crescent beach they served a little fish no bigger than a perch, and just as full of bones, for scrod but the real thing is a large flaky fish having absolutely no bones at all."

A native of Penobscot bay, on the Maine coast, who was interrupted in the middle of a recital of how he recently caught over 100 pounds of cod and haddock in an eight hour day, declared that he had never heard of the word scrod mentioned among Maine fishermen, or anywhere else, excepting at the banquet board. He had not the remotest idea what scrod is or where it comes from.

What is evidently a cape Cod interpretation of the term was obtained from a native of the sand dunes that were once the stamping grounds of the pilgrims, and one who has lived all his days in the atmosphere redolent of the odor of the deep sea fish. "A scrod," said he, without a moment's hesitation, "is a flounder prepared for the broiler. The fish is split in two thin layers, just as a shoemaker would split a piece soleleather the bones are deftly extracted and then it has cease to be flounder and ranks as scrod."

The next authority consulted is a veteran of many a voyage to foreign climes, who was presumed to know some of the mysteries of the deep, as his published stories of life on the ocean wave have thrilled the blood of many American youth.

He wasn't phased for a moment by the question, but answered with the nonchalance of a man who believes what he is talking about: "Why scrod is a measly little soft and flabby fish that is just about no good for any earthy use."

"I never saw one myself. You don't find them in the market very often, but the codfishermen bring them in once in awhile, like such other freaks as sculpins and dogfish.

"There used to be a little bit of an insignificant tugboat in the harbor that was universally known as the Scrod. That will give you a very good idea of the peculiar characteristics of the fish.

A retired fisherman who learned his business off the Irish coast, 70 years ago, and who for 25 years deprived the waters of Massachusetts bay of their finny treasures for the Boston market, smiled indulgently when requested to settle the point.

This was his explanation: "Anything under three pounds that is ordinarily to be found in the catch of the deep sea fisherman is called scrod—that is, anything excepting mackerel."

A large wholesale fish establishment on T wharf was next invaded, and a man growing gray in the business was interrogated.

"What is scrod?" he repeated musingly. "Well we call codfish, say, under 2 1/2 pounds, scrod. I believe there is a specific kind of fish by that name, but I never came across one yet."

Then accosting another veteran who had just entered the office, he asked: "Bill, is there a distinct variety of fish called scrod?"

Bill rubbed his unshaved chin for a moment and then replied: "No, scrod is anything of the cod, hake or haddock variety, under two or three pounds."

At this stage of the investigation it had become apparent that the term scrod had a decided elasticity of interpretation among the fishermen, as well as with those whose acquaintance with the article goes no farther than an appreciation of its excellence upon the menu, yet it seemed to be fairly clear that a codfish of three pounds or less is a scrod.

The next expression of opinion was from one of the best known retail fish dealers in Boston, who remarked, with the air of a man who is disgusted with the ignorance prevailing about him, "The word scrod simply indicates a certain way of dressing and cooking a codfish."

"That is scrod there," he added, pointing toward a big platter on which were displayed half a dozen cod, perhaps 1/2 inches long and of two pounds weight, split open and flattened out, exactly like an old-fashioned salt fish, save that all bones had been carefully removed.

From a retailer in Quincy market, who does a large hotel and family trade, it was learned that scrod is a cod or haddock of less than three pounds, which that particular establishment does not handle. The kind of scrod they deal in is ordinary market cod or haddock between four and eight pounds which has been "scrodded" by the manner it is split open and dressed. "Even a 50 pound fish is a scrod, if dressed in a certain way," declared the salesman.

He added, "it is astonishing how many people ask for scrod, without knowing what it is. We ask them, "Cod or haddock?" They insist that they want scrod. We explain that it's all in the dressing, and they are perfectly satisfied with cod or haddock then."

The nestor of hotel head waiters in Boston, when asked to contribute to the scrod symposium, thought long and deeply, and even then said "A scrod is a codfish not over four pounds, split open down the back, cleaned and deprived of all bones, and then broiled. The flesh of a fish larger than four pounds would be too thick to broil well.

Upon being informed that a dictionary definition of scrod is a young cod for boiling of broiling, he said, "I never heard of boiled scrod. I about never think of asking the customer he wished it boiled or broiled. It must be broiled or it can't be scrod. If boiled, the fish is simply boiled cod, no matter how small it may be."

This veteran's recipe for the preparation and cooking of scrod is as follows: Having selected a fish of the right size, remove the head and tail, split open the entire length and remove the bones, then dip it in melted butter and afterward in crumbs. It is then ready for the broiler, and should be cooked mainly on the flesh side. If the fish is small enough it can be placed on the broiler whole. Otherwise it can be cut in two or more sections.

The steward of the same hotel added a bit of interesting if not illuminating information when he explained that the hotel does not buy scrod, as such, it simply purchases codfish of assorted sizes, the smaller ones, say up to four pounds, being split for broiling or "scrodded," as the cooks called it, while the larger ones are prepared for frying or boiling, or for steak, as the case may be.

Sometimes, he added, if the smaller fish don't hold out, a larger one will be selected, perhaps a five or six pounder, a section of the rear portion near the rest of the fish, being cut off for broiling. Thus, the body of a fish may go to the table as market cod, but his tail will become scrod.

Several hotel cooks of the highest class agreed that scrod, as they understand it, implies the fish that has been either broiled or prepared for broiling. And those who have worked in New York or other cites, agreed that they never heard the word till they came to Boston.

A former assistant steward of one of the leading hotels, now a successful restaurateur, described the scrod of the cuisine as simply the tall portion of an ordinary, codfish broiled.

"I'll tell you another little secret," he added.

"Fillet of sole, a choice dish among gourmets at high-class restaurants, is in this country merely a thin strip of cod or flounder, rolled up tightly and fastened with a skewer and then roasted. Sole is a fish found in the English markets."

It is exceedingly curious that, in these days of exhaustive cook books, not one of the leading authorities of that kind has any mention of scrod, not even the latest publication, which is in two volumes, each one of them as large as an unabridged dictionary.

It cannot be denied that authorities on the subject are numerous enough, yet if, having consulted the vailed views here collated, the reader can tell what scrod is, he deserves to be congratulated."


The term "scrod" is first attested in 1841. It is from the Anglo-Cornish dialect word scraw: [4]

Fish are scrawed when they are prepared in a particular way before cooking. This scrawing consists in cutting them flatly open and then slightly powdering them with salt and sometimes with pepper. They are then exposed to the sun or air, that as much as possible of the moisture may be dried up. In this state they are roasted over a clear burning coal or wood fire. Thus prepared and smeared over with a little butter they are said to be 'scrawed'. [5]

A similar meaning is found in Scots scrae: "fish dried in the sun without being salted", attested in 1806. [6]

This corresponds to its earliest documented meaning in American English: "a young or small cod fish, split and salted for cooking". [3]

Another theory derives it from the Dutch schrood, from Middle Dutch schrode 'a piece cut off', that is, cut up for drying or cooking. [7] There is a rare variant escrod. [8]

Folklore Edit

The term has been credited to the Parker House Hotel in Boston, but this is not possible, as the hotel postdates the earliest citations by a decade. [9]

The term has attracted a number of jocular false etymologies. [10] One treats it as short for the "Sacred Cod" carving that hangs in the Boston State House." [11] Various acronyms have been suggested, though acronyms were hardly ever used in the past: [12] "seaman’s catch received on deck," [11] supposedly any whitefish of the day [ citation needed ] for "small cod remaining on dock" "select catch retrieved on [the] day." [ citation needed ]

Scrod was apparently often used to mean simply fresh fish of the day, since menus were made up before the day's catch was brought in. [ citation needed ]

Broiled Scrod
A young cod, split down the back, and backbone removed, except a small portion near the tail, is called a scrod. Scrod are always broiled, spread with butter, and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Haddock is also so dressed.

Historically, scrod was as much a method of preparation as a kind of fish. An 1851 recipe calls for the fish to be salted and left overnight, then broiled, skin side down first. [14]

Today, scrod is cooked in a variety of ways, including frying or broiling, after splitting or filleting for example, "in famous Boston restaurants, scrod is simply a tail piece of filleted haddock or cod dipped in oil, then bread crumbs and broiled [sic] in a moderate oven" (1949). [15] [16]

As of the early years of the new millennium, scrod continues as a staple in many coastal New England and Atlantic Canadian fish markets and restaurants. [ citation needed ]

Seth Peterson, a boatman, fisherman, and friend of Daniel Webster, described the 19th century orator and statesman (per biographer George Curtis) as having greatly enjoyed scrawed cod:

He loved codfish best—he liked to have them scrawed—to have them split open, corned a little over night, and broiled for breakfast. I've fixed him more than a thousand. [17]

"Scrod" has been used as a facetious past participle of the word "screw," slang for having sexual intercourse, since at least the 1960s, in jokes like "I got scrod in Boston." [18] [19]

In the rap song, "Chiropracter" by rappers Ab$ Chester and Strong John, Chester mentions his possession of a vast inventory of poultry, meat, and seafood, including the aforementioned scrod. The verse goes:

Sicilian-Style Baked Cod Recipe | Seriously Italian

Save your sauté, and no deep frying, thank you—when I'm cooking fish at home, I like to do it in a hot oven. It is a purely nostalgic impulse. My mother's kitchen churned out a fish dinner on every meatless Friday of my childhood, and yes, they were meatless all year round just in case God really does prefer it that way. After getting over my disappointment at being deprived of the same Mrs. Paul's frozen fish sticks that my friends were being served, I grew to love her simple recipe of baked fish fillets with well-seasoned breadcrumbs and some good olive oil.

Pairing this method with the bright, vibrant flavors of Sicily is the winning combination in this version of the Friday night special. There's sweetness from the red onion complimented by plenty of fresh mint and basil, a sour note from a shot of vinegar, and a squirt of anchovy paste to add the salty intensity of the sea. Olives bring a final touch of richness to the plate.

This recipe is for firm, meaty, white fish. I used cod, but you can sub a variety of your favorites. Look for anything with the texture needed to stand up to those big flavors, such as scrod, haddock, hake, or halibut sea bass, or snapper work well too.

Season carefully at each stage of preparation both the anchovy and olives will add salt to the flavor of the finished dish. Remember the rule for cooking fish: no more than 10 minutes per inch. To handle the thinner, flat ends of the fillet, I trim and then pile them on top of each other to create a complete portion that matches the thickness of the center.

This is exactly the kind of dish you will find at the seaside trattorie that dot the Sicilian coastline—simple, satisfying, and big on flavor. It is quickly becoming one of my go-to favorites for an easy weeknight supper. I love the way that all the ingredients add their bright notes to the liquid in the pan to make a bready, flavor-packed sauce. Most recently I paired it with julienned zucchini, sautéed with garlic and fresh thyme and buttered red bliss potatoes.


  • Serving Size: 1 (102.3 g)
  • Calories 148.6
  • Total Fat - 9.4 g
  • Saturated Fat - 1.3 g
  • Cholesterol - 50.4 mg
  • Sodium - 198.9 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate - 0 g
  • Dietary Fiber - 0 g
  • Sugars - 0 g
  • Protein - 15.2 g
  • Calcium - 10.4 mg
  • Iron - 0.2 mg
  • Vitamin C - 0 mg
  • Thiamin - 0 mg

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Step 2

Cover the bottom of a pyrex casserole dish with olive oil and chopped onion. Salt and pepper the fish on both sides to taste.

Step 3

Season skinless side of fish with sprinkling of garlic powder. Pile stuffing "ForeverMama's Stuffing for Fish, Shrimp or Mushrooms" over fish evenly, pressing stuffing mixture carefully to adhere.

Step 4

Place casserole into hot oven and bake for 15 minutes, being careful not to over-bake so it won't be dry. Pronto, it is ready to serve.