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Curried Haddock/Cod – Fresh Fish is Key

Haddock Curry Tomato Sauce-12

Fresh fish, there is nothing like it. Living on the Maine coast fresh catch is available on a regular basis. You can only imagine the withdrawal being in landlocked Berlin. Finding fish that is dayboat fresh and came in that morning was tough. But I did it. In Pankow, a neighborhood of Berlin that we are just beginning to explore, I happened to stroll by Jones Fischladen. A real Fishmonger. I went in, looked at the fish, and that is the key word, I LOOKED at the fish. I did not SMELL fish wafting at me as I walked through the door. Fresh fish does not emit a strong fish smell. Period. If fish smells stench-fishy, then it is not fresh. Period, again. Some higher fat fish will have a little bit of an oily fish scent. This is normal, but if it has a stench, or is really off-putting…you get the drift.

How do you know if the fish is fresh?

You ask the Fishmonger what came in that day. There are key people in your food life with whom to count amongst your friends; the Fishmonger is at the top of the list along with the Butcher and the Cheesemonger. When you have established the relationship, you will get to know what came in when and how to plan a menu accordingly.

There are times I have my heart set on a certain fish, but fresh eclipses plan A. Planning a dinner party around fish? Ask the Fishmonger what will be coming in that day or buy fish that has come in on a particular day and take it home and freeze it. Most fish freezes very nicely as long as it is properly packed to protect against freezer burn.

Two ways to freeze fish:

1.Wrapped in a freezer bag and newspaper.
2. Vacuum sealed. This is my favored method. Read more about how to use a vacuum sealer.

Two ways to defrost fish:

1.In below 40°F/4.5°C water.
2. In the fridge.

Fish Basics

Some know fish inside and out and others are still learning. Part of the learning curve is understanding the difference between freshwater and saltwater fish. The type of water change the flavor and texture of the fish, and if the fish is oily, fatty or lean can have a big impact on the outcome as well. In other words, not all fish is created equal. Think about what kind of a flavor you want, what you are seasoning the fish with, and what it might be paired with as far as side dishes go.

When buying fish note if it is fresh, frozen and flash frozen (sometimes called IQF – instant quick freeze). A lot of fish found in the freezer section is flash frozen which means it more than likely was frozen out at sea – and may be even fresher than fresh fish! Not to say that you should not go with fresh fish when possible.

Freshwater Fish vs Saltwater Fish

Freshwater Fish – The fish comes from a lake, pond or stream that is under .05% salinity. Fish such as Trout (pinkish-orange in color), Bream, and Catfish (both white and a bit flaky), tend to be the better ones known. There are many local varieties as well. These fish tend to be less oily, so less “fishy” in flavor. If you are looking for something on the lighter fish side, these might be ones to try.

Saltwater Fish – Fish that live in the ocean, hence colder water temperatures than fresh water (not always, but often), and higher salt concentrates have very different flavor than freshwater ones. Some have higher fat contents such as Salmon. Higher fat imparts higher flavor (like cooking with butter or oil). As a result the flavor can be a bit on the stronger side, and a side effect when not stored properly or is too old, gives off a fishy stench. Note there is a vast different between a light fish smell and a stench. Other milder tasting saltwater fish are Dover Sole, Flounder, Haddock and Cod. (Haddock and Cod are my favorites and Haddock is what the recipe below is made with.)

Is this not beautiful fish?

I wish you could smell it. It does not smell at all!

How to tell if fish is done:

This is a loaded question nowadays. Fish used to be cooked through and that was considered done. Then sushi hit the food scene and the definition of cooked through fish seemed to change. I like fish that is cooked through – not translucently rare in the middle. Some chefs will beg to differ with me, and when I am in a restaurant I specify that I like it cooked through, but not burnt to a crisp to get it there. Sometimes it comes as I wish and sometimes it is so charred and dry that it is not worth eating.

Ben Pollinger of Oceana in Manhattan, has an almost foolproof way to determine the degree of doneness.

Fine Cooking offers a different way, but also effective in seeing how far along the fish is in the cooking process.

If you live in the Berlin area and you want to keep up with the Jones, then we highly recommend Jones Fischladen. John Jones, the owner is fluent in English and German, and knows all the fish in both languages! Key when German fish names were limited.

And just to add in while keeping up with the Jones, our other favorite Jones is Jones Ice Cream in Schöneberg.

Jones Fischladen
Florastraße 67b
13187, Berlin Germany

Jones Ice Cream Shop
Goltzstrasse 3
10781 Berlin

Fresh fish, there is nothing like it. Need to freeze? No prob, do it right and it will be as good as fresh! Click To Tweet

Curried Cod - Fresh Fish is Key

Serves: 4
Cooking Time: 45-50 minutes


  • 24oz/750g haddock or cod, fresh or frozen (defrosted)
  • 1 large or three small onions, sliced
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 16oz/500ml tomato purée (not flavored tomato sauce)
  • 2 TBSP curry powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • parsley, chopped, optional - sprinkle generously on top if desired



Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.


Cut fish into two or four pieces to fit into a baking dish. Set aside.


In a small bowl blend tomato sauce, curry powder, salt and pepper.


Slice onions and place in pan that will ultimately hold fish and tomato sauce.


Add oil. Mix until well coated.


Place pan in oven and bake onions until they start to caramelize (about 15-20 minutes).


Remove pan from oven and add tomato sauce mixture. Stir to incorporate onions.


Lay fish in a single layer on top of the tomato-onion mixture. Spoon some of the mixture from the sided to cover the fish. This will keep the fish moist while baking.


Return pan to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the fish is cooked through.


Serve with fresh potatoes and or a green salad.


Some fish will start to flake apart when done (although many a chef will say it is overcooked at this point). I am not a fan of undercooked fish, but that is my preference. Cooked haddock or cod will have a firm texture when it is cooked and it will flake apart easily with a gentle nudge from a fork. If you are really not certain if it is done or not, cut into one of the thicker pieces and see if it looks opaque or still slightly translucent inside the cut area.

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