There are several branches to this family, varying amongst themselves more in size than in texture or flavour. Cod itself is a very firm, flaky fish that can weigh up to 14 lb (6.5 kg), so lends itself well to thick steaks, cutlets and fillets, but sadly it loses much of its flavour if not eaten very fresh. It has been affected by over-fishing.

Other members of the cod family: Codling is simply a much smaller version of cod. Hake is a similar, if elongated, version of cod, resulting in thinner, smaller steaks.

Haddock is another relation, smaller and more finely textured, much of which goes to be smoked.

Coley is a rather dull cousin, whiting a much more succulent one, and Norwegian red fish a somewhat ferocious-looking one that surprisingly tastes as good as cod and is in need of more promotion.

Because in recent years stocks of cod and haddock have become more scarce in our own coastal waters and that has increased the price, look out for a very similar deep-water fish called hoki from New Zealand, where there are plentiful supplies.

Hoki has a white, moist, flaky flash and can be used in recipes that call for any member of the cod family.

All these fleshy, firm fish lend themselves to a wide spectrum of seasonings, flavourings and sauces.

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