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.