Posted by: Erica Retrochef | November 12, 2012

Cod on a Spinach Isle

I was trying to think of a brief introductory paragraph for this week, but then I realized all I need to do is show you the picture that forced me to make this dish.

Birds Eye Cod Recipe

Actually, it’s not just the picture — it’s the recipe. Particularly that last ingredient.

Birds Eye Cod on a Spinach Isle

2 packages Birds Eye Cod Fillets
Seasoned flour
1/4 cup butter or other fat
1 box Birds Eye Spinach
2 teaspoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper
1 cup rich milk
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced

Cut ocean-fresh Birds Eye Cod Fillets in serving pieces. Roll in seasoned flour. Fry in fat in skillet about 15 minutes, turning to brown both sides.

Meanwhile, cook and season Birds Eye Spinach as directed on package. Arrange fish and spinach on hot platter.

Add flour, salt, and pepper to fat remaining in skillet and blend. Add milk gradually and cook over medium heat until mixture is thickened, stirring constantly. Add mustard and blend; then add eggs. Pour sauce over spinach and fish. Makes 4 servings.

What is with these hard-boiled eggs recently?

We couldn’t find frozen cod fillets, or rather couldn’t find any that weren’t coated with something. So we’re using fresh cod here. Luckily Birds Eye still makes spinach, though, so our Isle will be authentic.

“Seasoned flour” is not well defined, so we added small amounts of paprika and pepper and dry mustard.

I’ve never actually fried fish before. This is an inexplicable oversight, because fried is one of the few ways I am actually willing to EAT fish. (I grew up in the Midwest and just never had decent seafood.)

The fish was only cooked for 10 minutes total; we had bought fresh fillets, and they cooked faster than frozen would have.

To my surprise, it looks just right. How about that?

The remainder of the seasoned flour was enough to add to the butter for our roux.

Ta-da. Roux!

Mustard roux, even.

And then, well… eggs. Eggs in mustard sauce.


Once I was looking at this on the platter, I realized it was probably way more cod than the recipe expected. (That’s what happens when you stop selling frozen cod fillets, Birds Eye, I have no idea what you want!)

Despite the bizarre use of eggs, this was pretty darn good. The spinach really needed the mustard sauce, and the eggs were, well, bizarre. But the cod was tasty, and the cod with mustard sauce was delicious.

Oddly, after we’d made the Spinach Isle and I was working on this post, a highly relevant blog post from Improbable Research popped up in my RSS reader. Thanks to the 1956 report “Effects of nuclear explosions on frozen foods,” published by the Atomic Energy Commission, we know that cod fillets are the most likely to pick up radiation when a nuke explodes nearby. Weren’t those guys useful?

So, in the event of nuclear winter, if you’ve found a full chest freezer near Ground Zero and you’re wondering what you can safely eat, go with the strawberries. This neatly avoids not only the radioactive food problem, but you’re spared the ordeal of all the other survivors of the apocalypse wondering why the hell you are putting hard-boiled eggs in a mustard sauce.

The retro advertisement featuring the Cod on a Spinach Isle recipe was put online by Retro Adverto. Cod fillet radiation danger was found via Improbable Research, originally published by the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission in 1956 and available digitally online thanks to the Hathi Trust.


  1. Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

  2. Just discovered your blog last week and subscribed. I am in LOVE! I think it’s the most unique and cleaver blog I’ve ever seen. Keep it up 🙂 And I think this recipe, odd as it is, sound pretty darn good.

  3. OK, this looks delicious to me. But I really like fried cod, so maybe I’m biased. Or maybe it’s just because last night I ate Vienna Sausage-filled biscuits for dinner (oh, Wiener Wednesday).
    We have issues.

  4. This looks absolutely delicious! I’d make it in a minute, radioactive fish or not! Hey, if I’m wandering around after a nuclear winter, break into a house and find a freezer full of 1) fish fillets or 2) strawberries, it’s fish for me! You can have the stupid soggy strawberries even if they are supposedly ‘safer’. I would think ingesting a tad more radioactivity via tasty cooked protein would be the least of my problems!

  5. Their sauce is definitely thinner than yours – I like the looks of yours. When I was a kid, my mother made something like the egg thing over toast… although, now that I think on it, the eggs weren’t boiled, but fluffy scrambled.

    I do not love fish of any kind, but can see the boy eating this with every evidence of happiness… and a bit of confusion about the eggs…

  6. Hmm. Traditional Christmas Eve dinner in my family (and much of New England) was creamed cod with hard-boiled eggs. Loved the fish, the eggs, not so much.
    This looks like a significantly zippier version. Plus–fried! Yay for that. So I would eat this.
    But not the spinach; makes your teeth feel like they’re wearing little sweaters.

    • So the eggs are a traditional New England thing? That’s very interesting. It also reminds me that historically, the U.S. Army did a lot of food research in Natick. The facility was located there because that made it convenient for interactions with the preserved fish products industry. It was also where the much-maligned process of food irradiation (as a way of killing bacteria) was developed.

  7. I love good fish. And I like good, well done cream sauces, the egg made me cringe. Cooked spinach I can’t do. I think I’d rather take a good piece of that cod, slam it on a hamburger bun, hit it with some homemade tartar sauce, viola’….homemade McD’s Fillet of Fish.

    Oh well.

  8. This recipe looks fantastic! Nothing wrong with some mustard in egg salad, but here it seems out of place. I may want to make this without the eggs, and maybe without the spinach (SO doesn’t like it).

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