Evan Centopani Discusses the Culinary Hazards of Worms
Evan and the Worms
The other day I was in the kitchen prepping a whole bunch of fresh cod that I had just picked up. There was around 50 pounds of it and I was giving it a quick rinse in the sink, as I always do before cooking it. I was reminded of a time a few years back when I had just come home from the fish market and started laying out filets of cod on sheet pans getting ready to cook it. I remember looking down at the fish and seeing a squiggly little brownish/orange thing sticking halfway out of one of the filets. Figuring it was just a piece of debris, I plucked it from the fish and realized the damn thing was still moving! It looked like a worm! I was shocked. The fish I get from my regular supplier is always fresh and of great quality and this stuff looked great and had no smell on it whatsoever. Still, I decided to give him a call because I wasn’t about to eat bad fish. He explained to me that it’s very common to find worms in cod and haddock and even sometimes in fluke, flounder and even in tuna and swordfish, although it’s pretty rare. He claimed that if I just removed the worm(s) and cook the fish, it would be fine. But what if I missed one? Shit, with all the fish I eat I’d probably eaten one or two or 20 already!
So I decided to do what anyone looking for truth does: I went on the interwebs! Come to find out, worms and parasites in food are pretty common. And according to more than one thing I read, cod is one of the greatest offenders. That being the reason you never see cod or haddock on a sushi menu. Never thought about that, huh? It had never occurred to me either. Supposedly there are hundreds of species of parasites that can be found in fish but there are three that can be harmful; cod worm (Pseudoterranova decipiens) tapeworm and Anisakis simplex, whatever the hell that is. But supposedly, cooking the fish through will kill these parasites and render them harmless. So if you see worms in your fish before cooking, remove them. But if you miss one or however many, you don’t have to worry so long as the fish is fully cooked. Then again, maybe if you leave the fish on the rare side, you can skip that extra session of cardio. I kid, I kid! Nobody wants a damn worm living inside them. Shit, I have to eat enough as it is… the last thing I need is to be eating for two!
Aside from making sure your fish (and all other food) is fully cooked, it may not be a bad idea to include a couple key foods in your daily diet. For example, garlic is a great thing to include in your diet, as it has been known to do everything from help improve your cholesterol levels to fighting colds to killing parasites. Other foods that are purported help rid the body of intestinal parasites are grated carrots, pineapple (bromelain) and apples. I think garlic is great to include in your diet and if it bothers your stomach, a garlic supplement works well and it won’t leave you smelling so rough. And an apple a day is always a good idea.
I attached a photo I took the other day showing a couple worms I found in the fish. It only occurred to me once I was almost done to share this interesting gem with you guys, otherwise I would have had a few more on the plate. I sent a video of the worms in action to my training partner… he indicated his lack of desire to ever eat cod again. Bon appetit!