||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (February 2013)|
Scrod (also schrod) was originally any young (2.5 lb/1.1 kg or less) cod, haddock, or other whitefish, split and boned. It is a term credited to chefs at Boston’s Parker House Hotel, also the originator of Parker House rolls. Scrod (or schrod) is a staple, even in 2013, in many coastal New England and Atlantic Canadian seafood and fish markets and as many restaurants, whether specializing in seafood or not.
A popular acronym used in New England for scrod is “seaman’s catch received on deck”, which implies whatever type of “whitefish” caught that day would be used universally for cooking. A dubious folk etymology holds that the term comes from the acronym “small cod remaining on dock”, but it more likely comes from the obsolete Dutch schroot, “piece cut off”, or from scrawed, from Cornish dialect. Other folk expressions explain that when spelled “schrod” it is a haddock, and is otherwise cod. In Dutch, schrod means “to fillet”, another possible etymology for “scrod”.
“Scrawing” was a method for preparing a fish for cooking by splitting it open, drying it in the sun and/or salting it overnight to remove moisture, and then broiling it when dry. Cooking a young cod or the split tail of a large cod, with the same preparation method as scrawing, has been labeled as “scrod” in a cookbook published as early as 1851. According to a friend of Daniel Webster, Webster greatly enjoyed scrawed cod for breakfast.
Today, however, whether based on the fact that the fish is filleted, a particular Parker House chef’s Dutch roots, or merely solid New England tradition, no self-respecting New Englander would serve anything but baby cod or baby haddock under the name, and the region’s professional chefs still spell it with or without the “h” based only on whether they are serving cod or haddock. The fish is a New England staple, after all, not a New Amsterdam invention. Notably, the serving of any fish other than cod or haddock as scrod or schrod was discontinued many decades ago and doing so today would likely be considered the equivalent of fraud by native New Englanders.
Yankee Magazine cited that the term "scrod" was actually an acronym that was used on daily menus standing for the fish of the day since many were made up before the day's catch was brought in. Often Cod in those days, it may be the reason that Scrod (Select Catch Retrieved On the Day) became associated with young cod.