Have you had sablefish? What about black cod? Alaska cod? Butterfish?
Many fans of black cod or Alaska cod (and other names) don’t know that it isn’t cod. It’s sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria), a member of a completely separate fish family (the cod family is Gadidae).
Sablefish belong to the Anoplopomatidae family, a group of deepwater fish which are only found in the North Pacific, from the U.S. west to Japan.
So why call it black cod? It’s marketing: Make it sound more mouth-watering and the fishing industry will sell more of it. The same was done with:
A premium-quality whitefish, domestic sablefish come largely from the Gulf Of Alaska, which boasts the world’s largest sablefish population. The Bering Sea, on the other side of the Alaska peninsula, is another great fishing ground.
In addition to delicious fish, you’ll get high-quality protein plus all your omega 3’s*, and lots of minerals: calcium, copper, iron, iodine, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc.
The white flesh has a soft textured and mild, buttery, sweet flavor. When cooked, its flaky texture is similar to Chilean sea bass (i.e., Patagonian toothfish).
And surprise: Chilean sea bass isn’t even a type of bass: It’s a member of the cod family!
Most of the sablefish consumed in the U.S. is smoked, a technique used for centuries (more likely, millennia) by the indigenous tribes of the Pacific Northwest.
Rich in oil, they are exceptionally flavorful no matter how they are prepared. (For cholesterol counters: The fats in sablefish are highly polyunsaturated and well-suited to low-cholesterol diets.)
As you can see from the photos, fresh or frozen catch can be cooked like conventional fillets.
Next time you see “black cod” or “sablefish” at the fish counter, don’t hesitate to give it a try.
And if you see smoked sablefish (photo #4), buy yourself a slice or two. In Jewish delis, it is called, simply, sable.
Like smoked salmon, it’s delicious with a bagel and cream cheese.
*Because it lives in deep, icy waters, sablefish accumulates far more omega-3 fatty acids than most other white fish.
†The difference between a sauté and a pan fry is that for a sauté, the food is cut into small pieces, e.g. diced chicken. In a pan fry, it is left in larger pieces, like a breast of chicken or a fillet of fish.