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TIP OF THE DAY: Sablefish, Often Called Black Cod

Sablefish With Baby Bok Choy
[1] Sablefish on a bed of rice, with baby bok choy, garnished with microgreens. At Ray’s Boathouse in Seattle.

Sablefish With Kale
[2] Sablefish on rice with crisped kalettes at Bamboo Sushi in Portland, Oregon.

Sauteed Sablefish
[3] Sauteed sablefish atop a bowl of greens (photo courtesy Vital Choice).

Smoked Sablefish
[4] Smoked sablefish from Russ & Daughters in New York City.


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:

  • Mud crabs, sold as peekytoe crab
  • Goosefish, sold as monkfish
  • Patagonian Toothfish, sold as Chilean sea bass
  • Slimehead, sold as orange roughy
    Renamed, they quickly developed a market and now sell at premium prices. Under their original names, would you buy them? (“What’s for dinner tonight?” “Slimehead and mud crabs.”)

    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.

  • It can be baked, broiled (photo #2), grilled (using a grill basket—photo #1), pan-fried/sautéed† (photo #3) or poached.
  • Whole fish or large fillets can be roasted with the skin on.
  • Because of its oil content, it stays moist when barbecuing or smoking.
    However, just because it’s called black cod doesn’t mean it’s suitable for most codfish recipes. Cod is a particularly dense fish.

    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.



    FOOD FUN: A Hands-On Plate

    We love having fun with food.

    Whether we enjoy it at fine restaurants or make it ourselves, we relish food presented with wit, as works of art, or tongue-in-cheek.

    Of the latter, we made a literal version not too long ago, layering sliced tongue with beef cheeks.

    The famed dish Oysters and Pearls at The French Laundry in Napa and Per Se in Manhattan, is a sabayon of pearl tapioca topped with malpeque oysters and osetra caviar (more “pearls”), is one of Chef Thomas Keller’s tongue-in-cheek preparations

    When you dine at L’Atelier Joel Robuchon in New York City, you may have all three experiences.

    Every dish presented by the team representing the world-acclaimed chef is a work of art, for sure. Some are turned into beauty or wit by clever plating, including by creating custom plates (photo #1).

    Here, “La Carotte,” is witty, artistic and tongue-in-cheek.


    La Carotte L'Atelier Joel Robuchon NYC
    [1] The custom plates were designed by L’Atelier Joel Robuchon in New York City, which uses them to present different foods (photo courtesy L’Atelier Joel Robuchon).

    Pastry chefs Christophe Bellanca and Salvatore Martone designed this plate for their creations, presenting the dessert in the “hands.”

    In La Carotte, an oblong of carrot cake is iced with orange-tinted cream cheese frosting.

  • Like a fresh carrot, it’s coming out of the “soil,” composed of chocolate cookie crumbs.
  • Tiny baby carrots with their tops on garnish the plate. They’re naturally sweet enough to be eaten with the cake.
  • The garnish on top is real carrot top—which are delicious, although not necessarily with carrot cake. (Here are our own 25 uses for carrot tops.)
    If you, too, enjoy fun food, look at your own cooking for inspiration. Our tongue-in-cheek dish is a concept that didn’t require any more effort than regular cooking of the two meats.

    We added plate garnishes like pickled mustard seeds and a purée of beets for color, and everybody loved it.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Substitute Shrimp In A Lobster Roll

    Shrimp Roll Sandwich
    [1] (photo courtesy Kindred Restaurant)

    Raw Shrimp
    [2] Wild-caught gulf shrimp (photo courtesy I Love Blue Sea | Vital Choice).

    Head-On Shrimp
    [3] Raw whole shrimp (photo courtesy Mercato).


    It’s National Shrimp Day. One of the easiest ways to celebrate: Make yourself a shrimp roll.

    The photo, which may appear to be a lobster roll, actually contains whole shrimp instead of nuggets of lobster.

    While we’ve seen many a lobster roll, we hadn’t seen a shrimp roll until we saw these from the website of Kindred restaurant in Davidson, North Carolina.

    A great idea: Shrimp is more available than lobster, and you likely couldn’t tell the difference in a blind tasting of shrimp salad versus lobster salad.

    To make its shrimp salad, Kindred uses:

  • Shrimp cut into large chunks
  • Mayonnaise mixed with tarragon and a squeeze of Meyer lemon juice
  • A split-top Japanese milk hot dog-style bread bun, toasted
    To this we personally add a small dice of celery and Vidalia onion.

    We’re not about to bake Japanese milk bread buns. Instead, we buy the brioche version at our local specialty food store. If you can’t find a better-grade

    In the Northeast, lobster rolls are served New England-style hot dog-style buns, which have squared edges.

    You can buy a pan to bake them from King Arthur Flour. Here’s more on the types of hot dog rolls.

    Shrimp is the most popular shellfish in the U.S. Even people who don’t eat fish are known to raise their forks for the tasty shellfish.

    Thanks to shrimp farming, which supplements the wild catch, there is enough supply available year-round.

    Shrimp are crustaceans with long, narrow (and delicious!) muscular abdomens.

    Crustaceans have hard shells—exoskeletons—and many varieties walk on jointed legs.

    Unlike crustacean cousins like crabs and lobsters, however, shrimp and their close kin, crayfish and prawns*, are more adapted for swimming than crawling or walking.

    Americans love their shrimp. The U.S. harvests more than 650 million pounds a year from our own waters and fish farms—more than any other country.

    Yet, to satisfy our cravings, the U.S. imports an additional 200 million pounds each year (source).

    Shrimp farming became more prevalent during the 1980s, particularly in China, and by 2007 the harvest from shrimp farms exceeded the capture of wild shrimp (source).

    The commercial shrimp species is worth some $50 billion a year. Shrimp farming became more prevalent during the 1980s, particularly in China. By 2007 the harvest of farmed shrimp exceeded the capture of wild shrimp (source).

    There are more than 3,000 species of shrimp worldwide (source). Fossils of the same shrimp that we eat today date to the Late Jurassic, about 155 years ago.

    Then, a warm shallow sea covered much of what is now Germany. Beautiful shrimp fossils have been found in the limestone there.

    The English word “shrimp” comes from the Middle English “shrimpe,” meaning pygmy.

    *The differences between crayfish, prawns and shrimp: CRAYFISH (also called crawfish and crawdads) are small, freshwater lobsters. Their flavor is more mild. mild. SHRIMP are sometimes called prawns, but that is erroneous. While they taste exactly alike, shrimp have lamellar gills (a side plate that overlays segments in front and behind) and carry their eggs outside of their bodies, beneath their tails. PRAWNS have branching gills (side plates that overlap tile-like from front to back), and carry their eggs inside their bodies near their tails. Prawns have claws on three of their five pairs of legs, shrimp have claws on two of their five pairs of legs. Their gills and body shape are different as well (source).



    TIP OF THE DAY: Crescent Rings, Savory Or Sweet

    People love crescent rings. The taco crescent ring is one of the most popular recipes of all time on

    Crescent rings, stuffed crescent dough arranged in a circle, can be served:

  • Stuffed with eggs and sausage for breakfast.
  • As a “danish” ring for breakfast and coffee breaks.
  • Instead of sandwiches at lunch.
  • With beer, cocktails and wine.
  • As a general snack.
  • As dinner with a salad.
  • For dessert.
    Whatever flavor you seek—from beef to chicken to Tex-Mex to cheesecake—you can find a recipe for a crescent ring.

    Crescent rolls—pre-sliced puff pastry dough in a tube—were introduced by The Pillsbury Company in the 1960s.

    Pillsbury Crescents became an instant hit for dinner rolls, and introduced America to Poppin’ Fresh, the Pillsbury Doughboy.

    In the years that followed, Pillsbury recipe developers and home cooks turned the dough into much more than rolls, including—but hardly limited to:

  • Casseroles
  • Dumplings
  • Layered tortas
  • Pie crusts
  • Pizza crusts
  • Quiche crusts
  • Roll-ups
  • Turnovers
    Check out these creative recipes from Taste Of Home.

    They created shapes galore, such as bunnies, Christmas trees and turkeys to pinwheels, roses, swirls and wheat stalks.

    Now, it’s your turn.

    If you’re new to crescent rings, start with one of the recipes below.

    Then, you can create your own recipes. We even came across a carb-lover’s delight: a macaroni and cheese crescent ring.

    Crescent rings can be fun for upcoming Mother’s Day and Father’s Day festivities, general entertaining, or when you’re feeling crafty*.

  • Bacon Cheeseburger Crescent Ring
  • Bacon, Eggs & Cheese Breakfast Ring
  • Buffalo Chicken Crescent Ring
  • California Chicken Club Ring
  • Cheeseburger Ring
  • Chicken Broccoli Ring
  • Chicken Enchilada Ring
  • Chicken Pot Pie Crescent Ring
  • Chicken Salad Crescent Ring
  • Florentine Chicken Ring
  • Philly Cheesesteak Ring
  • Pizza Crescent Ring
  • Spicy Italian Hero Crescent Ring
  • Taco Ring
  • Turkey Taco Ring
  • Sausage & Egg Breakfast Ring
  • Vegetarian Crescent Roll
    Ready for dessert?

    Although the pastry type is different, sweet rings are similar to danish rings. You can serve them at breakfast, with a cup of coffee, or for dessert.

    Cream cheese is the unifying ingredient for filling, so if you like cheesecake (or a big schmear), you’ll be happy with these:

  • Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Crescent Ring
  • Cherry Cream Cheese Crescent Ring
  • Lemon Cream Cheese Crescent Ring
  • Nutella Crescent Ring
  • Strawberry Cheesecake Crescent Ring
  • Raspberry Cream Cheese Crescent Ring
  • Rocky Road Crescent Ring
  • ________________

    *By which we mean, a food-craft project.


    Buffalo Chicken Crescent Ring
    [1] Buffalo Chicken Crescent Ring (photo courtesy Pillsbury).

    Sausage & Egg Breakfast Ring
    [2] Sausage & Egg Breakfast Ring (photo courtesy Pillsbury).

    Nutella Crescent Ring
    [3] Nutella Crescent Ring (photo courtesy Pillsbury).

    [4] Raspberry Cream Cheese Crescent Ring (photo courtesy Like Mother Like Daughter).




    FOOD FUN: Japanese Bloody Mary

    Hanako San Bloody Mary
    [1] The Hanako San Bloody Mary at Bamboo Sushi in Portland, Oregon.

    Octopus Garnish Bloody Mary
    [2] Ready for its close-up.


    There are many variations on the Bloody Mary, one of America’s favorite cocktails.

    This one is from Bamboo Sushi in Portland, Oregon.

    It’s called Hanako-San, The Bamboo Bloody. While we don’t have the exact recipe, the ingredients are:

  • Tomato juice
  • Vodka
  • Ume plum vinegar
  • Shichimi togarashi spice blend
  • Cold-smoked tomato water
  • Lemon and lime juices
  • Shiso leaf
    You may not be up for making a copycat, but the garnish is easy enough to pull together (especially if you’re a mixologist at a sushi bar):

  • Small octopus tentacle
  • Sprig of fresh dill
  • Skewer of mango, tuna and beet cubes
  • Salt and pepper side rim (one side of the glass)
    Are you ready to have fun with it?

    Hanako-san is a Japanese female name. In an urban legend, she’s the spirit of a young girl who haunts school bathrooms. Here’s the legend.




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