Know Your Fish: Sablefish (Black Cod)

A delicious-looking portion of sablefish (black cod)
Photo by Rachael Martin

Culinary and Species Info


Know Your Fish: Sablefish (Black Cod) | Sitka Salmon Shares

Culinary Profile

Sablefish (black cod) is one of the most prized white fish species, with a mild, buttery-sweet flavor and large, bright white flakes and a silky, luscious texture. This fish has a higher fat content than other white fish, allowing for higher heat when cooking on a grill or a well-seasoned cast iron to get a golden brown sear and crispy skin. We love sablefish because it is hard to overcook — but not impossible.

Bright citrus or vinegar notes are a welcome compliment to the rich fish. Serve sablefish with sauces such as chimichurri, citrus pan sauces, or a vinaigrette on a side salad. Asian flavors work well with this fish, such as the classic preparation popularized by Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa in which the fish is marinated in miso, sake, and mirin. (Get the recipe for Nobu-Style Sablefish here.) Sablefish can be poached, simmered, or stewed for various chowders, soups, and curries. Or simply grill for tacos or sandwiches. We welcome you to try smoking the fillets for rillettes or to top salads.

To get crispy skin on your sablefish, use a dry and well-salted fillet, a hot pan, and just a little bit of oil, plus a tiny bit of pressure when it’s in the pan. Read this article for more instructions on crisp skin.

Try some of our Culinary Team’s favorite sablefish preparations:

Species Info

Sablefish, also known as black cod (Anoplopoma fimbria), are a bottom-dwelling species with a long life span. The fish spend most of their adult life in the continental slope habitat off the Alaska coast, swimming just above the ocean floor. They prefer the continental slope habitat because it is a productive feeding area where the continental shelf (the shallow waters directly offshore) ends and the depth increases.

Sablefish are opportunistic feeders and can migrate long distances during their lifetime, sometimes close to 2000 nautical miles.

About 1 in 100 sablefish have a genetic characteristic known as “jelly belly.” These fish lack an enzyme that makes their meat hold up to the heat of cooking. As a result, a sablefish with jelly belly will disintegrate while cooking and is inedible. Contact us at salmonsupport@sitkasalmonshares.com for a refund if you experience a portion of jelly belly sablefish.

Fishing Methods

Currently, Sitka Salmon Shares sablefish are caught by fishermen participating in longline fisheries and those who use pots to harvest the fish. Using pots helps reduce the quantity of sablefish that are lost to whale depredation. Check out this video for info about why some of our fishermen are switching to catching sablefish with pots.

Learn more about the fishermen-owners and trusted partners who catch our sablefish.
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