The humble sablefish has been around for centuries, but its popularity as an ingredient on restaurant menus has only recently begun to catch up with demand.
Sablefish gets its name from the fact that it looks like the scales of a sleek catfish or sable.
It’s also called “black cod,” but this doesn’t refer to the color of the flesh (which is white), rather the dark pigment produced by bacteria living inside the fish.
Sablefish comes from the Pacific Ocean off North America and Japan, but it’s now farmed in China, South Korea, and Vietnam too.
If you’re looking for something new to try out, give sablefish a go!
How Do You Cook Sablefish?
If you want to make sure your sablefish turns out well cooked, start by choosing fresh, high quality fish.
You’ll get better results if you buy whole fish, which will ensure the meat is firm enough to be easily cut into portions and won’t dry out during cooking.
Once you have bought your fish, remove any excess fat from the cavity before placing it in the fridge overnight.
This will help prevent the surface drying out when preparing your dish.
Next, rinse the fillet under cold running water so that any blood remains visible.
Pat dry using kitchen paper towels, then place all ingredients except the oil in a large bowl.
Mix together thoroughly, making sure each piece of fish is coated evenly in the marinade.
Place the fish in a non-reactive container such as stainless steel or glass.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours, allowing plenty of time for the flavors to develop.
When you are ready to cook, heat a little vegetable oil over medium heat in a frying pan.
Remove the fish from the marinade and pat dry again with kitchen paper.
Cook the fish for about 5 minutes per side, depending on how thick your fillets are.
Serve immediately while still hot.
What Is A Good Sablefish Recipe?
If you’ve never cooked sablefish before, take some time to familiarize yourself with how the fish should be prepared.
You’ll find plenty of recipes online, but there are three key factors to consider when choosing one:
- A good balance between sweet and savory flavors
- An appropriate cooking method
- Amount of seasoning
In general, if you want something straightforward, you can prepare sablefish simply by brushing it with oil, sprinkling salt over it, and grilling it over high heat.
But if you’d prefer your sablefish to have more flavor, go down the route of a sushi roll instead.
For example, here’s how you could make a tuna roll using sablefish.
What Are The Ingredients For Sablefish?
Sablefish is quite versatile when it comes to preparation.
You can eat it raw, either whole or filleted – depending on your preference – cooked, fried, grilled, smoked, steamed, poached, or even pickled.
There really isn’t any limit to what you can do with this tasty little fish.
You may have noticed that there aren’t many recipes online which include sablefish.
That means if you want to cook it yourself, you will need to find some inspiration elsewhere.
Luckily, we found plenty of options right here on Chowhound!
Here are the main ingredients you’ll need to make sablefish at home:
- 1 pound (454 grams) fresh sablefish filets
- 3 tablespoons (45 milliliters) soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) sake
- 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) mirin
- 1 teaspoon grated peeled ginger
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- a few drops hot chili oil, optional
How Do You Prepare Sablefish For Cooking?
There are two types of sablefish available: fresh and frozen.
Fresh sablefish can be found at Asian markets and some supermarkets, while frozen sablefish is more common in grocery stores.
Both will work equally well when cooked, so if you don’t have either option, there’s no need to worry about substituting one for the other.
If you purchase your sablefish raw, make sure to remove any bones before cooking.
You should also check whether it’s skinless or not: if it’s not, rinse the fish thoroughly under cold water to get rid of any excess fat.
To clean the fish, run a sharp knife along the backbone and scrape away all the meat attached to the spine.
Then cut the fish into pieces roughly 2 inches long.
Remove any remaining bones using tweezers, and discard them after washing.
Next, place the cleaned fish in a large bowl and add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce per pound of fish.
Mix together to coat every piece evenly, then set aside for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
You’ll want to use a heavy skillet for frying sablefish, since they tend to stick to regular nonstick pans.
Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan (about 1/4 inch deep) and heat over medium heat.
Once hot, carefully lay in each piece of sablefish, making sure they aren’t overlapping.
Cook the fish until golden brown on both sides, 4–5 minutes per side.
Remove the fish from the pan once done and drain on paper towels.
Once cool enough to handle, slice the sablefish into thin strips and serve immediately, sprinkling with scallions, chili flakes, and sesame seeds.
What Is The Best Way To Cook Sablefish?
Sablefish can be prepared many different ways depending on your preference.
It’s usually served raw, though some restaurants will opt to serve it cooked — either grilled or fried.
You’ll find that most recipes call for the fish to be marinated before being sautéed, which gives it a nice flavor boost.
If you’d prefer not to use any oil at all when preparing your sablefish dish, there are several methods available to help achieve that goal.
You could choose to grill your sablefish whole using a gas burner, or if you have access to a charcoal grill, you could use one of these two popular techniques:
- Grilling: Place the fish onto a wire rack over a baking tray lined with aluminum foil.
- Cook the fish over medium heat for about five minutes per side, basting regularly to ensure it stays moist and juicy.
- Direct grilling: Using tongs, place the sablefish directly into the coals, turning occasionally to prevent burning.
Another option would be to bake your fish instead, but make sure you line your oven trays with parchment paper first so that it won’t stick.
Baking time depends on the thickness of your sablefish fillets, but for thin cuts, 10 minutes should see them through nicely.
How Long Does It Take To Cook Sablefish?
There are two main methods of cooking sablefish: steaming and frying.
You can use either method depending on your preference, although steaming tends to produce more flavorful results because it keeps the fish moist.
Here we’ll discuss how long each takes, so you know which one suits your needs.
- Cooking time: 2 hours
- Total cook time: 4 hours
To steam sablefish, place the fillets in a large pot filled with water and bring them to a boil over high heat.
Once they reach boiling point, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 30 minutes per pound (454g) of fish, or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F (63°C).
Remove the fish from the poaching liquid using tongs and allow it to cool before serving.
If you want to serve the fish immediately after removing it from the poacher, cover the fish tightly while it rests to keep any moisture from escaping.
However, if you wish to eat it later, store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
- Cooking time: 10 minutes
- Total cook time: 15 minutes
For pan-frying sablefish, cut the fillets into six portions and season them well with salt and pepper.
Heat some oil in a deep skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
Add the fish pieces and fry them for about five minutes per side until golden brown.
Once they have turned light brown, remove them from the pan using a slotted spoon and set aside.
Reduce the heat under the pan slightly and add another tablespoon of oil.
When hot again, return the fish pieces to the pan and let them finish cooking for another minute or two, turning them once more.
What Temperature Should Sablefish Be Cooked At?
If you’ve ever made fried chicken before, you’ll know how important temperature control is.
When cooking meat, you want to ensure that all parts are evenly done — otherwise, either your food will be undercooked or overcooked.
You might think that the best way to do this would be to use a thermometer, but this isn’t always practical.
For example, if you have a deep fryer, you can measure the oil temperature using a probe inserted directly into the tank while frying.
But what about other types of dishes? How can you check whether they’re ready without resorting to a digital kitchen timer?
In short, there’s no absolute answer here.
However, we recommend following these guidelines:
- For steaks and chops, aim for medium rare.
- Fish fillets should be opaque throughout.
- Pork belly should shred easily with fingers.
You don’t need a huge amount of experience to get this right, but it helps to understand a few key points.
How Can You Tell When Sablefish Is Cooked?
A good way to judge whether your sablefish is done cooking is to look at the texture.
To test if it’s tender enough, insert a small knife into the thickest part of the fillet — there shouldn’t be any resistance.
You can also dip a piece of bread into the liquid left over after frying the fish and see how much liquid remains.
Ideally, you’d want just a little bit.
If you don’t have access to sablefish, other types of fatty fish such as halibut, haddock, or even salmon will work well instead.
Another easy method for checking whether the fish is ready involves testing the taste.
A forkful of sablefish should feel firm and springy.
If it feels mushier than that, keep cooking.
When it’s done, it’ll still have some crunchiness, so don’t worry about overcooking it; simply drain away any excess oil before serving.
What Do You Serve With Sablefish?
You’ll find sablefish served raw at sushi restaurants; however, most people prefer to cook it before eating it.
That’s because sablefish tends to be fatty and tough, especially if it hasn’t had any time to rest after being caught.
When cooking sablefish, make sure not to overcook it; otherwise, it will become dry and flaky.
If you want to eat sablefish straight from the pan, you should let it cool down completely first.
Then just slice it into strips and dip them into your favorite dipping sauces, such as wasabi mayonnaise, ponzu sauce, yuzu kosho, chili garlic sauce, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, sweet chili sauce, peanut sauce, plum sauce, or Japanese miso paste.
For those who don’t have access to fresh sablefish, frozen versions are available online and in supermarkets.
They come defrosted, ready to use straight away.
You might even be able to buy sablefish fillets from Asian grocery stores in plastic bags.
What Are Some Tips For Cooking Sablefish?
We’ve talked about how to buy good quality sashimi grade tuna before, so let’s take a look at some of the other things you can do with your fresh sablefish once you get home.
- Serve a whole piece of fish with steamed vegetables.
- You could even make a simple side dish using broccoli florets, carrots, mushrooms, and snow peas to accompany your sablefish.
- Try making a ceviche: Slice the fish into thin strips, mix together lime juice, olive oil, minced shallot, and chopped parsley, then add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately over fresh pineapple slices.
- Serve sablefish cold.
- When sliced thinly across the grain, sablefish becomes very delicate — perfect for slicing onto raw vegetable plates.
- If you don’t have any sashimi-grade tuna lying around, you could use sablefish instead.
- Just be sure to slice it finely enough not to overcook the fish.
- 1 large baking dish
- 1 Oven
- 1 pound black cod fillets 450g; cut into 4 pieces
- 1 large bell pepper cored + chopped (red, orange, or yellow)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 5 large green olives pitted + diced
- 8 small black olives pitted + diced
- 2 large cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup parsley chopped
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 lemon juice only
- Salt + pepper to taste
- Fresh basil chopped (to garnish)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large baking dish, place the sablefish fillets.
- Toss the peppers, tomatoes, olives, garlic, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
- Place the vegetable mixture on top of the fish fillets. Spread out evenly so that the fish is visible and the vegetable mixture surrounds it. Season the fish with salt and pepper to taste.
- Bake the baking dish for about 20 minutes, or until done to preference (for the fish).
- Remove from the oven and top with fresh basil.