First of all, Black Cod is not black. In fact, it’s not even in the cod family.
It is a delicious and unique fish with a boring and incorrect name.
Black cod, also known as Sablefish and Butterfish, is a gourmet fish with a rich, buttery flavor and delicate, silky texture. It has so many different names because it is so popular around the globe. It is found on the menus of the world's most exclusive seafood restaurants. While it is known as a delicacy in many countries, it is especially popular in Japan. In fact, Black Cod can be hard to find in the U.S. because most of it is loaded directly into containers and exported to Japan. However, we have definitely seen a growing awareness and appreciation for Black Cod in the states. It is showing up in many gourmet restaurants, and becoming popular among foodies and adventurous eaters.
Rich and I love to serve Black Cod to our guests! It is so fun to watch people try it for the first time. Their eyes literally light up with the first bite, and they start asking all kinds of questions about how to cook it and why they’ve never heard of it before. The best part is watching kids who “don’t like fish” gobble it up. Black Cod is so rich and silky it is practically irresistible. No matter how much we cook, we never have left overs.
Black Cod are similar to salmon in size and shape, with dark grey/greenish skin and scales so small they almost feel furry. The flesh is pearly white, turning more opaque when cooked. They mature quickly and have long life spans, especially in the very deep waters of Alaska. That means they can reproduce early and long, making them a good sustainable seafood choice. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch ranks Black Cod from Alaska as a “Best Choice” environmentally.
Although black cod can be harvested from northern California all the way through the Aleutian Islands, it is the cold water, gulf of Alaska source that is the most highly desired. Sena Sea Black Cod, is the highly desirable Alaskan cold water type. We catch them by longline, at the edge of the continental shelf, where the ocean bottom transitions from shallow offshore depths and plunges to deep open-ocean depths.
Because of their long lives in these very deep and cold waters, Black Cod store a lot of fat in the form of omega-3’s. They have the highest omega-3 content of any white fish, even higher than many species of salmon. Of course, this high omega-3 content makes Black Cod super healthy (we call it brain food at home), but the high fat content also gives Black Cod its unique silky texture and rich, buttery flavor. One taste, and there is no doubt why it is sometimes called Butterfish.
Thanks to its extraordinarily high fat content, Black Cod is also a very forgiving fish to cook. Nearly impossible to overcook, because it won’t dry out like other fish, it is the perfect fish to make the home cook look like a gourmet chef. Black Cod is mouth-watering whether grilled, smoked, broiled, poached, roasted or sautéed. It's unique texture and flavor profile is enhanced by Asian cooking techniques, such as soy, ginger and miso marinades. Just writing this makes me want to pull out a fillet for dinner tonight!
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- Sena C Wheeler
Sena holds degrees in nutrition and food science in addition to being a Mom, foodie, and third generation fisherman's wife. Visit her at SenaSea.com where she blogs about family, fish and food.
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