Last Updated on January 28, 2022
If you love rich salmon, we have another fish that should be on your radar. If you’ve never tried sablefish, its buttery and tender fillets will show you just how much you’ve been missing.
Sablefish is also known by the names “black cod” and “butterfish” here in the United States. It’s a flaky white fish with a velvety mouthfeel that takes on flavors beautifully. Today, we’ve compiled some of our favorite ways to prepare this fish caught off the shores of Alaska. Keep reading for more.
What is Sablefish?
Also known as “black cod” or “butterfish,” sablefish is a deep sea fish found in the North Pacific Ocean. Sablefish live long lives—typically around 20 years, though the oldest recorded sablefish was 94 years old. You’ll find some of the largest sablefish in Alaska.
Sablefish is somewhat of a delicacy in many cultures. It can be served grilled, smoked, fried, and even served as sushi. It’s a staple in many Jewish delicatessens, where it’s served smoked and often referred to simply as “sable.” In Japanese cuisine, it’s commonly paired with white miso for its umami flavor.
What Does Sablefish Taste Like?
Sablefish is a fatty and rich cut of fish, and, like salmon. With the nickname “butterfish,” you’d be right to guess its flavor is buttery and satisfying. Its texture is melt-in-your-mouth and commonly compared to Chilean sea bass. This velvety fish is also uber tender, flaking easily with the slightest pressure from your fork.
8 Buttery Sablefish Recipes to Try in Your Own Kitchen
1. Alaskan Sablefish Poached in Brown Butter with Baby Potatoes and Kale
Sablefish is already a distinctly buttery fish, so poaching it in brown butter only enhances its richness. That’s why we love this Alaskan sablefish poached in brown butter with baby potatoes and kale recipe.
This complete meal is ready in under an hour, and it’s anchored by a sumptuous piece of sablefish that’s been gently poached in brown butter and lemon juice. That hint of acidity cuts through the buttery fish perfectly. Meanwhile, simple baby potatoes and kale make a hearty side dish.
2. Smoked Sablefish
Smoked sablefish tastes like it should be the centerpiece of a decadent spread of delicacies, with its velvety richness and distinct smoky flavor, but it’s also perfectly delicious when enjoyed on simple Ritz crackers.
You can find smoked sablefish at Jewish delicatessens all over the country. If you’d like to smoke it at home, the recipe we’ve linked here is a great step-by-step guide. The ingredients are simple: sablefish fillets, plenty of Kosher salt, sugar, garlic powder, honey, and sweet paprika for dusting the fish after smoking. You’ll also need mild wood chips like alder wood, oak, maple, or a fruit wood.
3. Gochujang Glazed Alaskan Black Cod
If you enjoy a little spice, this gochujang glazed Alaskan black cod is a delicious way to enjoy the fish. It’s brimming with bold flavor, thanks to a glaze with spicy gochujang, honey, lime juice, white miso, and more.
The preparation is simple as can be. You’ll whisk together your glaze ingredients and divide them into two portions. With the first portion, coat your sablefish fillet generously then let it marinate in the fridge. Before you send the sablefish to the broiler, brush it with the remaining glaze. It’ll cook to glazed perfection in minutes!
4. Honey Garlic Sablefish with Broccoli
A touch sweet and a touch savory, this honey garlic sablefish with broccoli is a restaurant-quality meal made easy. Plenty of garlic and fresh ginger helps the fish shine, while vibrant broccoli caramelizes with the same honey garlic sauce used on the fish.
The honey garlic sauce is brimming with sweet, garlicky flavor, thanks to ingredients like coconut aminos, honey, toasted sesame oil, fresh garlic and ginger, and crushed red pepper flakes. The buttery sablefish absorbs these flavors beautifully.
5. Pan Seared Sablefish with White Wine Tomatoes
When you’d like a quick and simple stovetop meal, reach for this pan-seared sablefish with white wine tomatoes. It’s vibrant and succulent all at once.
As a rich, fatty cut of fish, sablefish pairs beautifully with something bright and acidic, like white wine-doused tomatoes. The sablefish is pan-seared, then you’ll soften the tomatoes in the same pan and whip up a quick pan sauce. This bright and zingy pan sauce features shallots, fresh garlic, white wine, chicken broth, thyme, and all those decadent juices from cooking the fish and tomatoes.
We’d serve this one with a crusty piece of bread for soaking up the pan sauce.
6. Black Cod Teriyaki
This easy black cod teriyaki is made by marinating sablefish in a homemade sticky and sweet teriyaki sauce, then baking it to tender and flaky perfection. It’s a complete meal when served with rice and steamed vegetables or even lightly-dressed sliced cucumber.
The homemade teriyaki sauce is what makes this sablefish shine, complete with rice vinegar, soy sauce, shaved ginger, garlic, wasabi, and sugar. You can marinate the fish overnight for richer flavor.
7. Ginger Lime Black Cod
With its rich flavor and silky texture, sablefish takes incredibly well to marinades with bright and acidic ingredients, like in this ginger lime black cod.
This recipe comes together with just a few ingredients, with a quick marinade made from garlic, lime zest and juice, agave syrup, olive oil, ginger, and salt. The sablefish takes a dip in the marinade for just 30 minutes to an hour, then bakes in a hot oven for a few minutes until flaky and tender.
Serve this deliciously simple sablefish atop your favorite grains and roasted asparagus on the side.
8. Miso Black Cod
Miso delivers such an intense umami flavor, which pairs beautifully with the richness of sablefish in this miso black cod recipe.
As an oily and tender cut, sablefish soaks up this miso marinade, made with miso paste, soy sauce, mirin, olive oil, and black pepper. You can soak the fish in the marinade up to overnight to really amplify the flavors.
This recipe ends with a final flavor kick, glazing the sablefish with a blend of soy sauce and sesame oil. Serve with a hearty scoop of rice and garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro.
Are you ready to try sablefish out in your own kitchen?
This decadent fish is still simple and straightforward to prepare, and we hope these recipes provide the perfect jumping off point. We hope there’s buttery and tender fish in your future.