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What’s so special about Alaskan sablefish?

Black cod recipe

Everybody knows that wild salmon is a rich source of Omega-3, but few know that sablefish, commonly known by fishermen and others as black cod,  have even more Omega-3 fatty acids than any wild salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids are believed to be good for the heart–they’re associated with a significant reduction in coronary artery diseases–and encourage brain cell membrane integrity and fluidity. Sablefish are loaded with on average 1.8 grams of Omega-3s per 100-gram serving versus 1.3 grams for wild king salmon.

Our Alaska Gold sablefish comes from a fishermen-owned cooperative. Our Alaska Gold quality comes from our co-op’s impeccable standards and our integrity from being fishermen-owned.

Sablefish is found throughout the North Pacific Ocean and as far south as California. But Alaskan sablefish is special because it tends to be richer, possibly because of even cooler waters. Because Alaska has the sustainable yield principle written into its state constitution, Alaskan black cod are managed using science-based principles so that our fishermen’s grandchildren can fish for them the same way we do now. There is no threat to the Alaskan sablefish population, which is considered a “Green Choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.

For those in the know, sablefish is considered a great delicacy. Our customers grill it, fry it, bake it and even make it into ceviche. Smoked black cod is also truly wonderful. One recipe that gets frequent praise is this Miso-Marinated Black Cod Recipe— a variation on a classic recipe made famous by Nobu’s Kitchen that many know as Nobu’s Black Cod. The mild sweetness of the miso marinade compliments the richness of the fish and brings on an attractive glaze to the fish. The sweetness of honey in this Honey Black Cod Recipe also complements the black cod, too.

Honey Black Cod Recipe
Honey Black Cod Recipe

What’s unusual about sablefish in general is that it is such a rich source of omega-3s but dwells near the bottom of the ocean during its adult life. It can be found at depths of more than 2 miles! Or, as fishermen say, they can be found at depths greater than 1500 fathoms. Sablefish eat nutrient-dense fish like Pollock, capelin, herring, echelon, candle-fish, Pacific cod, jellyfish, and squids.

The inner lining of a sablefish’s stomach is lined with a jet-black film. This is a defense mechanism that protects the sablefish from being seen by other predators. Because some of the natural food that sablefish eat contains bioluminescence, their stomachs would light up and attract other fish in the dark depths of the ocean without this thick jet-black film.

Sablefish and black cod fillet

Most people ask for it by “black cod,” and we have many customers in Hawaii, southern California, and even the east coast who call it butterfish because of its butteriness, but its true scientific name is sablefish and it isn’t even a cod at all. The black cod name goes back to times when anything living in the sea was considered a cod. Lingcod also is technically not a cod, but a lingcod is a lingcod to anybody living by the sea.

Up until the late 1990s, sablefish wasn’t known by western consumers. Almost all of the Alaskan sablefish went to Japan where it is considered a delicacy. Recently, chefs in restaurants and home chefs around the country have discovered that sablefish is rich in flavor and a joy to cook with and not unlike Chilean Sea Bass in texture and richness. Just like people call sablefish black cod, the Chilean Sea Bass’s real name is Patagonian Toothfish.

Whatever you call it and just about however you cook it, sablefish is a delicacy. Its richness makes it very forgiving to cook–it is difficult to overcook. That richness will also warm your belly. Order our sablefish here–we have sablefish fillets and portions.

Black cod. Sablefish