Many a seafood aficionado expounds the virtues of smoked black cod. He knows which market has the best selection and which menu does his favorite fish the most justice. What he probably doesn't know is that the black cod he so enjoys is no cod at all. It's a sablefish. And although sablefish does resemble cod, it does not belong to the codfish family. It's a member, instead, of the Anoplopomatidae family, a group of fish confined to the North Pacific.
Although this premium quality whitefish can attain a length of 40 inches and may weigh up to 40 pounds, the average commercially-caught sablefish measures about two feet long and weighs less than 10 pounds. Thanks to its rich oil content, Alaska sablefish is exceptionally flavorful and an excellent fish for smoking. Indeed, most of the sablefish consumed in this country is smoked.
Sablefish came to be appreciated several centuries ago by the Makah Indians who fashioned kelp fishing lines and hemlock hooks to capture their prized fish. Today, most Alaska sablefish is long lined--in the cold, deep waters of the Bering Sea or in the Gulf of Alaska where the world's largest sablefish population exists. After it is landed, the sablefish is usually frozen then, most likely, smoked.
A valuable source of high-quality protein, Alaska sablefish also furnishes important minerals, among them: iodine, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc and calcium. The fats in sablefish are highly polyunsaturated and thus well-suited to low cholesterol diets.
Sablefish is especially appealing to the operator because it can be easily prepared in a variety of ways. Simply season with salt, pepper and favorite herb, then sprinkle with lemon juice and microwave. Or sauté and serve with wine butter sauce. Alaska sablefish can be marinated then grilled or broiled. It can also, of course, be baked, poached, steamed or stir-fried. Fresh/frozen sablefish is available year-round; marketed in whole dressed fillet and steak form.
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