How to Cook Black Cod (Sablefish) Easily at Home

Have you ever tried Black Cod, also known as Sablefish? If you haven’t, then you’re missing some tender and buttery filets in your life. It’s rich in flavors and can be anyone’s favorite, provided that you cook it the right way, of course!

Not sure how to cook Black Cod? Then continue reading this post, and you’ll find some of the best ways to cook this fish to enhance its flavor while preserving its natural texture. You’ll thank yourself for reading this guide before trying out the Sablefish recipe!

Black Cod Filet

What is Black Cod/Sablefish?

Sablefish is a fish found in the deep waters of the Pacific Coast. It’s also called Black Cod, but for reasons. Some of these are:

  • This fish isn’t related to the Cod fish in any way. It resembles one of the members of the cod family because of its long slender body.
  • Black Cod or Sablefish has black scales on its body.

Due to the slender body like Cods and black scales, it is known as Black Cod. This fish has a high oil content which provides its characteristic buttery flavor. The flavor of this fish also makes it a nice butterfish.

Ways to Cook Black Cod at Home

Sablefish is a versatile fish that can be cooked through various methods. You can add this fish to sushi, as it’s popular in Japan for making sushi, or smoke it to make BBQ. Hence, choosing the best way to cook depends upon personal preference

  • How to cook Black Cod in a pan
  • How to cook Black Cod in the oven
  • How to broil Black Cod
  • How to steam Black Cod
  • How to Sous Vide Black Cod

So, without a further due, let’s move on to preparing Black Cod in different ways.

Cooking Black Cod at Home

How to Bake Black Cod in the Oven

Who can resist an easy-to-prep and straightforward Black Cod meal? Well, at least we can’t! Roasting your Black Cod in the oven is as easy as it sounds, provided, of course, that you pay attention to a few precautionary measures.  

You just have to preheat your oven to 450 degrees beforehand. Then you can add your Black Cod along with your desired taste of seasoning.  You’d like to bake for around 10 minutes. The baking time depends on the size of your filet. Although Black Cod is a very forgiving fish, thanks to the fat in it, you don’t want your Black Cod to be overcooked. Food thermometer is a good investment in this case, especially if you like cooking. When the internal temperature reaches 145 F, you know for sure that your Black Cod is ready. Take out the fish from the oven and transfer it to the serving dish.

The good thing about baking Black Cod or fish in the oven is you can throw in some potatoes, bacon, or any side dishes you have in mind in the oven too. Your side dishes will enhance your experience of the dish; of course, the sides are, in the end, purely up to personal preference. A tip from us, each food requires different baking time. If you have multiple dishes in the oven, make sure you time it well so everything can be cooked perfectly.

How to Grill Black Cod in a Pan

Grilling your Sablefish in a pan sounds slightly more challenging than just baking it. However, once you get the hang of it, you’ll realize that it’s worth every effort you put in there. 

While it isn’t exactly hard per se, it does require a bit more involvement than the baking process. Get your Black Cod filet down to room temperature before cooking it. Just like any other fish, season your Black Cod as you like. Due to the buttery texture, even the traditional salt and pepper are sufficient. . 

After seasoning the Black Cod, oil your pan. Non-stick pan comes in handy here. When the pan is hot, put the Black Cod to the pan, skin-side down, and let the pan do its work until the skin is brown and crisp. This process takes around 4-5 minutes on medium heat depending on the size of your filet. Once the skin is golden brown, turn your fish over the other side and leave for another 3 minutes. If you have a thermometer, you can poke the thickest part of the fish filet to check the doneness. When the internal temperature reaches 145 F, take off the pan from heat and transfer your pan-grilled Black Cod to a serving dish. Grilled Black Cod goes well with any salad. The buttery texture makes your salad meal taste luxurious. 

How to Broil Black Cod

Once you’ve nailed down baking and grilling your Sablefish, the next step to bringing out the fish’s flavors is learning how to broil. Like the other methods mentioned above, broiling isn’t a complex task once you get familiar with it.

To put broiling in a more straightforward way, such that even beginners will be able to nail their Sablefish, you’ll have to: adjust your broiler’s (or oven broiler; it doesn’t matter) heat to a high. Next, you’ll have to cover your broiler pan with aluminum foil and place your Sablefish skin-down on the pan. It can take around 10 minutes for the fish to get ready.

You can check whether the fish is raw by inspecting its surface; it should be charred well. Furthermore, you should also be able to insert a skewer with no resistance, even when retracting it.  

How to Steam Black Cod

Some people prefer steamed fish to enjoy the pure flavor of the fish. Steamed fish is also a heart-warming dish for a lot of families. Steaming Black Cod is not as hard as you might think. You just have to season your fish according to your liking and place it down in a steamer along with your other components.

Our favorite is to steam Black Cod with soy sauce and a few slices of ginger and garlic. You can also add some Shiitake mushroom for some umami flavor. Add some coarsely chopped green onions on top for extra fragrance. 

Once you’ve set down all your components, boil some water in a pot. Once the water is boiling, put your steamer in on the pot and wait for your fish to be thoroughly steamed. It can take up to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish that you’ve chosen. Pairing your steamed Black Cod with some dipping sauce enhances your meal experience too.

How to Sous Vide Black Cod

Sous vide is a water bath method to cook food in a low temperature for some period of time. Preparing a Sous Vide Black Cod is a slightly more technical matter. You’ll need to season your fish and seal the pieces accordingly (you can use a vacuum sealer to accomplish this task or the water displacement method) after deboning them. 

Once you’ve sealed your seasoned fish, you can place it to cook in water that has been heated to 125 F beforehand for a period of 20 minutes. At this point, your fish is already cooked. That being said, we recommend you to finish it off on a pan, especially if it is a skin-on filet. Take out the Black Cod from the vacuum bag, heat some butter in a pan and lay down the fish, skin-side down on the pan. There you have it, your sous vide Black Cod is complete.

Grilled Black Cod

Tips for Cooking Black Cod

Sablefish have to be handled a little differently when it comes to cooking them perfectly. You’ll have to take care of minor aspects of the process to make sure that it comes out perfectly, for example: 

  • If you want to leave your Sablefish to marinate or even cook, you should do so in a glass pan as the fish can absorb the metallic feeling of metallic bowls. 
  • Black Cod, as stated, should be handled a little differently in comparison to other fish; they should be cooked a little longer in comparison to avoid too much softness. 
  • Black Cod ”gaps” much faster than other fish. Unlike other fish, however, your Sablefish “gaping” does not indicate that it's done. Instead, you should cook it for a long while. Sablefish are hard to overcook and ruin, so you can definitely up the cooking time to ensure that it’s well done.  

The Famous Nobu's Miso Black Cod

Originating from Nobu: The Cookbook, Nobu’s Miso Black Cod recipe is, by no doubt, one of the best experiences you can hope to have with Sablefish. The recipe, which was devised by a Japanese chef named Nobu Matsuhisa, has gained massive popularity for a reason. 

Contrary to its massive popularity, the preparation process is relatively simple. To start off with the recipe, you’d have to soak your Black Cod in a sweet-salty marinade for days on end and broil just before serving. 

It is an excellent recipe for a weekend meal prepared in between weekdays, and it truly brings out all the good aspects of a Sablefish by deeply seasoning it and making it irresistible to eat. 

Bottom Line

With everything said and done, Black Cod or Sablefish is not a hard fish to prepare or cook at home. The key is to start with a fresh Black Cod filet. With our tips above, you can turn a homemade dinner into a more refined dining experience.

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