Sablefish, thus known because of its black, almost furry skin, is also commonly called black cod, though it is not in the cod family. It is also called butterfish in reference to its melt-in-your-mouth, oil-rich meat. The oil makes sablefish an excellent species for smoking, a treatment relished by the early Makah Indians on the Northwest coast, who smoked the fish over green wood. Sablefish is caught in deep water along the Pacific Coast from Alaska to southern California by trawls, longlines and traps. It is most abundant off northern British Columbia and in the Gulf of Alaska. Some say longlines and traps produce the best-quality sablefish. As a general rule, the larger the sablefish, the better the quality. Though most sablefish has traditionally gone to Japan, where demand and prices are high, an increasing amount is finding its way into the domestic market as U.S. consumers learn to enjoy the unique, buttery flavor.
Images and data provided by SeafoodSource. To view the entire Seafood Handbook, visit SeafoodSource.com.