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Smoked Sable

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JS Jan 4, 2004 05:25 PM

Is the fish used for smoked sable actually cod? If so, why is it referred to as smoked sable and not smoked cod?

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    Marcia M. RE: JS Jan 4, 2004 05:33 PM

    No, smoked sable is most definitely not cod. It is sometimes referred to as black cod (thus the confusion) or sablefish, and is a much richer, oilier fish than cod.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Marcia M.
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      Karl RE: Marcia M. Jan 4, 2004 09:31 PM

      I believe sablefish is also related to Chilean sea bass, which, of course, is not a bass. The naming is almost "Alice in Oceanland."

      1. re: Karl
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        Joel Teller RE: Karl Jan 5, 2004 12:29 AM

        Here in Berkeley the (unsmoked) fish is sold as "butterfish", usually in the $8-$9 per pound range. I love it for its creamy texture and resistance to overcooking, though the "filets" have a lot of pinbones.
        Also great marinated in sake lees (available in a prepared form ("Kazu-zuke") at Berkeley Bowl), then broiled.

        Link: http://oregonmag.com/Seared603.htm

        1. re: Joel Teller
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          missykins RE: Joel Teller Jan 5, 2004 11:09 AM

          Oh so that's what that unbelievably delicious "seared butterfish" was when I went for sushi in I want to say Huntington Beach several years ago!!! I'm from Boston and haven't seen "butterfish" anywhere on any menu and I've looked and looked. It's really sablefish?? Thanks!

          1. re: missykins
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            AlanH RE: missykins Jan 5, 2004 12:53 PM

            Actually, sablefish, which grows to several pounds, is not true butterfish, which only grows to about a half a pound. Some restaurants will serve sablefish fillets as butterfish.

            1. re: AlanH
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              jen kalb RE: AlanH Jan 5, 2004 01:04 PM

              If you are in NYC, you can sample a delicious sablefish presentation at Fuleen Seafood on Division St. in Chinatown, where it is one of their menu specials and served in a soy based sauce.

              So glad that this thread appeared - we had the dish on NYE and I had wondered what "sablefish" was.

              1. re: jen kalb
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                Dave RE: jen kalb Jan 5, 2004 02:13 PM

                The terms sable and butterfish are used (mostly by those on the west coast, who don't actually have access to a real Butterfish) interchangeably. However, to an east coaster (or a marine biologist), sable and butterfish are different. Sable is, as pointed out here, black cod. Butterfish is...well...butterfish (only found in the Atlantic from North Carolina up to the maritimes). The form I'm most familiar with is the smoked variety, due to my Jewish/NYC roots. Smoked "real" butterfish is nearly impossible to find any more, even in world-renowned NYC Jewish appetizing places (eg Russ & Daughters/Barney Greengrass). I haven't had real butterfish in years.

                1. re: Dave
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                  Evil Ronnie RE: Dave Jan 5, 2004 02:33 PM

                  Dave,

                  I've never had nor seen the smoked butterfish you speak of, but they sound like they were spectacular.

                  I grew up in Norfolk, Va., where butterfish (small, flat, like a mini pompano, rich, oily) were popular for that typical Chesapeake Bay breakfast, which consisted of whole, small, pan sized fish (spot, croaker, butterfish, or my favorite, salt herring) dipped in cornmeal and fried and served with boiled new potatoes.

                  Evil Ronnie

          2. re: Joel Teller
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            ruthieren RE: Joel Teller Feb 29, 2012 11:23 PM

            When I was in college, butterfish was very popular with students because it was so cheap - about $3 a pound. Just a couple years later, one of the food magazines did an article on it, how wonderful it was, complete with delicious recipes. The price immediately rose to $6.99 a pound. So, if I'd known about smoking it back then, well, and had a clue as to how to smoke anything, I'd have been all over this. ;)

            I had no idea it was so costly now. Dang those food mags! It's like Tilapia dn Tri-tip, both of which ran around $3 a pound for years. Then the foodies got the word, and the prices skyrocketed. Wonder what the people who bought them because $3 was all they could afford, do now?

        2. re: Marcia M.
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          chantiman RE: Marcia M. Jan 6, 2004 11:59 PM

          I agree, sablefish is a much oilier fish. The genus & species name is Anoplopoma fimbria (you'll get more sites from google with that). At the Oregon Trawl Seafood Products website they say that the trade name is sablefish and other names are black cod and butterfish.
          http://www.ortrawl.org/prod46.htm

        3. c
          Colleen RE: JS Jan 4, 2004 10:02 PM

          The fish used for this is Sablefish, but I think the name came about because it has another name--"Alaska Black Cod," which is what it was called when I first had it served to me.

          It's one of my favourite fish, but in recent years has gotten rather expensive. Below is some information I copied from Agri-Food Canada's fact sheet on Sablefish.

          http://atn-riae.agr.ca/seafood/sablef...

          Description
          Sablefish is a distinctive species combining dark, almost furry skin with pearly white flesh. Sablefish also boasts a smooth, luxurious texture and rich, velvety taste, the results of its high oil content. Mild, sweet flavour and a delicate white flake give sablefish a unique mouth and plate appeal much sought after by discriminating chefs and consumers.

          Product Forms
          Unsmoked sablefish is usually sold Japanese ("J")-cut (headed with head and collar off and bellyflap intact), although a growing North American market has increased demand for headed and gutted fish with collar on. Pinbone-in or out fillets and steaks are also readily available. Sablefish is normally hot-smoked and requires additional cooking. Smoked sides and portions are available, as are smoked and unsmoked collars

          Preparation
          Sablefish is amazingly versatile. Its high oil content makes it ideal for preparations requiring fast, high heat, such as grilling, roasting, broiling and pan-searing, but it can also stand up to long, slow preparations such as braising without losing its texture. The nutty flavour of smoked sablefish is a favourite with smoked-fish connoisseurs around the world, while the trimmings from smoked sablefish make excellent dips, mousses and fillings.

          1. c
            Colleen RE: JS Jan 4, 2004 10:04 PM

            The fish used for this is Sablefish, but I think the name came about because it has another name--"Alaska Black Cod," which is what it was called when I first had it served to me.

            It's one of my favourite fish, but in recent years has gotten rather expensive. Below is some information I copied from Agri-Food Canada's fact sheet on Sablefish.

            http://atn-riae.agr.ca/seafood/sablef...

            Description
            Sablefish is a distinctive species combining dark, almost furry skin with pearly white flesh. Sablefish also boasts a smooth, luxurious texture and rich, velvety taste, the results of its high oil content. Mild, sweet flavour and a delicate white flake give sablefish a unique mouth and plate appeal much sought after by discriminating chefs and consumers.

            Product Forms
            Unsmoked sablefish is usually sold Japanese ("J")-cut (headed with head and collar off and bellyflap intact), although a growing North American market has increased demand for headed and gutted fish with collar on. Pinbone-in or out fillets and steaks are also readily available. Sablefish is normally hot-smoked and requires additional cooking. Smoked sides and portions are available, as are smoked and unsmoked collars

            Preparation
            Sablefish is amazingly versatile. Its high oil content makes it ideal for preparations requiring fast, high heat, such as grilling, roasting, broiling and pan-searing, but it can also stand up to long, slow preparations such as braising without losing its texture. The nutty flavour of smoked sablefish is a favourite with smoked-fish connoisseurs around the world, while the trimmings from smoked sablefish make excellent dips, mousses and fillings.

            1. e
              Evil Ronnie RE: JS Jan 5, 2004 01:50 PM

              Colleen is correct...aka pacific black cod.

              1. s
                Spoony Bard RE: JS Jan 6, 2004 06:22 AM

                Thanks for the informative thread, all!

                JS, Brent's Deli in Northridge, CA calls BBQ cod what I'm now led to believe is actually smoked sable. No clue why they would do this. The reddish orange color, perhaps? Anyone else noticed this?

                1 Reply
                1. re: Spoony Bard
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                  Dave RE: Spoony Bard Jan 6, 2004 09:00 AM

                  Sable is traditionally dusted with paprika.

                2. m
                  marigold21 RE: JS Jun 20, 2014 06:00 PM

                  I grew up in Chicago in the 1940's and believed that everyone had smoked sable and bagels on Sunday mornings. This delusion came to a swift halt when my family moved to Houston in the 50's, a fate worse than death for a Jewish foodie!
                  I escaped from Houston and met the real thing on the west coast of Vancouver island where it was lightly smoked and even more fantastic than memory served! Many years passed and then I made my last move to the central Oregon coast. There are black cod here, but it sells for $20. - $24 per pound and when it's smoked it's salty and greasy and nasty. I can order it from Canada and get the good stuff but it's then almost $50.00 per pound. I'm having unrequited cravings. Help!.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: marigold21
                    Ttrockwood RE: marigold21 Jun 20, 2014 06:23 PM

                    You may want to ask on your local board but smoked sable is expensive everywhere now. In a recent nyc thread someone found a good price at whole foods, so check with yours

                    1. re: Ttrockwood
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                      Puffin3 RE: Ttrockwood Jun 21, 2014 07:19 AM

                      Grey cod/Black cod/Black sea bass/Sable fish/Pollock. These names are used interchangeably in the restaurant industry.
                      Only the dudes actually fishing on the boats know what they are catching......most of them anyway.
                      Once the fish are off-loaded and processed who the hell knows what the fillets really are.
                      This I can promise you though.
                      Whatever price the fisherman is paid for the least expensive/prized fish somehow that fish becomes much more valuable per pound with a 'name-change' on the invoice the restaurant pays the purveyor.
                      As if by magic that cheap pollock fillet becomes an expensive sable fish fillet 'in-transit'.

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