Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Jul 10, 2006 12:28 AM

Butterfish or Swordfish? [moved thread digression from Canada board]

What tastes better? Butterfish or Swordfish?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. There was a discussion here a few weeks ago about the bad effects of eating butterfish. I wouldn't recommend it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Seattle Rose

      A chef friend of mine turned me off swordfish when he said it almost always has worms in it. This was years ago and I didn't ask him to elaborate or show me, but just the thought of it has put me off swordfish.

      1. re: Seattle Rose

        FYI, there are no known "bad effects" from eating butterfish.

        The poster who shared that information was confusing it with escolar (aka OILFISH.)

        Here's the link to that discussion:

      2. I love a thick, meaty grilled Swordfish steak.

        I serve mine with a mint-basil-jalapeno-macadamia nut pesto that I invented:)

        1. About 25 years ago, butterfish filets were the most common, and cheapest, fish in the markets here in the Bay Area. I haven't seen them in years. Have they stopped catching them? Or has there been a semantic sea-change and they're now called something else?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sharuf

            Butterfish is both a common name and a vernacular name for a lot of different fish species. The FDA encourages fish sellers to use the market name so that it is correctly branded (clear as to what is being sold).

            When you say "Butterfish," perhaps you mean Sablefish? Sablefish, or Anoplopoma fimbria to the marine biologists among us, is also known as Black Cod, Butterfish, Skil, Skilfish, Beshow, and Coalfish.

            If so, you are talking about a species that had been traditionally harvested on the Calfornia coast via trawling.

            Trawling, or dragging heavily weighted nets across the sea bottom to scoop up groundfish, tends to damage the ocean floor as it does so. It also tends to scoop up & kill a lot of fish that aren't being sought for harvest. As a result, sablefish stocks from the California coast are fully fished, the habitat is damaged so the stocks need help to recover, and the regulatory bodies are looking for better ways to stabilize the population.

            Here's a link to a NY Time article about one effort to address this phenomenon.

            Same species, different location: sablefish from the Alaska or British Columbia coasts are caught using different methods and are rated as an excellent seafood choice by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program (

            Monterey Bay also notes that sablefish brings a great price in Japan for sushi, which is why you might not see it among the bargains at your local fish shop.

          2. I would recommend butterfish. Swordfish, along with shark, has some of the highest mercury contents among fish.

            Sometimes, butterfish is mistakenly referred to as sablefish.

            Roy's restaurant makes an excellent butterfish.