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Sablefish: The Jewel of Alaska

by Nikolai Nikitenko March 15, 2016 1 Comment

Sablefish: The Jewel of Alaska

There is a large demand for products in the US that contain Omega-3 Fatty Acids. People buy everything from supplements to products that naturally contain it in order to supply their bodies with this vital oil. For the most part people know that salmon is a great source of Omega-3, but they often look past another Omega-3 rich fish. The Sablefish is a major fishery in the US and it even contains more Omega-3 than any wild salmon.
Sablefish is found often in the North Pacific Ocean at great depths around 300 to 2,700 Meters (1,000 to 9,000 feet). It is an opportunistic predator and feeds on Pollock, Eulachon, Capelin, Herring, Sandlance, Pacific Cod, Squids, Krill and Jellyfish. Some of their prey produces natural bioluminescence, which can be a danger to the Sablefish if it eats it. Having a lit up stomach can warn other prey of the Sablefish’s presence, and can even attract other predators up the food chain. To avoid this the inner lining of the Sablefish’s stomach is lined with a jet-black film that keeps any bioluminescence from giving away its location. Sablefish are known to live up to around 94 years of age and can grow up to 40 Lbs. in weight.
Sablefish has been known by many names since migrating fishermen in the 1840s discovered it. At that time there was not much of an understanding between the species in the Pacific Ocean, so much of what was caught was dubbed under the title of “cod”. Today we have renamed most of the fish that were given that title, but a few species of fish are still stuck with it. Lingcod, for example, has no relation to the Atlantic Cod, Pacific Cod, or the Ling; yet it still bears its name. Since then, many people still recognize Sablefish as Black Cod due to its dark gray skin, even though it also has no relation to any species of Cod. Depending where you go in the US, UK and Canada, you can still hear it referred to as Black Cod, Blue Cod, Bluefish, Candlefish, Coal Cod, Coalfish, Beshow and Skilfish.
Today there is still a very large fishery for Sablefish in Alaska and Canada. Even though there is a good market demand in the US and Canada for this fish, the majority of Sablefish production is exported out to Japan. In Japan, Sablefish is considered a great delicacy and can be found grilled, smoked, fried and even served as sushi. The most popular method for cooking Sablefish is to marinate it in a Miso Paste marinade for a few days, and then to bake it in an oven. This cooking method greatly brings out the fattiness of the fish, and adds a very delicately flavored glaze onto the fillets. Sablefish is considered to be very healthy as it contains allot of Omega-3 Fatty Acid, EPA and DHA oils. These oils help in promoting good heart health and are known to boost cognitive brain function. Many people would compare the flavor of the Black Cod to that of the Patagonian Toothfish (AKA Chilean Sea Bass).
With a very healthy and maintained biomass, the Sablefish will be around for a very long time. Even with the fishery surrounding the harvest of this fish, scientists believe that there is no threat to the population of the Sablefish. This means that we will be able to enjoy this amazing fish for generations to come! But with a growing demand for Sablefish in North America and in Japan, the already premium price for it has already begun to rise.

Nikolai Nikitenko
Nikolai Nikitenko


1 Response

November 07, 2016

I have yet to try sablefish, it is not something I have seen sold in the Northeast.

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