Why You Should Be Eating More Sablefish

It's an unfortunate truth that most people are probably only familiar with the four or five types of fish that grace their grocery store sushi counter or local Italian restaurant. But while favorites like Atlantic salmon, Atlantic cod, tuna, and Chilean sea bass are popular for a reason, they are often expensive and overfished, resulting in low sustainability scores, according to Good Housekeeping. It can be both financially and environmentally beneficial, then, to take a chance on one of the many underrated fish derogatorily known as "trash fish" or "bait fish."

One of these fabulously overlooked swimmers is the sablefish, which is generally available fresh or frozen from March through November (per The Spruce Eats). Sablefish, native to the Pacific Northwest, can be found everywhere from Mexico to the Bering Sea, and is often referred to as black cod... but though sablefish resembles cod, the two fish have nothing to do with one another. Sablefish is about twice as expensive as cod, but far more flavorful, occasionally called butterfish for its rich, fatty texture and silky taste, according to Alaskan Salmon Company.

Would you believe that, in addition to containing some shocking health benefits, sablefish is also remarkably versatile, and can stand in more economically for many of your favorite animal proteins?

Sablefish is a healthy and flavorful alternative to salmon and other fish

Sablefish is a healthy alternative to red meat or poultry, with more than a thousand milligrams of Omega-3s per 4 oz serving, putting it on par with nutrient-rich heavyweights like salmon and trout (via Seafood Nutrition Partnership). But while The Guardian notes the high environmental impact that salmon farming has on marine ecosystems through the propagation of pollution and parasites, sablefish is a relatively low-impact and sustainable sea critter (via Smithsonian). According to the FDA, sablefish is also well within the realm of safe mercury levels, and far below those of swordfish, tuna, and mackerel.

The most famous sablefish recipe in recent history is the miso-marinated black cod from Nobu, which requires the miso marinade to be prepared three days in advance before the fish gets a quick and dirty sear (via The Kitchn). But don't sweat it if that much advance prep intimidates you. Sablefish is delicious when prepared in a myriad of ways, whether pan-seared with morels and asparagus, steamed with sweet potatoes and dried shrimp, or cooked en papillote with ground cherries. According to The Spruce Eats, sablefish is a prime choice for amateur cooks, since its high-fat content makes it more difficult to overcook than other drier white fish. This also means that it's a great substitution for fatty salmon when it comes to making smoked fish or ceviche.