Why Blackcod is NOT Cod

Many seafood lovers misuse the name “Cod” when referring to Sablefish–including my husband 😂 Unfortunately for Sablefish, its nickname is “Blackcod,” which leads many to believe that it is a member of the Cod family.

The Latin name is Anaplopoma fimbria. Try saying that 10x. In the harvest and processing sector it took on the nick name “Blackcod” for no good reason and now we are left with an identity crisis. But truth be told, this fish isn’t even related to the cod family.

201701_Sablefish Species Shot_CMYK-Web - Medium
Notice the obvious difference in appearance alone

201701_Cod Species Shot_CMYK-Web - Medium

So it’s understandable that people mistake Blackcod for Cod. While both are delicious in their own ways, it’s important to note that Blackcod remains exclusive in many ways….not just in price.

Sablefish is best described as the ‘Fillet Mignon’ of Alaskan whitefish or ‘Sea Butter.’ In Hawaii it is known as Butter Fish, and it is often described as a cousin to the Chilean Sea Bass. In contrast, Cod is more like halibut; it’s white and flaky but firmer and leaner than Sablefish with a milder taste. Cod is excellent for sandwiches, fish sticks, tacos or any one of these favorite recipes.

blackcod vs cod

But this is often where I have the most fun entertaining guests. I love seeing the reaction when introducing Sablefish to first timers and even those who claim to not like fish.

Their eyes literally light up with the first bite, and they start asking all kinds of questions about how to cook it, where to get it, and why they’ve never heard of it before.

200605 Honey Broiled Black Cod 1-Web - Medium
Blackcod’s unique texture and flavor profile is enhanced by Asian cooking techniques, such as soy, ginger and miso marinades. Seen here is Alaska Sablefish Marinated with a blend of soy and Acacia Honey.

Sablefish (aka ‘Blackcod’) maintains an elegant uniqueness that is delicate in flavor and velvety in texture. It’s known for high omega 3 oil content and is thus difficult to over cooking. For example, cook Blackcod a little more than you think you should and salmon a little less.

Fully grown Sablefish live at depths from 150 to 1500 meters below the surface and are harvested by commercial longline fishermen or with pots. This video we made below shows our method of Blackcod Fishing via longline aboard the F/V Kruzof.

Foreign consumers, mostly the Japanese, discovered the unique qualities of Sablefish years ago. To meet this demand, most Sablefish is exported to the global market, and is yet to be truly discovered by American palates.

Per their life cycle, Sablefish undertake migrations of more than 1000 miles and can live over 90 years. The diverse habitat of the Sablefish supports a wide ranging diet of squid, octopus and various crustaceans.

If you still aren’t convinced of the superiority of Sablefish, you’ll be pleased to know they are a sustainable Alaskan fishery product as qualified by both the Alaska Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

So next time you are bragging about your Sablefish or “Blackcod” meal, it’s probably best NOT to call it Cod. After all, it tastes different, it looks different, and it’s already confusing enough with two different names.

Check our recipes for Blackcod or visit Alaska Seafood for more culinary inspiration.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.