Today’s recipe is a meal for a special occasion. It’s sablefish, that species of deep-sea fish common to the North Pacific Ocean. The fish is also known as black cod. Now, let me say it up front, sable is not cheap. It’s one of the kings of fishes in terms of price. Why? Well, another nickname for sable is “butterfish.” That’s because it’s fattier than Pacific cod or halibut, which gives a luxurious mouthful, but milder than salmon or tuna. It has a creamy white flesh balanced by a black skin that gives the fish a rich buttery flavor and a smooth silky texture. Every bite is heavenly.
Given its pedigree, sablefish it’s best prepared by simple pan-frying. No fancy sauces, preparation or crusting for this sucker. Simple cooking lets you savor the depth of flavor in sablefish. The easiest way to cook is with a simple mix of garlic powder, salt, black pepper and oregano. For the recipe given, I still had some fresh herbs leftover from my summer plantings. They were tarragon, thyme and sweet marjoram, and that’s what I used. If you don’t have fresh, you can substitute dried. And it can be herbs of your choice. You can use sage, dill, rosemary, chives, whatever is available. Cooked in butter, or a butter/olive oil combo, and you have an easy but fabulous dinner.
4 6-ounce sablefish fillets
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh sweet marjoram or 1 teaspoon dried
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons dry white wine
- Rinse fillets under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
- Brush with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season well on both sides of fillets with the tarragon, thyme and sweet marjoram. Sprinkle with garlic powder.
- In a large skillet or frying pan, heat the butter and reaming 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sablefish fillets and cook about 3 minutes per side. In the end the fish should be golden brown on the outside but opaque white on the inside. Add white wine and cook over high heat, one minute more. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 servings.