Roasted Whole Sablefish (Black Cod)

Roasted Whole Sablefish (Black Cod)
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Asian cultures cook and serve whole fish all the time, so when I saw a fresh whole sablefish (black cod) at the store, my jaw dropped and I couldn’t wait to take it home and enjoy it roasted at home. My favorite dish at Japanese restaurants is Miso Roasted Black Cod. Cooking a whole fish will not have the same caramelization on the face of a steak or filet. However, I think the flavor of fish is more intense. Black Cod has incredible as the texture is incredibly tender and the flavor is buttery; so much, this is also known as “butterfish.”

Filleted fish is great – its clean, deboned and ready to cook, but what are you missing? Asians believe that the head and the tail are good luck. Thus, the fish head is often offered to guests or senior members of a household as a respectful gesture. The flavor of the fish is most concentrated in the head and therefore, awesome to use for soup stock!

A few tips to purchasing, preparing and enjoying whole fish:

  • Are you a frugal friend? Whole fish is much cheaper than fileted fish!
  • A fish is fresh if the eyes are bright and protruding. White or glossy sunken eyes or a fishy smell indicate the fish is not fresh.
  • Scaling a fish is messy, (scale fish outdoors if possible), but easily done with a butter knife or back of a regular knife with a strong edge. Push or/and scrape the scales against the grain. The scales will just flake off! <no pun intended 😉 >
  • Whole fish provides an opportunity to save the head for soup stock and consume more Omega-3 fatty acids, as the Omega-3 content is significantly higher in fish skin, than in the flesh. About 1.5 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids per 100g of fish per Oregon State University
  • Doneness can be assessed by inserting a thermometer probe straight in and out of the flesh. For sablefish, I removed my Roasted Whole Sablefish from the oven at 155-160F based on the various fleshy points on the fish.
  • Don’t forget to enjoy the fish cheeks! These morsels are the most tender pieces you will enjoy!

Black Cod is a real treat. Its one of the more forgiving fish to roast, as its rich in flavor and Omega-3s; I think a perfect fit for “healthy” for this week’s Supper Challenge!

Roasted Whole Sablefish

Roasted Whole Sablefish (Black Cod)

Course Fish, Main Course


  • Parchment paper
  • Baking sheet
  • Butter knife or stiff knife


  • Whole sablefish (black cod)
  • 2 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons sake or white wine


  • lemon cut into wedges
  • Japanese mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 300F
  • Using a butter knife or the back of a stiff knife, place fish on flat surface and scale by pushing the knife against the grain. The scales should fly off the fish and may be a bit muddy. Rinse well under cold water.
  • Clean the fish by pressing down on the side of the fish, make a slit along the belly and remove the soft innards and discard.
  • Lay the sablefish onto a parchment laid baking sheet.
    Whole Sablefish (black cod)
  • In a small bowl, mix the miso paste, mirin and sake or white wine.
  • Using a brush, generously brush the miso mixture into the cavity in the fish.
  • Generously brush the miso mixture onto the exterior skin of the fish.
  • Place fish into oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 135F.
    Roasting sablefish (black cod)
  • Remove from oven and serve immediately with salt and pepper, lemon and japanese mayonnaise. (It can be difficult to move onto a serving platter if the sablefish is large. This was >5lbs) Serving on baking sheet is not pretty, but functional.
    Roasted Sablefish (Black Cod)
Keyword black cod, butterfish, fish, sablefish

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