Friday, February 25, 2005

the many delights of sablefish

If I had to vote for "tastiest fish ever", I would totally vote for sablefish. They are ugly (which probably explains why they're never sold whole in retail shops) but boy do they ever taste good. And not only that, but they're soooo easy to cook. The flesh is firm, flaky and slightly oily/moist (like halibut, but without the possibility of dryness) but it has way more flavour than halibut or cod or other white fish. It's not an intense flavour like salmon or tuna though.

But I digress. Our meal last night consisted of soba noodles, blanched chard (it's getting a bit tough and chewy for the steam-treatment) and a thoroughly tasty little bit of sablefish:

Maple-Sambal Sablefish

2 small (3-oz) fillets of sablefish
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp sambal oelek (or more, if yours isn't that zingy)
1 tbsp soy sauce
chinese cooking wine

Preheat the oven to 400F, and put a small skillet (big enough to hold the 2 pieces of fish) on a medium burner to heat up. Score the skin of the fish so it doesn't go all curly when it starts cooking, and rub the skin side with sesame oil. Combine the maple syrup, sambal and soy sauce in a small bowl.

When the pan is hot enough, place the fillets in skin side down. Brush the tops with the maple stuff, a couple of times until they're nice and slathered. Sablefish is a bit absorbent so you'll see the glaze seep in a bit.

Cook on the stovetop for about 3-5 minutes, until the glaze bits that drip off start to look like they might want to begin burning. Splash a little chinese cooking wine into the skillet to prevent that, brush the fish again with the glaze, and throw the pan into the preheated oven for 6-8 minutes. If you forget and they're in there longer, don't worry. It's virtually impossible to overcook sablefish (one of its many virtues).

Check fish for doneness (should flake easily with the point of a knife). If it's done, remove it from the pan, put the pan back on the stovetop, and turn up the heat. There will be stickies. Throw a bit more cooking wine in before they start to burn and reduce until you've got a wee bit of a sauce. Toss in any of the glaze that's left.

Serve on a green vegetable and brown rice or soba. Yummmmmeeeeeee.


Anonymous MA said...

why did you heat the oven to 400°?

7:19 AM  
Blogger spughy said...

Sablefish is pretty bulletproof and can be cooked at a pretty high heat. I usually finish anything that's going to have a pan sauce in the oven because the stickies that make the pan sauce good are less prone to burning in the oven than they are on the stovetop. So, a few minutes on the stove, then pop it in the oven.

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loves me some sablefish. The smoked sablefish at Pescatore's is awesome.

- Jim

11:22 PM  
Anonymous ChowChow said...

Sablefish is yummy! I'm just so sad that a couple of years ago while fishing in Haines, AK, I caught one from shore and ended up letting it go because I didn't know what it was (and it looked ugly)!

After having a similar incident occur with a Cabezon, which is also ugly but tasty, Sarah convinced me of a good philosophy:

If you catch a fish that you've never seen before and looks ugly, keep it! If it's not tasty, then it's probably not endangered. If it is tasty, then score (and hopefully its bad looks keep it off the prized fish list).

8:46 AM  

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