Pan Simmered Pacific Black Cod

DinnerQuick and EasyJapaneseLow Carb

Pacific black cod (sable fish) cooked in a broth of sake, rice vinegar, soy sauce and oil, delicious!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Have you ever tried pacific black cod (also known as sable fish)?

It’s a delicate, fatty fish, sustainably fished, filled with good Omega-3s, and absolutely delicious.

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The Whole Foods in my neighborhood has been carrying it with regularity. Here is a beautifully simple way to prepare it, taught to me by my friend and avid fisherman Hank Shaw.

The fillets are simmered in a Japanese-style broth of sake, soy sauce, rice vinegar, oil, and ginger. While the fillets are cooking, you spoon the simmering sauce over the top of the fillets so that the top gets infused with the sauce as well. The fillets are then topped with toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced green onions.

Hank brines his fillets first, to firm up the flesh before cooking. I could go either way with this. If you have time, brine the fish (instructions are in the notes to the recipe), if not, just be more careful with handling the cooked fish, as it is rather delicate.

Pacific Black Cod or Sable Fish

If you have a favorite way of preparing Pacific black cod, please let us know about it in the comments!

Pan Simmered Pacific Black Cod Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3-4

Pacific black cod (sablefish) have long pin bones along the sides of their fillets that are difficult to remove before the fish has been cooked. Once the fillets have been cooked, however, they are easily removed with tweezers or needle-nosed pliers.

Pacific black cod falls apart easily. If you want your result to be more firmly textured, brine the fillets in a salt brine of 1/4 cup of salt to 1 quart of water plus 2 cups of crushed ice for 20 minutes.

Sea bass fillets also work with this recipe. Sea bass fillets are thicker though, so you would want to simmer them on both sides for several minutes until cooked through.


  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds black cod fillets, skin on or skinless
  • 1/4 cup sake
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup canola, rice bran or other neutral oil
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • Dark sesame oil, for garnish
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds, for garnish


1 Prepare sauce: In a large sauté pan, mix the sake, rice vinegar, canola oil, soy sauce and ginger. Bring to a simmer on medium to medium high heat.

2 Simmer fish in sauce: Lay each fillet in the pan. (If using skin-on fillets, place the fillets skin-side down in the pan.) Use a spoon to baste the tops of each fillet until you see the flakes of the fish separate a little, which should take about 30 seconds to 1 minute per fillet.

Let the fish simmer for 3-6 minutes, depending on how thick they are. Estimate 3 minutes for a 1/4 inch-thick fillet, up to 6 minutes for an inch-thick fillet.

Gently move the fish to individual plates. If you want, use (clean) needle-nosed pliers or tweezers to remove the pin bones in the fillets.

3 Reduce sauce: Increase the heat on the sauce and boil vigorously for 1 minute, stirring constantly to reduce the sauce.

4 Serve: Spoon a tablespoon or more of the sauce over each fillet and discard the rest. Drizzle a little bit of sesame oil over each fillet, then garnish with the green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

Serve immediately.

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Nobu's Miso Marinated Black Cod, from The Kitchn

Black Cod with Summer Vegetables, from Use Real Butter

Black Cod with A Salad of Beets, Carrots and Radishes, from Cannelle at Vanille

Pan Simmered Pacific Black Cod

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

42 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Roxanne

    A keeper- Delicious! Great recipe with pantry staples ( I keep ginger slices in freezer for just this kind of dish). Served with slices of baked sweet potato (great with the sauce) and cucumber. We usually do the Nobu recipe with black cod, takes some planning- so loved this for an easy and flavorful meal


  2. Zack

    Turned out amazing. Followed the recipe exactly. Very very good and will be making it again. Thank you!!


  3. Szula

    Wonderful. I did not have sake and used a very dry white wine instead. Superb. Can’t wait to repeat it with sake. I also used cucumbers along with the scallions for garnish.


  4. Dean

    Fantastic, and very simple. Used 1/2 the amount of fresh ginger (not in love with ginger). Thought it might have a strong vinegar taste but not true at all. This is going to be a recipe I make again and again. I especially love it because you can use one pan to do the whole recipe. Just toast the sesame seeds in the pan first, remove, then add the liquid ingredients directly to the pan.


  5. Helen

    It was so yummy and easy to prepare. I will definitely be using this recipe again.


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