Pan Simmered Pacific Black Cod

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

Pan Simmered Pacific Black Cod
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.

Pan Simmered Pacific Black Cod
Elise Bauer

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. Elise Bauer

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

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Servings 3 to 4 servings

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 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

  • Dark sesame oil, for garnish

  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, for garnish

  • 1 tablespoon 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.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer

    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.


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
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
598 Calories
49g Fat
3g Carbs
31g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 598
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 49g 63%
Saturated Fat 8g 41%
Cholesterol 107mg 36%
Sodium 565mg 25%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 31g
Vitamin C 2mg 11%
Calcium 109mg 8%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 868mg 18%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.