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Black Cod

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What is it?

Black cod is one of the richest-tasting fish on the market. It is buttery and luxurious and nearly impossible to overcook.

Unlike the similarly textured Chilean sea bass, black cod is harvested from well-managed Alaskan fisheries, which impose strict catch limits to protect the species from depletion. So black cod populations are not threatened. It’s different, though, for other types of cod, like Atlantic cod, whose worldwide populations have collapsed one by one, with only the northeastern United States population remaining, and Pacific cod, whose fisheries are sustainable but small.

A cook’s dream, black cod is incredibly versatile, lending itself to steaming and braising as well as roasting. It’s delicious in light, delicate preparations, but can also stand up to spicy, aggressive marinades.

How to choose:

When buying skin-on fillets, look for intact skin and make sure the scales were properly removed. Most fish skin is edible and delicious, especially when cooked until crisp.

When shopping for fish, freshness is key. Try to buy fish on the day you plan to cook it, and seek out the freshest fish your market has to offer. Don’t be shy about asking to examine the fish closely. Here’s what to look for:

  • Eyes clear, not gray, cloudy, or sunken
  • Flesh firm to the touch and moist (not mushy or slimy)
  • Gills vibrant and bright red
  • Aroma clean and briny, like the sea (not fishy)

How to store:

Rinse the fish well inside and out. Pat it thoroughly dry, wrap it in paper towels, and store it in a plastic bag in the coldest part of the refrigerator. To slow down spoilage, try this: Put whole fish or fillets in a large strainer set over a bowl. Pile ice high on top of the fish and refrigerate. The ice keeps the fish close to 32°F, and as it melts, the water continually rinses off bacteria and drains it into the bowl. Or put the fish in a plastic bag and set the bag on ice to maintain a temperature close to 33°F (spoilage occurs twice as fast at 40°F as it does at 32°).


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