How to butcher black cod?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by amuse_bouche, Oct 30, 2011.

  1. amuse_bouche

    amuse_bouche

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    Hi all, just wondering:

    How does one fabricate black cod fish?  Is it similar to regular cod or other roundfish?  One person told me the scales are really delicate and don't need to be removed and that the pin bones are strange.  Not sure what they mean as I've never even seen one whole but need to butcher one later this week.

    Any help on this would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. chefedb

    chefedb

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    I have done Black Cod many times and have found it a slight bit smaller then the cod from New England waters. I find cutting it the same as any other fish of the cod family.

    Cut properly you should not encounter any problems with pin bones, just have a needle nose pliers handy to help get them out.  To be honest with you I find taste wise it is same as Atlantic cod ,maybe not  quite as firm a texture though. When you can get it it's about 25% more $
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2011
  3. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Black cod is a pacific fish, and not like other cod particularly,  It's also known as sable.

    1.  Scale (they need to be scaled, whoever told you otherwise was wrong).  Rinse

    2.  Slit the belly, rinse

    3.  Cut behind the gills, parallel, lean into the bone

    4.  Turn the fish, cut behind the gills, parallel, cut through the bone.

    5.  Remove the head, fins, internal gill structure, lungs, guts.  It should all come as one piece.

    6.  Discard the soft parts, save the head and fin for stock.

    7.  Rinse the cavity, throurghly; use the point of your knife to make sure it's clean.

    8.  Trim the dorsal fins and ventral fins.  Reserve for stock.

    9.  Cut all the way down the back, from head to tail, using the backbone as a guide.  Remove the fillet.

    10.  Turn the fish, repeat.  Rerserve the backbone for stock.

    11.  The rib cages will have been cut through at the backbone and stayed with the fillets.  Remove them intact from fillet.

    12.  Pick the pin bones using tweezers or pliers.  Black cod pin bones are large and determined. 

    13.  Skin if desired, by pulling the fillet, head to tail, against a "wiggling" knife.

    14.  Portion the fillets as desired.

    I use a 7" chef's knife for the first part, and a suji for steps 13 and 14.  It's my take on the Japanese deba/yanagiba combo.  You can use whatever you want, as long as they're sharp. 

    Don't hesitate or make tiny or indefinite strokes when fabricating fish.  Even if it's not something you do often, do it assertively.  Otherwise your cuts will be ragged.

    Black cod (aka sable) falls apart very easily when grilled.  Oil the heck out of the grill and the fish.  If you're using a basket, oil the heck out of that too.  Grilled, pan-roasted, or whatever, sable can overcook very easily if you don't pay attention.  So, pay attention.  Yes, you.

    Sable might well be best known as a smoked fish, and is certainly good smoked, whole. 

    BDL
     
  4. amuse_bouche

    amuse_bouche

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    Thanks so much for your help!!!
     
  5. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Sable is the mainstay along with Whitefish and if one can afford it ,Sturgeon  when smoked  at any NYC Deli. They are all a must on a smoked fish platter.
     
  6. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    BDL, if I'm reading you right, you remove the head before fileting? Why do you do that, when it's just extra effort?

    The best way of fileting uses the mass of the fish as an anchor. Lay the fish down horizontally. Make the first cut just behind the gills. This cut should be sort of on the bias, angling towards the head, with the blade itself angled slightly towards the tail. Cut straight down until the backbone stops you.

    Slice towards the tail, cutting through the ribs along the way. If you're going to remove the skin, cut to, but not through the tail. Flip the filet over, using the tail skin as a hinge, and remove the flesh from the skin.

    Turn the fish and repeat on the other side.

    FWIW, I would not remove the skin if I intended grilling this fish.
     
     
  7. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    The way I take the head takes the gill mass, lungs, and guts as well; so cutting off the head is part of cleaning.  It's the regular Japanese style for fabricating a fish where the head will not be presented.  It's easier to take a fillet with the head off, especially using a wide knife like a deba or chef's, because it's not necessary to turn the knife.  I use Japanese sequence with western style knives, because (a) works for me; and (b) good, left-handed deba and yanagiba are expensive.

    Your way is fine, too.  Whatever works.

    If you want really clean fabrication, with glass smooth faces, the real keys are sharp knife, and confident movements.  As little sawing as possible (none is best).  No hesitation cuts.  Other aspects of technique are less important.

    BDL
     
  8. maryb

    maryb

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    I filet KY's way but that was learned on walleye, northern pike and panfish.
     
  9. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    the real keys are sharp knife, and confident movements

    Absolutely!

     walleye, northern pike and panfish.

    Interesting, Mary, cuz I actually do Northerns and musky differently, to avoid the Y bones. But any other fish I filet is done as outlined.

    Although it seems to be the more modern way, I rarely filet large salmonids, such as salmon and steelhead. If I fabricate them at all, I more often steak them than anything else. Same goes for many salt-water fish.
     
  10. chefedb

    chefedb

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    I filet both ways depending on kind of fish Whole Salmon I start at tail and work towrd head, snapper same., Sea bass toward tail

    Dover sole skin first by pulling toward head , then length wise down center of fish from  head to tail on sharp angle first left side then right.( one of most time consuming fish because of skin removal and sea bass because bones go in all directions.)
     
  11. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Ed, is it just habit? Or do you have reasons for starting some at the tail and some at the head?
     
  12. amuse_bouche

    amuse_bouche

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    By the way, roughly how large is black cod?
     
  13. maryb

    maryb

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    I don't mind the Y bones in pike, just pick them out as you eat /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif
     
  14. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    I understand, Mary.

    When our eldest was about 8 or 9 he got a fishbone stuck in his tonsil. Took a trip to the ER to get it out. Ever since then I go overboard avoiding any bones in fish.
     
  15. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Posted by amuse_bouche  

    Anything bigger than 6 lbs is a big fish.  You often seem them around 3 - 4 lbs.   They're called "sable" as often as "black cod,"  and are not true cod. They really take well to cold-smoking, especially skin-on, whole.

    BDL
     
  16. chefedb

    chefedb

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    KY  I do salmon like this so I can hold the tail in left hand and cut up towards head, the king salmon I get are so bloody and oily I find it easier to control. The sea bass I think because of the directions that of the hodge podge  bones take, to me it makes me better able to go around them with less waste. Sea bass if cut wrong has tremendous waste.

    Black cod or sable like BDL says 4 pounds  is close to max after fileting each side 2 lb max.