It’s oily, it’s a little gritty-ish in places, it’s sometimes thick like halibut – and comes in these weird kind of chopped up bits, fins on…. just the collar of a fish, I suppose….
It’s also known as Butterfish (which is extremely appropriate, given its texture) or Sablefish, and the collar is exactly the part you think it is – along with the throat muscles.
It’s sorta funky looking at first, but once cooked, it’s a pretty attractive meal. Attractive looking, at least. I, for one, am not a fan. And I don’t say that a lot. Not unlike Andrew Zimmern, my personal hero (I know, I know – you Anthony Bourdain fans will harass me for a decade, but that’s the not point of this post) – I too, will eat pretty much anything; and very little of that “pretty much anything” will I say I genuinely dislike. Black cod collar has made it onto that very small list that so far only includes stinky tofu and burdock. And when I say “dislike”, I mean I can’t even swallow it. I’ll find the good in just about anything (though that doesn’t mean that I’m not picky…It’s complicated….).
I can see, however, where it has a big following – it’s distinct, for sure. The oiliness is rich, and with the skin, the texture can be wacky – with a crispiness, followed by a melt-in-your-mouth creaminess, and yet still the lightness of fish. *Apparently, though, this specific texture is from the extremely high omega3 content (3201mg per serving!) in the flesh, so high-5 to the black cod.
The taste, the texture is all a little confusing, to be honest. But it’s entirely possible that because I had never had it before, the way I cooked it just didn’t do it justice.
On the other hand, my other half loved it and won’t stop talking about it. He wants to have a dinner party and cook it again to get second opinions. I’m all for it, and I know you’ll all be on the edge of your seats for Black Cod Collar Pt. 2
So here it goes. Your first guide to black cod collar.
It will probably come with the fins on (see picture way at the top).
Use some kitchen shears to cut off the fins, like you see here.
Then, cut (with a knife, not scissors … duh) it into reasonably even pieces where you can. There will be real big pieces of some serious bones that you might not be able to cut through. Don’t worry to much about it. Just do the best you can. It’ll end up about like this:
And check out these beefy parts:
Now that it’s all trimmed and cut up, get together a marinade and let it sit in there for a couple hours before grilling on high heat. A lot of recipes I’ve seen online suggest miso, teriyaki or similarly based marinades. I personally think these would be way too rich for this fish. I’ll give you the ingredients for the marinade I did, but without measurements because this is all about experimenting with it on your own. I would do a pretty vinegar-y and heavily spice based marinade to cut through the oiliness and serve it with a salad of a spicy green – arugula, mizuna etc., and after grilling the fish, cut it into smaller pieces to keep it real mild that way. It would be great as a small plate rather than a full sized entree.
Another suggestion – if you do a heavily spiced (dry spices) marinade, it would help get a good crust on the skin and around the rest of the fish, too, which would help cut the fattiness and get a good texture contrast going.
- Minced Torpedo (or red) Onion
- Minced Garlic
- White Pepper
- Black Pepper
- Ground Ginger
- Olive Oil
- White Wine
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Habanero Hot Sauce
The thing that makes it so easy to experiment with is that it’s pretty inexpensive when you get it at the Korean/Japanese/Chinese grocery stores – and it’s seriously fresh as can be. If the store you’re shopping at has full black cod and a fish butcher (which, I sure hope it does, otherwise, you better start getting your fish somewhere else) you can ask them to butcher the collar and they will, no biggie.
The one thing I will strongly recommend, though, certainly is grilling it.
We grilled it on two levels of heat to test the flavor of each way, and you can see where it got crusty and crispy, and the other side (the lower heat) didn’t. (Big shock.)
Criiiiiiispy skin. High heat.
Not crispy. Low heat.
The crispy was better than the not crispy, but both were still “not for me” as they politely say. The dude loved both, but also preferred the crispy. But who wouldn’t? It’s like fishy fried chicken.
Give it a shot! It’s fun to experiment with food! And lemme know how it goes….