Inspired by one of my favorite childhood dishes, Chinese poached black cod is a traditional Chinese way to prepare fish simply. It is full of flavor and delicious served with hot steamed rice.
The Chinese love their fish.
And their preferred way of cooking fish is by either steaming or poaching.
Not cut into sticks and breaded and fried. Not heavily battered...and fried.
Moist-heat cooking methods are the way to go with many Chinese fish dishes...and with good reason! They're not only healthier, they're also delicious!
Black Cod is one of my favorite dishes from when I was growing up. My mom steamed it, as she did with most fish she served us, but as I've happily discovered, poaching also works!
Black cod is also known as sablefish or butterfish...and oddly enough, is not actually part of the cod family!
If you've never had black cod, it is most similar to Chilean sea bass. It is a firm white fish, and when cooked, it is smooth, has a velvety texture, and melts in your mouth. They don't call it butterfish for nothing!
This poached black cod is prepared and served in a traditional Chinese way. Flavored simply with julienned ginger, green onions, soy sauce, and sesame oil, it is one of the most basic and common ways to serve fish, whether at home or in Chinese restaurants.
And while simple in ingredients and cooking method, it is rich on flavor...and comfort!
There's nothing like a serving of this poached black cod on some white rice for a really good, satisfying home meal.
I didn't appreciate all the ginger and green onions when I was younger. Much like my boys do now, I picked them all of so I could enjoy the "uncontaminated" fish with my rice! However, now I'm happy to say I really like how much flavor and texture the ginger and green onion add to the fish...my taste buds grew up!
As I said, this was one of my favorite dishes growing up, and it still is. If you want to see and taste why the Chinese like to cook their fish by moisture-heat methods, this poached black cod is just what you need!
Chinese Poached Black Cod
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tbs light olive oil
- 1 ½ lbs black cod (sablefish) filets cut into large pieces
- 2-3 green onion stalks
- 1 knob ginger, about the size of a small lemon
- 2 tbs soy sauce (tamari for gluten-free)
- 1 tbs sesame oil
- If working with a whole side of fish, cut the fish into large pieces that will fit in a single layer in your pan.
- Peel ginger and slice. Then julienne the slices. Set aside.
- Chop green onions into 1-2" lengths. Set aside.
- In large saucepan, heat water and light olive oil over medium heat.
- Once water starts steaming, arrange fish pieces in a single layer in the pan.
- Add ginger and reduce heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Add green onion to the pan replace lid; cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add soy sauce and sesame oil to the poaching liquid and mix; spoon over the fish.
- Transfer fish to a serving dish, ladling the sauce over the fish.
- Serve with rice.
- This recipe will work with fish steaks.
- Other fish that works well with this method is Chilean sea bass or halibut.
- You can also steam the fish instead of poaching it, but skip adding water to the dish with the fish.
If you make this poached black cod, share your photo on Facebook or Instagram and tag me @dayinthekitchen!
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This post was originally published on April 23, 2017, but was republished in Feburary 2019 with new photos, instructional photos, and updated written content.
Best fish recipe ever! Have ordered this in chinese/Japanese restaurants for big bucks and it is so easy and delicious to make at home. Thank you for sharing. I made it exactly as recommended and paired with rice and green beans with almonds. Mild butterly texture and flavor. Excellent for people who don’t like spicy anything. For people who want a kick like my hubby I added ‘slap your mama’ to the green beans.
Hi Tweedy! Thank you so much for making this recipe and for leaving a comment. I'm so glad you liked it!
This was definitely a win for my family! I made the recipe exactly as is, except that I needed a little less water, since my black cod had previously been frozen. I added 3 tbsp of soy sauce and 1 1/2 tbsp of sesame oil to make the flavor a little stronger. My filets weren't very thick, so it didn't take long to cook them. Everyone raved about how good this was! Will make this one again!
That sounds great, Lindsay! Thanks for making the recipe and I'm glad everyone enjoyed it!