Why Is Sablefish So Expensive? (9 Reasons Why)

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Maisie Hughes

Maisie Hughes is a 20-year veteran of the culinary world. She has worked as a chef in some of the most prestigious restaurants in the country, and she currently volunteers her time at local food banks.

There are hundreds of species of fish and each one has different qualities than the next. Some fish can be quite expensive while other common types of fish are very inexpensive.

The cost of fish depends on many varied factors from where the fish is caught to how the market currently is for fish. People will pay a lot of money when something is trendy or marked high dollar.

Why Is Sablefish So Expensive?

1. Great Flavor Profile

Sablefish has a very desired flavor profile because it is high in fat. Sablefish is a whitefish that has a buttery flavor that can pair well with about any side dish.

Due to the higher fat content found in sablefish, the fish tends to stay very moist no matter how you decide to cook the fish. Sablefish is also a very rich-tasting fish and much different than other species.

2. Healthy Choice

Fish has always been an excellent choice for those that want a healthy option for a meal. Sablefish has many great benefits that are filled with Omega-3 fats and fatty acids which can help to:

  • Boost energy
  • Boost metabolism
  • Improve brain function
  • Improve respiratory system
  • Lower risk for cardiovascular disease
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduce blood clots

All of these are a big reason many people enjoy the great-tasting sablefish. Sablefish is also incredibly low in mercury like some other fish out there which makes it a perfect choice.

3. Hard To Find

To find sablefish, fishermen need to go out in very deep waters which requires a larger boat than most have. Sablefish are also bottom feeders which makes it no easy feat to find these fish.

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Some depths to search for sablefish can range from 1,500 to well over 3,000 feet. A traditional boat will not be able to carry the equipment needed to reach the bottom of the ocean.

Even when you have the right boat and equipment you still need to be in the right spot at the right time. Sablefish are sometimes hard to find even when you are in the right locations during their peak seasons.

4. People Will Pay

When a certain item becomes popular in high-end restaurants or trendy it makes everyone want to buy it. When people are willing to pay top dollar for something the cost will increase.

Sablefish is also hard to come by which makes the demand for it that much greater. Fishermen and other suppliers can increase the cost to whatever they would like to make.

5. Hard To Catch

Sablefish are not easy fish to catch and typically require a heavy-duty fishing boat and an experienced fisherman. To make the trip worth the cost fishermen do not use a typical fishing rod and reel.

Instead, fishermen use large traps made up of steel frames and netting. The fish will smell the bait inside of the trap and make their way into the traps.

Professional fishermen will catch as many fish as they are legally able to. They are protected by the government and require certain permits to fish for sablefish.

Some fishermen do not think catching sablefish is worth all of the hassle and paperwork when it is so hard to catch them.

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6. High-End Fish

High-End Fish

People love the rich and buttery flavor that is left in their mouths after taking a bite of sablefish. Many people find it to be their favorite type of fish.

High-end restaurants love how the fish can be made into any type of dish. Due to sablefish being hard to find and catch it makes for a fancy style of meal that can draw a crowd in.

7. Extremely Versatile

Not only can sablefish be paired with any dish you can also cook it in about any way imaginable. There are few types of fish that can be cooked any way you’d like while staying tender and moist.

Sablefish can be made in many different ways such as:

  • Bake
  • Broil
  • Fry
  • Grilling
  • Pressure cooker
  • Sauté
  • Smoking

It truly does not matter what your favorite way to make sablefish is, it will come out perfectly every time. The extremely high-fat content found in sablefish makes cooking it foolproof.

If you enjoy sushi, sablefish can also be eaten raw. All of these options make for a remarkably simple type of food that can be made and eaten any way you’d like.

8. Sablefish Is Popular

Sablefish is extremely popular due to the ways it can be cooked and how great it tastes. Restaurants love to use it as it is a much higher quality of fish than found in your everyday restaurant.

When there is any type of food that is not found in every restaurant it makes people think that it is more valuable. This then makes the food even more popular.

9. High Shipping Costs

Shipping any type of goods can cost quite a bit of money. When it comes to fish it can cost a lot to get them quickly across countries or states. While fish can be frozen many people want it shipped fresh.

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Most sablefish are found around the pacific west coast so for those not in that area the fish will need to be shipped. Fish needs to be shipped quickly to keep it as fresh as possible.

The last thing a restaurant wants is to pay a lot for fish that has gone bad. Fresh fish has to be overnighted which is expensive.

Some sablefish can weigh over one hundred pounds which adds to the shipping cost when being flown quickly to a different state.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why salmon is so expensive, why oysters are so expensive, and why seafood is so expensive.


Sablefish may be a little on the expensive side, but the taste and versatility alone make it worth the cost. If you are not able to make it on your own, you can typically find sablefish at high-end restaurants.

For those that cannot afford sablefish, other options favor the fish texture and taste. While other fish species won’t taste exactly like sablefish, they are less expensive and still delicious.


  • Maisie Hughes

    Maisie Hughes is a 20-year veteran of the culinary world. She has worked as a chef in some of the most prestigious restaurants in the country, and she currently volunteers her time at local food banks.

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