How to Cook Rockfish in a Pan

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A good-quality skillet is the key to pan cooking most types of fish, including the versatile rockfish varieties. Rockfish is a general term for roughly 100 species of fish, found in coastal Pacific and Atlantic waters. Atlantic striped bass, also known as rockfish, can also be found in freshwater sources. Rockfish fillets are generally lean, moderately firm and typically have a nutty, slightly sweet flavor. You can cook them in a heavy-bottomed skillet in a variety of ways, depending on your preference, including pan-searing -- ideal for skin-on rockfish -- pan-frying them breaded, and pan-roasting after a quick sear on the stovetop.

Things You'll Need

  • Heavy, ovenproof skillet
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Additional seasonings, optional
  • Canola oil

Pan-Sauteed

  • Pat down the rockfish fillets to remove as much excess moisture as possible, then season with salt and pepper on both sides.

  • Coat a large, heavy skillet with canola oil and place over high heat, if your rockfish fillets are skin on, as the high temperature ensures a crisp skin. If the fillets are skinless, you only need to turn the heat to about a medium-high temperature.

  • Add the rockfish to the hot pan, skin-side down, and allow them to sear for about 1 minute, then reduce the heat slightly to medium-high. Cook for another minute or so, then flip and finish cooking the other side, until the flesh is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. Serve hot.

Breaded

  • Fill a shallow plate with flour and beat 2 or 3 eggs into a bowl with a little milk to create an egg wash. Fill another shallow bowl with bread crumbs. Use panko or regular bread crumbs, based on your preference. Season the bread crumbs to your liking with salt, pepper and additional spices such as garlic and chili powder.

  • Season the rockfish fillets lightly with salt and pepper on both sides, then dredge each one first through the flour, fully coating both sides. Shake off the excess and place the fillets next in the egg wash, then into the bread crumbs, coating both sides and pressing on the fillets gently to help the bread crumbs adhere.

  • Heat a heavy skillet coated with canola oil on medium-high heat. When the pan is fully heated, add the breaded fillets and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until the breading is golden brown and the flesh is fully opaque. Cut into one of your fillets slightly to check. Serve the breaded fish immediately, while the bread crumbs are still crisp.

Pan-Roasted

  • Preheat the oven to about 450 degrees Fahrenheit and season the fish to your liking.

  • Coat a heavy skillet with canola oil and bring to high heat on the stove for skin-on rockfish, or medium-high if the fillets are skinless.

  • Add the fillets -- skin-side down if they are skin-on -- to sear for about a minute or so in the hot oil, then flip them over and transfer the skillet to the preheated oven to finish cooking. Cook the rockfish fillets for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets, until the fish is fully opaque and flakes easily with the fork. Serve hot.

Tips & Warnings

  • Add a pat or so of butter to the hot oil in the skillet to add more flavor.
  • Marinate the fish for a couple of hours before cooking to infuse the fish with more flavor. You can make any type of marinade you prefer, using equal parts of any type of oil, vinegar or other acidic elements and herbs, spices and aromatics to your taste.

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References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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