Pan-Fried “Rock” Fish

by Heather on October 16, 2011

Rockfish- what the heck is that? The other night Alex came home and as we were going to bed, mentioned, “Oh, by the way, there’s some rockfish in the fridge.” I had no clue what that was but just said, “Ok thanks”, which basically meant, “Ok, I’m too tired to ask what or why- good night.” The following morning I see this on the bottom shelf.

Yep, my husband brings home things in biohazard bags. Just another day in the life of a resident. Well, his sweet attending physician gave him this fish as a little treat for a super long day! Neither of us had ever tried rockfish, nor knew how to cook with it. Apparently, my facebook friends didn’t either. Only my cousin responded to my plea by suggesting it to be grilled, but that wasn’t going to work last-minute in an apartment. Oh what to do…
So I started looking in the Joy of Cooking. That got the ball rolling and gave me the idea to pan fry the fish with a simple flour/cornmeal dredge. I can never just consult one cookbook, so I also checked out my Better Homes and Gardens book and stumbled upon a fantastic spice combo that I was excited to try.

Pan-frying fish is fun! I rarely cook fish, even though both of us like it. I just forget to buy it and get stuck on cooking way too much chicken. That needs to change. The golden, crackling crust had a perfect sheen to it, the fish was nice and flaky, and since it wasn’t deep-fried, we considered this a healthy success, especially with my stalwart steamed broccoli standing by :)

If you have no access to, orĀ  interest in, buying rockfish, pretty much any type of fish fillet will do! Orange roughy, tilapia, catfish, cod, snapper- whatever your fancy.

And, by the way, I still don’t really know what rockfish is, but it was tasty and easy to cook. That’s all I need to know.

Pan-Fried “Rock” Fish

About 1 pound fresh fish fillets, cut in 3 to 4 pieces
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup vegetable oil

In a medium size bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, salt and spices. Set aside. Heat a large skillet on medium heat until hot, then add the vegetable oil to the skillet. Coat both sides of each fish fillet with the seasoned coating, and place into the heated skillet. Fry on each side for about 3 minutes, until the bottom of the fish is nicely browned and the flesh is firm and opaque. Turn over with tongs and brown the other side for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove the fillets from the skillet with tongs, let drain on paper towels, then plate and serve. The fish should flake easily off your fork.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Danielle October 16, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Glad you figured something out. I’ve never cooked rockfish either, although I’m pretty sure I’ve had it in a restaurant.
I always forget to buy fish too – except salmon which I always stock up on when the fresh wild sockeye is at our local Costco.
Remember if you increase your fish consumption to consult the mercury levels of the various kinds of fish while you are pregnant. Some fish has surprisingly high levels. You can easily find a chart of levels if you google. :)

rira October 16, 2011 at 11:11 pm

omg, i love that he brings it home in a biohazard bag! haha.

Jacqueline October 19, 2011 at 3:23 am

If you go to you can download a free seafood watch pocket guide for our area that shows fish in the following categories: best, good alternatives and avoid. As Danielle says above, it can’t hurt to be careful.

Meg October 26, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Rockfish is the same thing as Striped Bass. People from Maryland or those who fish in the Chesapeake Bay tend to call it Rockfish. It’s awesome!!

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