This crunchy lemon-herb baked rockfish is meaty, moist and mild with a crispy, flavorful coating that doesn’t require any frying and can be on the table in 30 minutes!
Sometimes I Want Easy (BUT That Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Want Delicious)
Fast and easy doesn’t need to mean you need to compromise. Whether you enjoy cooking or not, there are all kinds of reasons that you might want something that’s EASY and quick to get on the table. But you still deserve to eat something absolutely delicious that you can feel good about putting in your body and feeding to your family.
THIS is that recipe! I overheard Eric telling a co-worker that it might be the best fish he’s ever eaten 🙂
How great is it when something so simple is so good?
Is Rockfish New To You?
Me too! I’d never heard of it until this summer, when it appeared in the seafood case at Heinens.
I was initially drawn to it because the fillets looked firm and thick- similar to halibut- and they had the prettiest red speckled skin. I also LOVED the price (about half the price of halibut)! So, I asked for a one pound piece from the thickest end, took it home and googled it.
If you or someone you cook for is “iffy” about seafood, rockfish is a great option because the flavor is delicate and mild and the texture is firm and lean. Rockfish is sometimes referred to as Pacific rockfish, rock cod, red snapper, or Pacific snapper.
It’s also sustainable and a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, Vitamin D, and potassium
Will Other Types Of Fish Work?
YES!! If you don’t see rockfish in the seafood case you have options 🙂
I love so many things about rockfish, but I can’t always find it. I’ve had excellent results with this recipe using cod and haddock. You could also use tilapia, catfish or flounder.
The key is using a mild, firm white fish and selecting fillets that are thick (1 to 1 1/2 inches is ideal) and similar in size.
Ingredients You’ll Need
This recipe is simple AND flexible, so adjust to your tastes and what you have available. I’ve written the recipe for two servings. It’s super easy to cut in half for one person or to scale up for more.
Here’s what you need:
- Two 8 oz rockfish fillets (you can also use cod or haddock) 1 to 1 1/2″ thick
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (panko keeps it’s crunch and absorbs less oil than regular breadcrumbs)
- Old Bay, kosher salt and cracked pepper
- Mayonnaise (I always use Sir Kensington’s Avocado Oil Mayo)
- Dijon or grainy mustard
- One lemon, zested
- Fresh herbs. I like basil and parsley, but don’t limit yourself- find what you like and use it!
- Grated parmesan (the real stuff- no green cans)
- olive oil &/or melted butter
How To Make Crunchy Lemon-Herb Baked Rockfish
This is such a simple preparation and you can have it ready to slide into the oven in ten minutes.
- Make sure your oven has time to fully preheat to 425°f.
- Rinse your fillets and pat dry. It’s important to make sure they’re dry so that the spices and coating will stick.
- Season well with kosher salt, pepper & Old Bay (don’t be shy with the Old Bay)
- Make an herb mayonnaise by combining mayo, dijon mustard, lemon zest and chopped herbs. Spread this mixture evenly over the top and sides of your fillets.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil. This makes clean up much easier!
- Combine your Panko, more fresh herbs, a little grated parmesan, melted butter (or olive oil), Old Bay and a pinch of kosher salt.
- Now, pat that mixture all over the coated fish, pressing gently with your hands to make it stick. You may have some coating left, it just depends on the size of your fillets (throw any extra away).
- Take the lemon that you used for zest, cut it into quarters and arrange – cut sides down- on the baking sheet around your fish. Drizzle just a little olive oil on top of fillets.
- Bake in a preheated 425°f oven for about 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature inserted in thickest part of fillet is 140°f *
- Plate your fish and serve with the cooked lemon wedges for squeezing over
*if your fillets are thicker or thinner they may take more or less time, an instant read thermometer is your best friend if you’re unsure. Very thin fillets could be done in as little as 10 minutes*
A Few Words On Cook Time and Temperature
Look at cooking times and oven temperatures in most recipes as a guideline. There are so many variables that can make a difference in how a dish ultimately turns out:
- Oven temperatures fluctuate- my oven’s 425°f may be your oven’s 375°f or 450°f
- The starting temperature of whatever you’re cooking isn’t always the same (how long was it out of the fridge?)
- The thickness/size of whatever your cooking won’t be exactly the same every time
Pay attention to your other senses when you cook, too. Are there visual cues you can look for? In this case, the fish is done when it flakes easily when pulled apart with a fork, and the inside will be opaque.
I can’t stress enough how much getting an inexpensive instant read digital thermometer will simplify your life, improve your results and give you more confidence in the kitchen. I keep mine in a little utensil jar right next to the stove at all times and use it almost daily!
What Should You Serve With Crunchy Lemon-Herb Baked Rockfish?
On this particular night the weather was gorgeous and I wanted minimal time cooking so that Eric and I could sit outside and enjoy the evening. We opened a chilled bottle of sauvignon blanc and served the fish with crisp blanched beans from Hannah’s garden and some beautiful little tomatoes I quickly tossed with olive oil, white balsamic and a pinch of salt. Perfect and simple 🙂
Jasmine rice would have also been nice or this Julienned Zucchini-Tomato Salad.
Quick No-Recipe Bonus Recipe
I love this exactly as-is with just a squeeze of the roasted lemons. But sometimes I want a little something more- so I’ll whip up a quick tartar-ish sauce. There are no measurements and I improvise with whatever I can find- it goes something like this:
Start with a mayonnaise base, add some dijon or maybe a dash of hot sauce. Chop up some pickles- dill or sweet, up to you- or rinse and chop a spoonful of capers and add to the mayo mixture. Taste it. Does it need a squeeze of lemon (I think it always needs a squeeze of lemon)? Some chopped herbs (use the same kind you used in the breading)? Taste it again.
What does it need…salt? pepper? Cayenne? Old Bay? Play around until it’s the way you like it.
That’s it. Easy!
What Should You Do With That Last Bite?
Honestly, it’s completely up to you… I decided to share. Seriously, could you resist that sweet face?
- 2 8 oz rockfish fillets, 1 to 1 1/2" thick (haddock and cod will also work well)
- Old Bay, kosher salt and cracked pepper
- 1 Tablespoon good mayonnaise (I prefer Sir Kensington's Avocado mayonnaise)
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 lemon, zested
- 2 teaspoons chopped, fresh herbs (basil and parsley are great options)
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 Tablespoons chopped, fresh herbs (the same herbs you use in the mayonnaise)
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil or melted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
Haddock and cod work great here, too! Try to get fillets that are 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick and similar in size so that they cook at the same rate. This recipe is easily scaled back for one or scaled up for more servings.
Preheat oven to 425°f and line a baking sheet with parchment or foil
- Rinse fillets with cold water and pat dry. Arrange fish on parchment lined baking sheet with space between pieces. Season well with kosher salt, pepper and Old Bay.
- Zest lemon, set zest aside and cut the zested lemon into wedges.
- Combine all herb mayonnaise ingredients and divide between fillets, spreading evenly to coat top and sides well.
- Combine topping ingredients well, using fingers to make sure oil/butter is evenly distributed. Divide mixture between fillets and spread evenly to coat top and sides of fish, using your hands to gently pat into mayonnaise. Sprinkle with more Old Bay and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Arrange lemon wedges, cut sides down, around fish.
- Bake in center of preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until internal temperature is 140°f. (If your fillets are thinner, check at 15 minutes)
- Serve fish with roasted lemon wedges for squeezing over.
- cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of your fillets. Very thin fillets may be done in 10 minutes, very thick fillets could take 25
- If you don't have a digital thermometer you can tell the fish is done when the fish flakes easily in the thickest part with a fork and the inside is opaque