How to Cook Rockfish in the Oven

by Fern Fischer
Red snapper is only one species of rockfish -- look for clear eyes and bright color for the freshest fish.

Red snapper is only one species of rockfish -- look for clear eyes and bright color for the freshest fish.

Also called Pacific red snapper, Pacific ocean perch or black bass, the rockfish family includes more than 70 species. The natural color of rockfish ranges from bright red to green, yellow, brown or gray, depending on the species and dwelling depth. Buy fresh drawn rockfish with the entrails, heads and scales removed, or buy fillets. Skinless or with skin, rockfish flesh is medium-firm to firm when cooked.

Baked With Herbed Vegetables

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the rockfish into serving pieces about 1/4-pound each. Rinse the pieces under cold running water and drain on paper towels.

Spray a baking pan or iron skillet with cooking spray, or melt butter to coat the pan. Place the fish pieces in the pan, folding under thin areas so the pieces are of uniform thickness.

Grate a carrot, and thinly slice green salad onions or a leek. Mix together the pesto, grated carrot, onions, peas and the juice of one lemon or bottled lemon juice. Add sea salt to taste. Spread the vegetable mixture evenly over the fish portions. Place a fresh herb sprig atop each one, if desired.

Cover the baking dish with a lid or foil. Bake the covered fish in the center of the oven, generally for about 40 minutes for two pounds of fish. Check with a fork; fish is done when it flakes easily. Baking time varies according to the thickness of the fish portions.

Crispy Baked

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Rinse the fish and cut it into portions. Drain the pieces and pat them dry with paper towels.

Place butter in an iron skillet or a baking pan, and set the pan in the oven to melt the butter. Mix together biscuit baking mix and cornmeal in a bowl, adding spices to taste. Beat an egg in a separate bowl.

Remove the pan from the oven. Dip each piece of fish into the beaten egg, coating it on all sides. Dip the egg-coated fish into the dry mixture and place it into the pan of melted butter. Coat all the fish portions and arrange them in the pan.

Bake the fish uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the bottom crust is lightly browned. Turn the fish with a spatula, being careful to keep the coating intact. Bake it for an additional 12 to 15 minutes. It’s done when the coating is crispy golden brown and the fish flakes with a fork. Serve with lemon wedges, malt vinegar or tartar sauce.

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Items you will need

  • Paper towels
  • Cooking spray or butter
  • Rectangular baking dish or iron skillet
  • Small jar of pesto
  • Carrot, salad onions or leek, peas
  • Lemon, or bottled lemon juice
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh herb sprigs (optional)
  • Baking dish lid or foil
  • Biscuit baking mix
  • Yellow cornmeal
  • Paprika, chili powder or dried herb powder
  • Egg
  • Malt vinegar (optional)
  • Tartar sauce (optional)


  • Enhance any rockfish with mild herbs, such as parsley, dill, French tarragon, lemongrass or lemon basil. Place a small sprig on each serving of the fish as it cooks, or add dried, crushed herbs to bread crumbs and sprinkle on the fish before placing it in the oven.
  • Control the texture of the crispy coating: More biscuit baking mix makes a smoother coating, and more cornmeal makes the coating coarser.
  • If you savor the flavor of plain rockfish, simply bake it in a lightly greased pan at 375 F until it flakes. Drizzle it with lemon juice and melted butter before serving.


  • Fork-test the thickest part of the fish. Fish is not done if it is still translucent or does not flake.

About the Author

Fern Fischer's print and online work has appeared in publications such as Midwest Gardening, Dolls, Workbasket, Quilts for Today and Cooking Fresh. With a broader focus on organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family articles, she specializes in topics involving antique and modern quilting, sewing and needlework techniques.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images