How to Bake Rockfish With Lemon

Rockfish is a lean white, firm-fleshed fish that makes a quick and healthy meal.
Image Credit: ALLEKO/iStock/GettyImages

Rockfish is a lean white, firm-fleshed fish that makes a quick and healthy meal. Whichever mild-flavored variety you choose to prepare, any rockfish fillet recipe will benefit from the addition of a citrus embellishment of lemon in the form of a spritz, zesty lemony sauce or a side of lemon wedges.

What Is Rockfish?

Rockfish is the general name for a large number of fish species, each differing in appearance, habitat and lifespan, which belong to the Scorpaenidae (Scorpionfish) family. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), these species are referred to by multiple names and they can all be sold under the common name of rockfish, even if their names don't even include the word "rockfish."

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Fisheries and Oceans Canada lists some of the many types of rockfish out there, including Pacific ocean perch, chili-pepper fish and yelloweye rockfish. The latter is one of the largest in this category, and it's commonly known as red snapper.

Some rockfish can live from 7 to 75 years, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Compared to other species, they're relatively low in mercury and can be incorporated into a balanced diet, states the FDA. Aim for one serving per week to reap the benefits.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming at least 8 ounces of a variety of seafood per week — and rockfish can help you meet these guidelines.

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Safe Handling Practices

It's important to practice safe food handling techniques, from purchase to preparation, to prevent foodborne illness. Fish is highly perishable, so you should buy rockfish as fresh as possible from a reputable vendor. When preparing it, make sure the raw juices don't drip on other foods, especially those that will be consumed without further cooking, warns a report in a December 2016 study published in the journal Foods.

Fresh fish should have bright, clear, protruding eyes. The gills should be bright red or pink, and the flesh firm and free of slime, according to the Foods report. The scales should be shiny and tightly adhered to the body. Fillets and steaks should have firm, elastic translucent flesh and a moist appearance, with no browning or bleeding around the edges.

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After you buy rockfish — or any type of fresh fish, you can freeze it at home for up to four months or refrigerate it at 32 degrees Fahrenheit for no longer than 36 hours, as reported in Foods.

Preparing Baked Rockfish

There are many ways to cook rockfish. Whether you prepare a broiled Mediterranean rockfish recipe with tomato sauce and capers or prefer this LIVESTRONG.com Chia Seed Crusted Fish recipe, you'll get both flavor and nutrition. Any red snapper or white fish recipes, such as cod or bass, can be used when making baked rockfish.

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Read more: Simple Broiled Cod

Lemon pairs up with fish very well. The acid in this fruit brightens the flavors and helps counter any briny or fishy flavors.

In addition to the culinary advantage, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion suggests that preparing fish with sliced lemons or lemon juice rather than high-salt seasoning blends is a healthy choice for those on a sodium-restricted diet.

Rockfish is an excellent candidate for the frying pan. Choose one of your favorite pan-seared rockfish recipes or use a lemon pepper-based coating, such as eggs, bread crumbs and lemon zest, to retain the meat's natural juices. Serve with sliced lemons on the side.

Baking works well for rockfish. Baste the fish with seasoned butter and lemon juice, cover the pan and cook at 375 F for 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, says the Missouri Department of Conservation. Lay fresh lemon slices on top of the fish and baste it in its own lemony juices during cooking for more flavor.

If you choose to broil or grill rockfish, brushing it with oil and lemon juice during cooking over the high heat will prevent it from drying out. Broil skin side up and then turn it carefully. A small amount of lemon juice in the broiling pan will help keep the fish moist and enhance its flavor.

If you are preparing whole rockfish, steaks and fillets, cook ten minutes for every inch measured at the thickest part of the fish, advises the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. If the piece of fish is less than an inch thick, shorten the cooking time accordingly. Avoid overcooking rockfish, which causes it to dry out because the natural juices are lost.

Rockfish is done when it becomes opaque and flakes easily. Let the fish stand three to four minutes to finish cooking; then check the internal temperature at the thickest part of the fish. It should read 145 F, points out FoodSafety.gov.

Read more: How to Bake Cod Fish in Foil

Reap the Benefits of Rockfish

The Dietary Guidelines state that fish should be a regular part of a healthy eating pattern as it may improve cardiovascular function and prevent obesity. Many of its potential health benefits are due to the high content of omega-3 fatty acids, which are an important component of every cell in your body, including your eyes, brain and sperm cells, says the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements.

According to the USDA, a 3-ounce serving of cooked Pacific rockfish provides 93 calories and 18.9 grams of protein, which represents 38 percent of the daily value (DV). This type of fish is low in carbs and sugar and delivers an abundance of nutrients.

Phosphorus is an important mineral for the formation of teeth and bones, and 3 ounces of rockfish provide 17 percent of the DV. It's also a good source of selenium, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc and copper.

Rockfish contain essential vitamins too, especially B-complex vitamins. The FDA states that fish contains more vitamin B12 and vitamin D than any other type of food. Vitamin B12 contributes to red blood cell formation and supports nerve function, while vitamin D helps maintain bone density.

Read more: The Effects of Eating Fish on the Libido

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