Recipes for shallow water Rockfish — Grass, Kelp, Brown, Black & Yellow, Gopher, etc.

Ken Jones

Staff member
McClane’s Fish Buyer’s Guide: Black & Yellow Rockfish — (A) Flavor: mild (B) Texture: soft (C) Flake: small (D) Fat Content: moderate (E) Odor (Raw): mild (F) Color after Cooking: off white (G) Cooking Methods: all methods

Posted by Ken Jones

From Pier Fishing In California, 2nd. Ed. — According to legend, Indians along the northwestern coast prized the wolf-eel as the "doctorfish" or mukah. Since the meat from the wolf-eel strengthened healing powers, it was strictly reserved for the medicine man of the tribe. He was lucky since the meat is white-fleshed, mild and flaky. The recipe below is taken from Outdoor California, a low cost publication put out by the California Department of Fish & Game, a magazine which for the cost, is hard to beat. Any mild, white-fleshed fish (including rockfish, croaker, bass and yes, wolf-eel) will work well with this recipe, but perhaps we should stay away from the mukah).

The Doctor's Low Calorie Delight


• 1 1/2 pounds to 2 pounds of rockfish fillets
• 1/3 small onion
• 1/2 stalk celery
• 1 can chicken consommé
• 1 clove fresh garlic (or two if gutsy)
• 3 medium tomatoes, peeled (or equivalent canned tomatoes)
• 2 dozen seedless grapes
• 1 ounce sweet vermouth
• 2 teaspoons corn starch


• Chop the onion and celery into small chunks and boil in the consommé until the volume of the liquid is reduced by half. Add the fish.
• Cover and continue cooking until the fish begins to flake. Add tomatoes cut in medium chunks and chopped fine garlic.
• When the fish is almost done, add the vermouth and the grapes.
• When done, remove the fish and thicken the sauce with cornstarch (mix the cornstarch with a little water and then pour that into the sauce).
• Pour the sauce back over the fish. Serve with brown rice and peas.

Posted by Ken Jones on March 10, 2004

What's your best recipe for shallow water rockfish—grass, kelp, brown, gopher, black and yellow, etc.

Posted by tomaurand

Anyway you cook it! Seriously, I don't think rockfish can be cooked wrong as long as its NOT over cooked. Fried, steamed, BBQ'd, backed, etc. I prefer deep-fried with potato the classic fish n chips with a cold beer. Yummie, Tom, Proud Supporter of UPSAC.

Posted by pescare

• Gut and scale the fish; leave whole.
• Sliced onions, chopped parsley, sliced tomatoes, dry white wine, butter, olive oil, salt & pepper.
• Put a little wine in the bottom of the pan, lay down some of the onion and tomatoes, rub the fish with oil and add S&P in and out then lay it on the onion/tomatoes.
• Place the half of the remaining onion and tomato slices in the cavity lay the rest over the fish.
• Sprinkle the parsley over all of it and lay a pat or two of butter on top of all; drizzle just a little more oil over it too.
• Cover loosely with foil and bake as necessary for the size of fish you have, and when done you've got a great ready-made sauce in the pan to spoon when serving.

Posted by giflet

Pescar has got it, except for the foil part, yes you cover loosely with foil, but I seal the edges of the foil by folding them so there is an air tight seal, now you have baked steamed fish all in one, the final presentation of the main course is great also, you cut the foil and the steam comes out, smells and looks great and you baste the fish in the sauce and veggies. Not to knock your way Pescar, just a little addition I like to do. Now I'm hungry, the closest thing to fish for me today will be McDonalds fillet o fish, anyone know what kind of fish they are made from?? (Halibut) You better wear a life jacket when joining this board, cause you can drown in information.

Posted by Nopal

My recipe is similar except that I don't use foil, I don't stuff the fish, and I don't bake. I let the sauce steam itself cook the fish, all in the same pot/saucepan.

Steamed Rockfish


• Olive oil.
• White Wine (I use Sauvignon Blanc).
• Minced garlic.
• Italian parsley.
• Fresh Roma tomatoes cut into 4 pieces.
• Sliced onions.
• Soy sauce.
• Red dried peppers.
• Salt & pepper.


• In a large pot/sauce pan cook garlic in olive oil. Add parsley and white wine. Let it boil.
• Add whole fish, tomato, onion, salt & pepper, a dry red pepper, and a little bit of soy sauce.
• Cover, lower the flame and let the fish steam as the white wine sauce thickens and reduces.
Serve and enjoy. Sorry that I don't have any measurements but I hardly ever measure anything when cooking. It's important that you use just enough wine to cover the bottom of the pan to just about 1/2 to 1/4 inch deep and rest the fish on its belly rather than the side. Any more than that and you're boiling the fish rather than steaming it.

Posted by Songslinger

Pan-Fried Rockfish

3:1 flour and cornmeal ratio. 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a dash of pepper. Mix dry ingredients well. Take rinsed and dried fillets and dot them with the "powder" on both sides. In a heated skillet with 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, fry them gently on both sides and then pad the grease out. Serve with fresh salad. Sauce is optional. Syrah is a wine that will work. Simple and delicious. And now I'm hungry. May is a long way off...

Posted by Nopal

When all I have is a grill, I use foil and an old Mexican recipe that my father taught me:

Mexican-Style Grilled Rockfish


• Minced onions.
• Green chilies or red dry chilies.
• Fresh epazote (a Mexican herb).
• Beer.
• Salt & Pepper.


• Stuff the fish's cavity with Minced onions, Epazote, and chilies.
• Cut slits on the fish's sides.
• Take a sheet of foil and slightly bend the edges so you have a shallow depression on the center.
• Place fish in the middle of the foil. Add salt & pepper and beer, careful not to spill out of the foil.
* Wrap foil around the fish. If the fish is too large, use more foil to wrap the top. Seal foil edges as best as possible. Place on grill.

The epazote and beer give the fish a unique flavor that just has to be experienced to be believed. The only issue may be finding some epazote. I've some supermarkets carry fresh epazote, so it seems to be more popular than before. I grow my own.

Posted by frozendog

BBQ Rockfish

Cover the bottom of a sauté pan with olive oil and slice one large shallot thin.
• Cook slowly then thinly slice one garlic clove per fillet and slowly sauté, no color, add a pat of butter per fillet.
• Keep simmering the mix together now add juice of 1/2 orange plus some orange zest and a dollop of honey,1/2 to 1 spoonful.
• Keep simmering.
* At this time I make foil boats for fish and put 1/2 mixture on my wife's fish.
• I take a raw green chili pepper [you pick your heat level] and slice into rings, remove the seeds and sauté slowly in mixture and cover top and bottom — my fish.
• Cook on BBQ.
• Close packets if you wish but its easier to tell when fish is done if packets are open. It's kind of an al mojo de ajo garlic sauce butt mild not sharp from the garlic.

Posted by sand spike

Rockfish tend to hold up well in many cooking conditions, whether it be on a grill or in a baking dish. I tend to keep my cooking simple. I have grilled freshly-caught rock fish with a simple rubdown of olive oil and a generous sprinkle of kosher salt and ground pepper.

I have also baked a lightly-grilled fish in chicken broth and the assortment of herbs and vegetables, including flat-leafed parsley, freshly sliced ginger, sliced or diced Yukon gold potatoes and some sweet onions.

Another favorite is to bake the fish above, as described, and when finished, pour hotly-cooked vegetable oil over the fish (this is Chinese style) and add your favorite soy sauce to taste. (Simply "cook" a cup of oil with garlic cloves until the oil begins to smoke. It will sizzle the fish when you pour it and add a great flavor. Save any unused oil in a glass jar for later use!)

I have a propane grill which allows me to start cooking in two minutes. Lightly grilling the fish before placing into the baking dish and oven adds even more intense flavors! With hot-steamed rice, it makes for a healthy and hearty meal!

Posted by eelmaster

Baked Rockfish

Warm olive oil in a pan. Sauté’ garlic then layer shallots, fresh tomato, salt and pepper. Add a fillet on top and repeat the layers of shallots and tomatoes on top of the fish. Put a lid on the skillet and stick it in the oven until fish is flaky. Drizzle meted butter with fresh parsley over the top and serve. Monte

Posted by me VS fish

Fish Tacos!

Ingredients include: McCormick Beer Batter, Cabbage, Cilantro, Onions, Tomatoes, Sour Cream, Tapatio Hot Sauce or hot sauce substitute, corn tortillas (I prefer King Size), Lemons, salt, corn oil or ?, and garlic salt (optional).

• First: I cut the fish into fillets.
• Second: I cut them into 1" X 3" strips.
• Third: I mix a bag of McCormick (brand) Beer Batter with beer of choice. Budweiser works great. Mix to a slightly thicker consistency than pancake mix. NOTE: for the guys who never made pancakes, ask your wives. lol.
• Fourth: Cutting up the veggies - Cabbage shredded, Tomatoes diced, Onions diced (some may want them cut in slices), and finely chopped Cilantro.
• Fifth: Now, here is the cooking part - heat the corn oil in a large non-stick frying pan, dip fish strips into batter & add to frying pan. NOTE: keep at a slight distance between strips or they will attach together. Cook at medium heat, turn when edges brown or 5 to 7 min. (I think? - it has been a while). After the first turn dash a little bit of garlic salt (for those who love to kick it up a notch!). Cook to a golden brown. Place two paper towels on top of a large plate. Place cooked fish on plate. Add a little dash of salt to 1 side only of each strip. You may want to taste when cooled before adding salt. Some may want the extra salt some may not.
• Sixth: Heat tortillas & place into a tortilla warmer. If you do not have a tortilla warmer then substitute with foil and a kitchen towel. Put tortillas in a folded pocket of foil and a towel as an outer covering.
• Seventh: Assembling your tacos. Add to your tortilla 2 or 3 strips of fish. Add sour cream. Add veggies to your desire. Sprinkle some lemon juice. Add hot sauce. NOTE: Tapatio is HOT a few drops are enough. Unless, you are a fire-breathing dragon then pour on! :)
• Eighth: Enjoy your meal. For the beer drinker, this is an excellent addition to that cold one!
Sorry no measurements were given due to the fact I have never taken note. I just eye ball it and determine the amounts of ingredients based on the amount fish to be used.

Posted by StripeSideChaser

Another fish taco (sort of). I prefer not too batter the fish, but simply fry the fillets in a small amount of heated oil with chili powder, garlic, onions. I let the fillets break up as they cook. I use tostado shells, lay on a thin layer of frijoles (helps the fish stay on), then cover with grated (Colby and mozzarella) cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, a little fresh grated parmesan, and then favorite hot sauce on top. Different than I've seen in restaurants, but everybody that has tried them has gone back for more! I fish, therefore I lie!

Posted by me VS fish

I will try without the batter soon! ...I have fried other types of fish without the batter & it did taste great. The only difference is I used a lot of spices. Lemon/pepper with onion power + garlic salt & parsley, & paprika. I would marinate the fish in lemon juice + all the above spices. One trick I did was when I heated the oil I would sauté onions & garlic. Then, I would extract them from the pan. And then fry the fish in the oil that has the reminiscence of onion & garlic flavor.

Posted by 2d

A Restaurant friend of mine... He's a pro, so I'm inclined to take his word for this (Partner in the Il Fornaio restaurants). He swears by salt baking rock cod. I haven't tried it because it's a bit of work, but he hasn't steered me wrong before in other fish recipes.

For myself, I just take any rock cod I keep to my mother in law for the Chinese steaming treatment. Great deal. I catch, she cleans (she insists, since the liver and other organs are "medicinal") and cooks, then I eat. Basic steaming technique: salt and pepper the fish, score the sides, garnish with cilantro, green onions, whatever. Steam, drain the liquid, splash of soy sauce, splash of sesame oil, drizzle with hot (sizzling hot) cooking oil. Serve.

Posted by ginkoz

I like the Cantonese style of steam. Steam the fish for 5-10 minutes. Put some chopped green onion, ginger and some light soy sauce onto heated oil pan for 10-15 seconds, then pour it on top of the steamed fish.

Posted by unclesteve

Korean Soup Style... Bean paste, Red Pepper, Tofu, Onions... Have a fishy day..!

Posted by unclesteve

Raw sliced and dipped in Korean hot paste

Posted by pkjoe

Raw fish and cho-jang, yum!!!

Posted by: 2d

Here's one I developed for striped bass, but I found out last fall that it works really well for rock cod too.

Salt and pepper fillets. Dredge fillets in egg wash. Press into a pan of Panko (Japanese bread crumbs). Deep fry until golden.
Toast hamburger buns (or a good roll). Spread toasted bun with tartar sauce (mayo, good mustard, pickle relish, pepper is a good approximation). Place fried fillet on the bottom bun topped with bacon, lettuce and tomato. serve with kettle cooked chips.

Posted by frozendog

Rockfish in mango Sauce:

I've been working on an easy recipe to use when camping. I wanted something with minimal mess and pans — and easy to prepare. Of course, the main ingredient would be fish. We don't camp where you could catch armadillos or emu.

Beg, steal, borrow or hopefully, catch some fish. I used rockfish. Any other mild flavored fish would work as well. Use boneless and skinless filets.

Heat a large frying pan on medium heat. I used a little olive oil in the pan - veg oil would also work. A note, I purchased a beautiful, stainless steel frying pan just for this and our normal non-stick pan worked better. Sauté fillets about three minutes per side (depending on size of fish) until fish begins to brown. Flip fillets finish cooking another two — three minutes until done (not incinerated, just done).

When done, remove fish from pan, cover. Then swab out remaining oil in pan. Put the pan back on the heat. Pour in 1/2 inch of mango nectar into the pan and reduce by half (you can get mango nectar in a 12 oz can). I added a good glob of Orange sauce with ginger (also avail at your local grocery store) and a pat of butter (not necessary, but it's good).

When the sauce is nice and blended, pour over the fish. It's a nice fruity sauce to use for people who say they don't like fish. I chose instant couscous with roasted garlic and Parmesan to serve with the fish. We used 1/2 chicken stock instead of all water and added some raisins and currents and some dried dates to the couscous. Had an orange handy so I threw in some orange zest on top.

We also sliced up some pears to finish up the meal. Easy clean-up. One frying pan, one sauce pan and lid. If you were camping, you would use paper plates for even less cleanup.

Posted by grammar police

BBQ Rock Cod Tacos:

Butter/Margarine - 2 – 4 tbs
Tin foil
1 lemon or orange

Lemon Pepper
Season Salt or Garlic Salt
Parsley flakes (Optional)

Prep fish: Rinse in cold sink water and pat excessive water dry with paper towel or napkins
Cut into roughly “3-bite” size strips; be sure to remove any stray bones
Season both sides of fish

* Make tinfoil boat/packet large enough to be sealed with all fish and lemon/orange
• Cut 1 tbs of butter into two pieces and put in bottom of tin foil packet
• Cut lemon or orange into thin round slices rind and all; line bottom of packet with 2-4 pieces covering entire bottom
• Add fish evenly on top of lemon slices
• This is when I add some parsley; I don’t add it to both sides
• Add some more lemon slices on top of fish
• 1 more tbs of butter on top of lemon slices
• Seal tinfoil packet and bbq over medium flame for approximately 15 - 20 minutes (Depending on fillet thickness)
• After 15 minutes open tinfoil packet carefully (It will be hot) and test fish, it should all be pretty much paper white and fall apart with the touch of a fork
Serve hot, in tortilla with any desired taco fixings… I usually just use a little cheese and salsa. I want to be able to taste the fish!

Deep-fried Rock Cod:

1 - Box McCormick’s BEER BATTER
1 – Ale beer (Sierra Nevada, Fat Tire, Any Pale Ale, Any IPA)
1 – Jug/Bottle of Vegetable oil

Seasonings: (Salt and pepper are a must when deep frying)
Lemon Pepper
Season Salt
Parsley flakes (Optional)

Prep fish:

* Rinse in cold sink water and pat excessive water dry with paper towel or napkins (To reduce water and oil mix/splatter)
* Cut into roughly “3-bite” size strips; be sure to remove any stray bones
* Sprinkle all seasonings on each side of fish and set aside ready for batter

Mix batter:

* Do as the box suggests I use a fork to mix it all together (water can be substituted for the ale, but doesn’t taste as good IMO
* Heat vegetable oil to 375 degrees (You want enough oil in the pan or fry daddy to submerge the fish pieces) If using a fry daddy, I recommend removing the basket, the batter will mold through he opening and then fry solid into the basket making removal difficult.
* Dip fish in batter and fry as many pieces as will fit in the pan, cooking 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown, flipping once (If it isn’t ready to flip, the batter will either fall off that side or stick to the bottom of the pan if shallow)
* Remove and drain on a plate with some paper towels or brown paper bag.
* Serve hot — plain, with tapatio, or tartar sauce. Joey3

Posted by pierhead on August 18, 2002

Steamed Rockfish

If anyone has a recipe and procedures for steaming a couple of whole 1-lb rockfish please post —I have the fish on ice and am looking forward to fixing them today. I tried a search for Gyozadude's prior posts but there are too many of you searching by subject right now.I have a wok and lid but no bamboo steaming baskets. Thanks! Pierhead

Posted by lucy

Send them to me! I'll steam them for you... and eat them for you... and that way you'll save yourself all that bother. I'm SO thoughtful!

Posted by Songslinger

In a pinch you can make "belts" out of aluminum foil and secure them to your wok handles. They will keep the fish raised slightly above the water level and you should be able to steam them just fine. As for recipes, since I like my fish unadulterated, I'm not the best guy for suggestions. Rockfish is one of my favorite fish. I would steam them in plain old water then serve it on a bed of garlic/Parmesan rice and brush the filets with lime butter. Oh man, now I'm hungry!

Posted by pierhead

Lime butter it is then...I'm headed to the store right now for some limes and Parmesan! Thank you. And, sorry Lucy — maybe next time. Pierhead. Thank You Slinger !

Posted by pierhead

Brown Rockfish with lime butter ... Every bit as good as I anticipated it would be. I'm even using chop sticks which permit me to savor each bite ... since I haven't yet learned to eat fast with them. If Ken ever sets up a Test Kitchen I volunteer for one of the Taster positions! Pierhead

Posted by Songslinger

Wonderful! I'm so happy it worked out for you. Me, I was forced to cook clay-baked chicken, 12-hour pinto beans, homemade rolled tortillas and cactus salsa verde. So we didn't starve in our house. But man, the rockfish would have been sooooo good! Way to go!

Posted by skimfisher

If you have a big can steam your fish by placing the entire bowl of fish (I recommend a ceramic-type of bowl) into about 3" of water. Amount of water will vary depending on how deep your bowl is. You only want the bowl to be submerged in about half-the-bowl depth of water. Cover and bring to a boil.

For a marinade... I like to buy some Black Bean Sauce at Ranch 99 and rub it onto the fish. Just try not to put too much of the sauce on. It's very salty and you want to use it to accentuate the flavor of the fish... not take it over! Here's my procedure:

Catch fish
Clean fish
Cut slits into side of fish
Rub on Black Bean Sauce onto both sides
Simple and delicious! Here fishy, fishy, fishy, fishy... Come to papa!

Posted by geckomd

Steam the fish first, remove and pour some soy sauce over it. Then bring a cup of oil to a boil, add some green onions and pour everything over the fish. Try it and let me know how it tastes. Enjoy!!!

Posted by pierhead

Thanks ..... I'm saving the grass rockfish to try with your recipe. Glad I got two fish. I have several others in the freezer as well so I will also give Skimfisher's suggestions a try. Thanks everybody for your help and inspiration! If I can restrain myself long enough I will take and post pictures of the results :) Pierhead

Posted by break_the_bank

Cut up two stalks of green onions and about an inch of ginger into strips. Steam the fish with little bit of green onions and ginger. After the fish is cooked remove the fish from the wok. In a small pot put in two table spoons of oil and heat until you see some smoke and dump in the rest of the ginger and green onions in the pot and add two table spoons of soy sauce and some white wine. Cook for 10 more seconds and then pour the sauce on the fish and enjoy!

Posted by Songslinger

Let's Open A Kitchen! Board members cooking for fun and profit. Some of the proceeds will go to maintaining this site and forming a lobby to bug the politicos in Sacramento.

Posted by pierhead

Excellent! ... the recipe that I was searching for was based on green onions, ginger and soy sauce. I will add yours to my growing collection. As to opening a kitchen I used to manage restaurants so I could be of some help there. Although the position I enjoyed most was the early morning prep shift... no one around and a full kitchen at your disposal. Heaven. Pierhead

Posted by Ken Jones

Restaurant I qualify? Owned a restaurant and did everything — cooked, paid the bills (sometimes), washed dishes, waited on tables, listened to sob stories from customers/workers, planned out all kinds of neat things (or so I thought) and finally sold it. Always wanted a fish restaurant. Quite a contrast from selling shoes!

Posted by pierhead

With your experience you would be a shoe-in to handle such menu items as filet of sole, braised tongue and shoestring potatoes! Sorry, Pierhead

Posted by chen the fishermen

Rockfish head soup + question

Many people throw the fish head and tails away, but I think those parts are where the most flavor is. Especially the head of those rock fish.

Here is how I cook my fish soup:
• Put a little oil in a large wok, after it its heated, add a few pieces of ginger.
• Once you can smell the ginger, throw in the fish head and tail or any other parts that you cannot filet including bone and the belly. If the head is too large you can chop it in half.
• Fry till the fish parts are a little brown and add Chinese cooking wine (you can buy these at 99 Ranch Market for 99 cents a bottle).
• Let it cook for 15 to 20 sec. When the wine is almost gone, add water to cover the fish.
• Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 20 to 30 min.
• At the end of 30 min, the soup should be whitish yellow with a little bit of oil on the top. Add a little vinegar (little means you can smell it but barely taste it) and salt.
• Cook a few more minutes and turn off the heat.
• Add chopped green onion and pepper (white pepper if possible but black pepper is just as good). Now you've got Southern Chinese style fish soup.

Posted by SandCrab

Rock fish head soup + question. Hmmm...are u Chinese Chen? Cause that’s like similar to the way my mom makes her fish soup when she buys rock fish from the markets. And yes I’m half Chinese and half Viet that’s why. And Yes the soup tastes very good....I like to put it over my rice. Kevin*

Posted by chen the fishermen

Yes I am Chinese, learned how to cook that soup when I was very young. and I still love it. sometimes I add a little firm tofu or some vegies to the soup... great dish.

Posted by mandooz

Rockfish head soup + question — you are definitely right. The head, tail, and bones are great for making soup stock. To throw any part of the fish is really a waste.

Posted by patrick333

I like to save the belly and trimming of the fins to be put in the soup at later stage. After I strained the stock, I put those parts in with some tofu, add some fresh cilantro, perfect fish soup.
Last edited:

Ken Jones

Staff member
This is a basic recipe that can be used with almost any mild, white-fleshed fish. It doesn't matter the size of the fillets since you're going to break them into smaller chunks and use them for fish patties.

Rockfish Patties/Cakes


• 1 small potato (5-6 oz.), peeled
• 2 lb. firm white-fleshed fish fillets
• 1 1⁄2 cups bread crumbs or Panko
• 1⁄4 cup finely chopped parsley
• 1⁄4 cup finely chopped scallion
• 1/4 cup sour cream
• 1⁄4 tsp. cayenne pepper
• Fresh lemon juice
• Salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil


• Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
• In a small pot, add the potato and enough cold water to cover; bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the potato is tender when pierced with a knife, 13–15 minutes. Drain, and let cool.
• When the potato is cool enough to touch, coarsely mash with a fork and set aside.
• Meanwhile, cook the fish: Set the fillets on the baking sheet, transfer to the oven, and roast until the fish flakes easily, about 15 minutes.
• Pour the breadcrumbs onto a plate and set aside.
• Remove the fish from the oven and cool slightly.
• In a large bowl, break the fish into chunks. Add the mashed potato, parsley, scallion, sour cream, and cayenne; mix well, then season to taste with fresh lemon juice, kosher salt, and black pepper. Form the mixture into eight patties, then roll each in bread crumbs.
• In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil. Once hot, add the fish cakes in batches and let cook, turning once, until golden brown and heated through, 3–4 minutes per side.
• Transfer the cakes to a platter and serve hot.