When you think of Maryland and food, the first thing that comes to mind is usually seafood because of all our treasures from the Chesapeake Bay. Usually the first thing that comes to mind is our incredible Maryland Crab cakes! We are known all over the world for our crab cakes!
But there is another treasure of the Bay and the top recreational sport fish in the bay. The Rockfish, also known as Striped Bass or "Striper" as we call it, is the official fish of the State of Maryland. It is an amazing fish that is so buttery and so delicious and so popular here that at one time it was so "overfished" that they had to put a moratorium on it here in Maryland to replenish the Bay with this wonderful fish. It was a sad time for the people here in Maryland to wait the 5 years until the controls were lifted.
Rockfish is a fish everyone should try. It is a hearty white fish is similar to halibut in taste and texture, with a little hint of swordfish flavor. Because of the durability of this fish, any cooking method will be good from frying to grilling.
The most important part about preparing this fresh fish is to keep it simple. In this recipe, rockfish fillets are seasoned with nothing more than salt, black pepper and Old Bay seasoning. You want to retain their delicate texture and innate moistness with a quick, high-heat sizzling in a skillet to keep the meat nice and juicy.The fillets are seared in a hot pan until crisp on the outside and tender and flaky on the inside. Rockfish is a local delicacy that everyone should try.
Pan seared Rockfish (AKA Striped Bass)
4 center cut rockfish fillets; about 2 ½ inches thick
2 tablespoons olive Oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper and Old Bay. Remove any noticeable pin bones from fish if you come across any. Then dredge your fillet and shake off excess. Melt your butter and olive oil in a large heavy skillet; set to medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to ripple, not smokey, carefully add the fillets. Sear the fillets on the first side without touching them for about 3-4 minutes. You want to leave it alone so that a crust can form to hold the fillet together when you flip it to the other side. Cook the fillets with the skin on to ensure that they don't fall apart in the pan. Fry the skin-on side first, then flip the fillets and cook the skinless side. Next, carefully flip and sear on the other side for an additional 3-4 minutes. The fish is cooked when it is opaque in the center and flakes nicely. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice if desired.
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