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Pacific rockfish

Other Names: Canary rockfish; chilipepper; gallineta (Spanish); menuke (Japanese); Pacific ocean perch; Pacific red snapper; pygmy; quillback; rascasse du nor (French); redfish; rock cod; rotbarsc (German); scorpionfish; sebaste (Italian); shortbelly; thornyhead; widow rockfish; yelloweye rockfish. Sebastes.

General Description: There are more than 70 species of wild rockfish along the American Pacific coast. Unrelated to the striped bass, also known as rockfish, these deepwater
fish weigh up to 20 pounds. Rockfish’s firm texture suits them to stews, soups, and chowders. In Asian restaurants, rockfish are often served whole, either steamed or deep-fried. Pacific Ocean perch (Sebastes alutus_) is the most important commercial species. The tasty chilipepper (S. goodei_) is small and pink and white. Vermilion rockfish (S. miniatus_) are bright red with large black eyes and moderately
firm flesh. Canary rockfish (_S. pinninger
) are yellow-orange
with three dark orange stripes across their head. Copper rockfish (
S. caurinus
) have a wide stripe on their lateral lines and coppery stripes radiating back from their eyes. They range from Alaska to California and are popular for sport and eating.

Locale and Season: Rockfish are found in the Pacific from the Bering Strait to Baja California. They are harvested year round by almost all methods and also as bycatch.

Characteristics: Rockfish meat is lean and medium-firm with a delicate, nutty flavor. Market average is 2 to 5 pounds.
Rockfish are red-fleshed or brown-fleshed: the preferable red are leaner, and the brown are stronger and more perishable. Because rockfish are slow-growing, they are highly susceptible to overfishing. Yield is 30 to 40 percent.

How to Choose: Choose rockfish with bright, shiny skin. Those with thick bodies usually have firm flesh. Whole rockfish
may have bulging eyes if they are brought up from great depths, but this does not affect their quality. They are often sold as skin-on fillets.

Storage: Store whole fish up to 2 days refrigerated; store fillets up to 1 day refrigerated.


1. When serving whole rockfish, trim off the sharp spiny fins before cooking or cutting up.

2. Remove the fat layer under the skin of rockfish fillets.

3. Bake, fry, poach, sauté, or steam, whole or in fillets.

Suggested Recipe: Steamed Rockfish with Hoisin and Spinach (serves 4): Combine 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, and 2 teaspoons grated orange zest. Spread on 4 (6- to 8-ounce) rockfish fillets. Steam 1/2 pound baby spinach briefly to wilt; reserve. Steam the fish for 12 minutes or until it flakes. Serve over the spinach.

Flavor Affinities: Brown butter, chiles, coconut, ginger, guava, kiwi, lemon, lime, mango, olive oil, orange, papaya, passion fruit, scallion, soy sauce, spinach, white wine.

from Quirk Books: