Easy, fast, flexible, versatile, and delicious. What more could you ask? The star of this Pan-fried Rockfish recipe is the spicy dry rub: once you mix the spices up, pan-frying the fish is a snap! Ready to serve in just 20 minutes!
Why You Will Love this Fish Recipe
This is one of the all-round best fish recipes you’re ever going to find! Even if you’ve never cooked fish before, this is a winner.
★ It's easy: This recipe is super easy to put together, especially if you already have the spices mixed up.
★ It's fast: Even if you must mix the spices together first, it still only takes about 20 minutes, start to finish.
★ It's flexible: For the purposes of writing the recipe succinctly, we’ve highlighted rockfish as the primary protein; however, you can make this pan-fried fish with any firm, mild, white-fleshed fish.
★ It's versatile: It works as well for a fancy dinner presentation as it does for a quick weeknight meal.
★ It's tasty: No matter how fast, easy a recipe is, if it isn't good, it isn't worth it. So let me tell you right now, this blackened rockfish is delicious. I mean, really, really tasty. The dry rub highlights the fish's natural fresh flavor without overwhelming it.
BONUS: It makes excellent fish tacos!
Blackened Rockfish Ingredients
Rockfish works great for this recipe, but you can use any other mild, firm white-fleshed fish; including red snapper, true cod, halibut, sea bass, striped bass, and perch.
- Smoked paprika
- Kosher salt
- Garlic salt
- Brown sugar: Use light brown sugar.
- White sugar: Use regular granulated sugar.
- Ground pasilla pepper
- Ground New Mexico chili pepper
- Ground chipotle pepper
- Ground ginger: Make sure to use freshly ground ginger for the best result. Ginger has a shelf life of 3-4 years.
- Ground mustard: Same as the ginger.
We currently buy most of our spices online through various spice shops. (These are all from Savory Spice Shop.) We find they are much fresher than those found on grocery store shelves, and we know exactly what we are getting.
How to Make Spicy Pan-fried Rockfish
In a small bowl, mix together all the Dry Rub ingredients.
Pat the fish fillets down with paper towels, and then press both sides of each fish fillet into the spice mix.
The fillets should not be wet when they are put into the dry rub; it will adhere just fine on its own.
Remove fillets from dry rub and set aside.
Heat cast iron or heavy skillet over medium-high heat until a water droplet sizzles on the surface.
Add enough vegetable oil to lightly cover bottom of skillet.
Place prepared fish fillets into the heated skillet. Fry on first side for about 3 minutes, or until the bottom of the fish is nicely browned.
If you are using an electric skillet, set the temperature for 375°F (190°C). Maintain a temperature of 375-350°F (176-190°C) the entire time you fry the fish.
If you don't have an electric skillet, you can test the skillet temp by adding a droplet of water to the skillet. If it sizzles, the skillet is hot enough. Do not let it get too hot!
Turn the fillets over with tongs and brown the other side of the fillets for 2 to 3 minutes more; until the flesh is firm and opaque.
Remove the fillets from the skillet with tongs and drain on paper towels.
Our Spicy Dry Rub recipe was adapted from a recipe generously shared with us by Skillet Street Food.
- Rockfish: Other fishes that can be used for this recipe include Atlantic red snapper, true cod, halibut, sea bass, striped bass, and perch.
- Ground peppers: If you don't have the specific ground Mexican chiles on hand (i.e., New Mexico, pasilla, chipotle), you can substitute equal parts regular chili powder for whatever you're missing.
This fish recipe can be made in a heavy cast-iron skillet on the stovetop, but for best results, an electric skillet makes the job much easier.
Whether it's fried chicken, fish, or fritters, when it comes to pan-frying, an electric skillet can make all the difference between a crispy, golden crust and a soggy, overcooked one. A skillet heated on a traditional stovetop will inevitably have hot spots: an electric skillet will consistently keep the temperature you set.
According to the USDA, leftover fried fish should be safe to eat for a maximum of 3 days after it has been cooked. Store fish in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
Best Temperature for Frying Fish
It's important to maintain the correct temperature when frying fish: between 350°F and 375°F (176-190°C).
- If the temperature of oil in the pan drops down below 350°F (176°C), the fish will begin to absorb the cooking oil, resulting in greasy, soggy fish.
- If the temperature rises above 375°F (190°C), the fish will cook too quickly on the outside, and not get done in the middle.
When fried at the correct temperature, the fish will come out golden brown, having absorbed very little oil.
Also known as rock cod or Pacific snapper, rockfish is a bass-like fish that is found in abundance near the shores of North America's West Coast. There are over 70 different varieties of rockfish, and can usually be found in grocery stores year round.
Moderately firm, lean, and mildly flavored, rockfish is easy to prepare and perfect for pan-frying.
You will find the ground pasilla pepper and ground New Mexico chili pepper in the Mexican/Hispanic foods aisle of most grocery stores (in my area, Winco, Freddy's, and Safeway all stock them), or in your local Hispanic Mercado (i.e., Su Casa Imports, El Mercado, etc). We found the ground chipotle pepper in the bulk section at Winco.
All of the dried ground peppers are inexpensive and the recipe makes a lot of dry rub, so it will go a long way.
More Fresh Fish Recipes
What to Serve with Pan-fried Rockfish
A fresh Caesar salad on the side (traditional or kale) makes the perfect companion dish, effectively quelling the dry rub's heat without putting out the fire. It makes an excellent pairing with couscous, pilaf, and Mexican street corn!
Taco Tuesday: Blackened rockfish makes amazing fish tacos! Load it into corn tortillas, and top with shaved cabbage, crumbled cotija, and Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing for a quick, easy, delicious meal! Serve with Mango Avocado Salad for a full meal deal.
Pan-fried Blackened Rockfish
- 1 Enameled Cast Iron Skillet or heavy skillet
- 1 pound rockfish fillets or Pacific cod, red snapper or striped bass ½'-¾" thick
- 2-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Spicy Dry Rub
- In a small bowl, mix together all the Dry Rub ingredients.
- Pat the rockfish fillets down with paper towels, and then press both sides of each fish fillet into the dry rub mix. The fillets should not be wet when they are put into the dry rub; it will adhere just fine on its own.Remove fillets from dry rub and set aside.
- Heat cast iron or heavy skillet over medium-high heat until a water droplet sizzles on the surface.Add enough vegetable oil to lightly cover bottom of skillet.
- Place prepared fish fillets into the heated skillet.Fry on first side for about 3 minutes, or until the bottom of the fish is nicely browned.
- Using tongs, turn the fish over and brown the other side for 2 to 3 minutes more; until the flesh is firm and opaque.
- Remove the fillets from the skillet and drain on paper towels.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.
- Never leave seafood or other perishable food out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours or for more than 1 hour when temperatures are above 90°F. Bacteria that can cause illness grow quickly at warm temperatures (between 40°F and 140°F).
- Most seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F. (Shrimp: 120°F)
- Thaw frozen seafood gradually by placing it in the refrigerator overnight. If you have to thaw seafood quickly, either seal it in a plastic bag and immerse it in cold water, or — if the food will be cooked immediately thereafter — microwave it on the “defrost” setting and stop the defrost cycle while the fish is still icy but pliable.
- Keep hot seafood heated until time to serve or divide the seafood into smaller containers and keep them in a refrigerator until time to reheat and serve.
- Serve hot seafood under a heat source (e.g., hot lamp, crock pot, hot plate, etc.) if it is going to stay out longer than 2 hours or discard the seafood after 2 hours.
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food that previously touched raw meat or fish..
- Always wash hands after touching raw meat or fish.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods.
- Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds.
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove.
- Store food in suitable, covered containers.
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