Easy, fast, flexible, versatile, and delicious. What more could you ask? The star of this pan-fried fish 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 Recipe
This is one of the all-round best fish recipes you’re ever going to find! Even if you’ve never made fish before, this is a winner.
EASY. This recipe is super easy to put together, especially if you already have the spices mixed up.
FAST. Even if you must mix the spices together first, it still only takes about 20 minutes, start to finish.
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.
VERSATILE. It works as well for a fancy dinner presentation as it does for a quick weeknight meal. It also makes fabulous fish tacos!
TASTY. No matter how fast, easy, or otherwise a recipe is, if it isn't good, it isn't worth it. So let me tell you right now, this pan-fried fish is delicious. I mean, really, really tasty. The dry rub highlights the fish's natural fresh flavor without overwhelming it.
What Goes into this Recipe
★ Fish: 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.
Sugar: We use white sugar for the dry rub, but I imagine that brown sugar would work in a pinch.
★ Dried ground chiles: All of the dried ground chiles are inexpensive, and the recipe makes a lot of spice mix, so it will go a long way.
You will find the ground pasilla pepper and ground New Mexico chili pepper in the Mexican/Hispanic foods aisle of most grocery stores, or in your local Hispanic Mercado.
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.
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.
The flavor of the dry rub may be slightly less complex, but delicious just the same.
★ 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.
How to Make Spicy Pan-fried Fish
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.
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.
FAQs & Expert Tips
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.
Other fishes that can be used for this recipe include Atlantic red snapper, true cod, halibut, sea bass, striped bass, and perch.
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 very inexpensive and the recipe makes a lot of dry rub, so it will go a long way.
Our Spicy Dry Rub recipe was adapted from a recipe generously shared with us by Skillet Street Food.
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.
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