Fish doesn't have to be complicated to be delicious. This easy-peasy baked rockfish recipe is simple and over-the-top delicious with a gorgeous, flavorful pistachio gremolata. It's everything you want in an easy fish recipe...and more!
If, like me, you didn't grow up eating rockfish, let me introduce you to this rockstar. If you enjoy classics like cod and grouper, rockfish will be right in your comfort zone.
What is rockfish and what does it taste like?
Rockfish is a type of flaky white fish known for its firm texture, mild and slightly sweet flavor. These fish are sometimes called rock cod, Pacific snapper, Pacific ocean perch, or redfish. Similar fish types include red snapper, grouper, and sea bass, if you need to find a substitute.
The nutty flavor of the pistachio and herb gremolata pairs so well with the mild fish. Traditionally, gremolata is an Italian sauce made from parsley, lemon and garlic.
I've dialed it up a bit by combining pistachios, basil and orange zest as the primary flavors, along with garlic and olive oil. You may want to double the herby garnish to serve over steamed white rice, roasted potatoes, steamed veggies or vanilla ice cream.
Okay, maybe not the ice cream.
But everything else!
Looking for more rockfish inspiration? Try our Pan-Seared Rockfish with Creamy Dill Sauce next!
What you'll need to make this fish recipe:
Before we jump into the step-by-step instructions, a few notes about the ingredients.
Fish: Pacific rockfish is a great option for this recipe, but if you have easier access to another flaky white fish, feel free to substitute!
Dairy free: If you're looking for a dairy-free recipe, simply omit the parmesan or substitute nutritional yeast in the recipe for a similar umami flavor. Start with 1 ½ tablespoons nutritional yeast, then taste and adjust.
Nuts and Herbs: Pistachios and basil are a match made in heaven. But feel free to substitute walnuts or pine nuts in this recipe. Fresh soft herbs like flat leaf parsley or chives will also work in place of basil.
Citrus: I can't overstate how magical orange or tangerine zest are when combined with pistachios. If you must find an alternative, fresh lemon zest will do the trick.
Full ingredient list and measurements included in printable recipe card below.
How to make baked rockfish with gremolata:
Step 1: Prep Fish and Bake
Preheat oven to 375℉. Dry fish fillets well with paper towels. Season both sides with coarse kosher salt and a drizzle of olive oil. If you're feeling fancy, slice up oranges or tangerines (after you've zested them!) and lay in 2's on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Place seasoned fish fillets on oranges. Transfer to oven and bake until cooked through (145℉ internal temperature). Cooking time will vary based on the thickness of the fillets, but generally speaking the fish will take 10-14 minutes in the oven.
Step 2: Prepare Pistachio Basil Gremolata
While the fish is baking, zest your orange or tangerines. Then combine the citrus zest with chopped pistachios, basil, grated garlic clove, grated parmesan, black pepper and olive oil. Stir to combine. Taste and add salt, if needed. Feel free to add a little more olive oil if you want a saucier-sauce. Then set aside.
Step 3: Plate, Garnish and Serve!
Once the fillets are cooked through, use a thin fish spatula to transfer them to dinner plates. Top with pistachio basil gremolata.
FAQ's and Serving Suggestions:
You can absolutely use frozen fish, especially if fresh rockfish fillets aren't easily available in your local grocery store. If using frozen fish, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. If you're short on time, soak wrapped fillets in cold water for 30 minutes, until thawed. Then dry well with paper towels before seasoning and baking.
Rockfish is wild-caught fish found in the Pacific anywhere between California and Alaska. The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch is a great resource for identifying all different species of fish that are considered quality seafood and that are harvested in a sustainable way. They classify most different types of rockfish positively, with a few exceptions. I have found rockfish to be consistently delicious and high quality when following their recommendations.
Rockfish is a traditional, white flaky fish. Monkfish is commonly referred to as "poor man's lobster" because of it's firm texture, shape and flavor. But I've seen recipes using flaky white fish (such as rockfish) in a brining solution that is said to firm up and sweeten the fish to taste more like lobster.
Transfer baked rockfish fillets to an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Store pistachio gremolata separately in a small jar or airtight container.