Pan-seared Rockfish Recipe

A local chef shares a super-flavorful dish.

This healthy fish recipe includes grilled spring veggies, Meyer lemon quinoa and fried capers. It comes from Brian Ashby of 8th & Union Kitchen in Wilmington. Enjoy.

Pan-seared Rockfish with Grilled Spring Vegetables, Meyer Lemon Quinoa and Fried Capers


Season fish with kosher salt on both sides. I prefer to crisp the skin of the fish—I love the flavor of crunchy fish skin. Be sure to cook the skin side first in a searing hot pan with a neutral-flavored oil (we use canola). Tilt the pan toward you so the oil gathers in a pool and won’t splash you when you drop the fish into the pan. Always lower the fish gently, and held away from you. Cook for a few minutes on the skin side. Once you start to see brown color creeping up the sides of the fish, gently turn it in the pan (again, away from you so you don’t splash yourself with hot oil). Finish cooking in a hot oven to preferred doneness. You can tell how done a fish is by gently pressing down on the flesh to see if and how it separates. Allow fish to rest on a paper towel to drain excess oil.

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Grilled Spring Vegetables

We have been using local pak choi from Penn Farms, but bok choy would work well, too. We cut the heads into quarters, oil them very lightly and season with salt. Pat off any excess oil and grill until there is a good char. Try to avoid flare-ups—they’ll leave a gasoline flavor on the food.

We also use fennel. The fennel is cut into 1/16-sized pieces around the core. (The core helps to keep the pieces together.) We then marinate the fennel in canola oil with herbs and spices. This is also called “cold infusing.” Before placing on the grill, pat fennel with a paper towel to remove excess oil. Re-season with a touch of salt. Grill until there is a nice char and the fennel is cooked through.


  • 2 small heads fennel
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seed
  • 2 sprigs thyme bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

Preserved Meyer Lemon Quinoa

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  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 1 quart fish or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup finely diced preserved Meyer lemon*
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red Shallot
  • 1/4 cup high-quality olive oil
  • Salt, to desired taste
  • Lemon juice, to desired taste
  • 3/4 cup torn mint

Wash quinoa thoroughly. Cook quinoa as you would rice: on the stovetop by simmering, in a steamer or baked. Add spices, herbs or a bay leaf.

*Preserved Meyer lemon can be found at Janssen’s Market in Greenville.

Fried Capers

  • 1 cup capers
  • 1 quart vegetable oil

Strain liquid from capers. Heat oil to 325 degrees Fa. Fry capers until all of the liquid has evaporated (when the oil slows its bubbling). Strain oil and dry capers on a paper towel. Reserve oil. Now you have “caper oil,” which will be tasty for your next chicken or fish creation.

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