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Renee Nicole's Kitchen - Everyday Gourmet » Main Dishes » Panko Crusted Oven Fried Rockfish Fillets

Panko Crusted Oven Fried Rockfish Fillets

Panko crusted oven fried rockfish fillets fry up golden brown with a light, crispy crunch. Their mild fish flavor and parmesan panko coating means these rockfish fillets are sure to please the pickiest palates. Serve these fried fish fillets as the main course in fish tacos, fish sandwiches, or even fish and chips. It’s easy enough for a weeknight, but impressive enough for date night too. Read up on my tips and tricks below, then try your hand at making them for yourself.

Two pieces of panko crusted rockfish and a green salad on a gray plate.

Originally appearing on the blog in February 2016, the recipe was last updated in August 2019 to add a video.

There is something so satisfying about biting into a piece of perfectly crispy fried rockfish, with a crunchy coating on the outside and tender fish inside. Not heavy or fishy tasting, but mild and light, it satisfies even picky palates.

The panko crust browns up quickly to a light golden brown and because the magic happens in your oven instead of on the stovetop, you aren’t left with a big mess to clean up. The fish itself has a light flavor, not fishy, with a firm but tender texture that melts in your mouth. 

Creating my perfect weeknight version of fried rockfish fillets took some trial and effort. Considering this is my most popular post, I’m sure you will agree that this fish recipe has it figured out.

Two pieces of panko crusted rockfish and a green salad on a gray plate next to two pieces of rockfish on a cooling rack.

Making Panko Crusted Rockfish

Getting this recipe just right took a few trials and a few errors. I discovered that perfecting this recipe involved not just one, but two tricks.

First panko style bread crumbs make a huge difference in the texture. Second, the combination of a cast iron skillet and the oven is a game changer. This fish cooks up in about 6 – 8 minutes, making a great option for a busy weekday evening.

A Little About Rockfish

For this recipe, I recommend rockfish. Here in the pacific northwest it is widely available. It is fairly inexpensive to buy and most of it is locally caught. Rockfish is a blanket term covering many different species of fish – more than 60 of which can be legally sold under the name rockfish – that all tend to lurk among the rocks near the bottom of the ocean.

Depending where you live, this fish can be called bass, red snapper, ocean perch or sea perch. While that can make fish buying confusing for many of us, lets focus less on the name and what we are looking for in a fish fillet.

Most importantly we are looking for a white fish, with a light flaky texture and a mild fish flavor. Most rockfish fillets that I find locally measure less than 1″ thick at their thickest point. This leads to a fast cooking time, which is key to getting this crispy coating and perfectly cooked fish at the same time.

If you are unable to find something labeled as rockfish, check with your butcher or seafood monger about substitutions. When I can’t find rockfish, I often substitute other types of whitefish like cod, tilapia, catfish or halibut.

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Breading Rockfish Fillets

If you aren’t familiar with panko style bread crumbs, allow me to introduce you to my crunchy friends. Yes, they are different from regular bread crumbs. Panko is a Japanese style breadcrumb with chunks that are larger, crispier, and lighter. This means that the resulting crust is light and almost delicate in texture, which is exactly what we want.

These days you should be able to find them in most grocery stores, either with the regular bread crumbs or in the Asian foods section.

Rockfish fillets set up to dredge in a flour, egg, and panko parmesan crust.

Dredging Rockfish Fillets

The recipe follows a standard dredging pattern to create a breading that doesn’t slide off. Start with the seasoned flour. Coat the fish lightly, making sure to get every available surface, then shake off any excess. Next dip it in the egg/milk mixture, again coating well.

Hold it up for a few seconds to allow any excess to drip off before placing it into the panko/parmesan mixture. Lightly press the mixture onto the fish, making sure it adheres fairly evenly. Place the breaded fish onto a clean plate to rest for at least 2 minutes before cooking so that the crumbs can soak into the egg.

The multiple steps are necessary to make it all stick. Wet won’t stick well to wet and dry won’t stick well to dry. By building the coating on in alternating layers of wet (fish), dry (flour), wet (egg), dry (panko) we create a crust that won’t fall off when we cook it or when we serve it.

Four pieces of panko crusted rockfish at the dredging station waiting to be fried.

Cooking Rockfish Fillets

Cooking these rockfish fillets in oven serves a few purposes. First, it allows you to use only 2 tablespoons of oil for frying. Much healthier than deep frying or even pan frying in a half inch of oil. Also, by cooking them in the oven the trapped heat allows them to cook through very quickly while the oil helps create that perfectly golden crust.

Bonus: the oven will contain all of the grease splatters, meaning less danger in the kitchen and less mess to clean up afterwards.

You will need to make sure that your pan is oven safe up to 450 degrees. While a stainless steel pan might get the job done, you will get better results with a cast iron skillet.

I previously recommended a 10″ skillet, but if you cut the larger fillets into two pieces, that 10″ skillet can get crowded. I now use a 13 3/4″ skillet. If you don’t have one that large, you can easily make this fish in two batches without the first one going cold.

You must preheat the oven with the pan inside. Be very careful when flipping these fillets over. Not only can grease splatter, but the tender fish can break apart. I use a spatula and a pair of tongs to gently turn the fish, but cutting the fish pieces in half makes this process much easier.

Alternative Air Fryer Instructions

I have received multiple requests for how to adapt this recipe for the air fryer and it’s a pretty simple fix. I have tested it in the Instant Vortex Plus air fryer oven. It should work the same in all air fryers, but you may need to adjust the timing.

The optimist in me would like to just swap oil frying for the air fryer with no recipe changes. The problem is that when panko is air fried without additional oil it gets super dry. Like cut the inside of your mouth dry. Which is not what we want.

To counter that dryness and maintain that just from the fryer texture, take part of the oil (2 tsp) and add it to the panko parmesan mixture. Stir it in to combine completely, then dredge the fish as instructed.

Setting the air fryer for 400º, it takes the same cook time in the air fryer as it does in the oven. You still want to flip them halfway through. Personally, I prefer the original recipe for flavor (real fried foods will always taste better in my book), but clean up in the air fryer is even easier.

Two pieces of panko crusted rockfish and a green salad on a gray plate in front of to two pieces of rockfish on a cooling rack.

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Panko Crusted Oven Fried Rockfish Fillets Recipe

Crispy, crunchy, golden brown panko crusted oven fried rockfish fillets are sure to please the pickiest palates. Serve them with a simple salad or try them with my Easy Oven Asparagus or Screaming Skillet Green Beans. These rockfish fillets are also excellent for fish tacos – swap them for the grilled fillets in these Grilled Rockfish Tacos.

If you have leftovers, or just want to do the work in advance, these fish fillets keep well in the fridge for a day or the freezer for up to 3 months. Freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet, then place in a zip top or other airtight container for storage. To reheat, bake in a 375 degree oven until they are hot through.

For more delicious entrees, check out my main dish recipe collection.

If you like this recipe, please give it a FIVE STAR rating and share with your friends!

Two pieces of panko crusted rockfish and a green salad on a gray plate.

Panko Crusted Oven Fried Rockfish Fillets

Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes

Panko crusted rockfish fillets are hand breaded and oven fried to the perfect golden brown on the outside with mild flaky fish on the inside. They make for an easy, but impressive dinner and even the pickiest palates will approve. (Now with air fryer instructions too!) 

Ingredients

Fish

  • 2 rockfish fillets*, 3/4 - 1 pound
  • 2 TBSP of olive or vegetable oil for frying

Flour Dredge

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg
  • 2 TBSP milk

Panko Crust

  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs**
  • 3 TBSP grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp of Old Bay Seasoning

Instructions

  1. Place a large oven safe skillet into the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.

Set up the dredging assembly line:

  1. In a large bowl combine together the the flour, salt and pepper. Stir then pour onto a large plate.
  2. In the same bowl combine together the panko, seasoning blend, and parmesan cheese. Stir then pour onto a large plate.
  3. Wipe out the bowl, then use it again to whisk together the egg and milk.

Prep the fish:

  1. Check the fish fillets for any bones and remove as necessary. Slice fish in half if necessary.***
  2. Dredge first first in the flour, shaking off any excess.
  3. Dip fish into the egg mixture, allowing any excess to drip off.
  4. Coat fish in the panko mixture, shaking off any excess. Place on a clean plate and allow to rest 1 - 2 minutes so the panko can adhere. 

Fry the fish:

  1. When the oven and frying pan are preheated, add the 2 tablespoons of oil to the hot pan. Allow to heat 1 minute. Carefully add fish fillets to the hot oil.
  2. Cook in the oven for 3 - 4 minutes, then carefully flip over.
  3. Cook an additional 3 - 4 minutes, then check with a meat thermometer for an internal temperature of at least 140 degrees.
  4. While fish cook, set up a cooling rack over a couple layers of paper towels. 
  5. Remove fish from the pan and place on the cooling rack. Allow to drain 3 - 5 minutes prior to serving.

Notes

*If you rockfish is thicker than 1" at their thickest point, you'll need to add an extra minute or two to the cook time. 

**Many of the rockfish fillets I find in the pacific northwest are too big to handle without splashing grease or having them fall apart on me. Slicing them into more manageable fillets makes this cooking method much easier. 

***If your rockfish fillets are large enough to cut into more than 2 pieces, you may want to add an extra tablespoon or two of panko to the crumb mixture. 

To adapt for the air fryer:
Cut the oil from 2 TBSP to 2 tsp. Combine the oil with the panko parmesan mixture, stirring to ensure the oil is absorbed by the panko, then dredge as instructed. Air Fry at 400º until crispy, about 6 - 8 minutes, turning over half way through the cook time.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 455Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 154mgSodium: 1415mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 36g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix and is for general information purposes only. For the most accurate information, calculate using your select brands and exact measurements.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram and don't forget to #reneenicoleskitchen

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Arlene

Saturday 21st of November 2020

Are you doing all the cooking and flipping in the oven or do you move the pan to the stove?

Arlene

Saturday 21st of November 2020

@Renee N Gardner, Thanks! It came out great!

Renee N Gardner

Saturday 21st of November 2020

All the cooking is done in the oven. It cooks super fast and contains most of the mess!

Lori Jacobs

Sunday 8th of November 2020

I think I'm missing something here. When do the fish fillets go in the oven for baking?

Renee N Gardner

Saturday 21st of November 2020

Hi Lori!

Step 1 in the recipe card under the section titled "Fry the Fish". I've copied it for you here:

1. When the oven and frying pan are preheated, add the 2 tablespoons of oil to the hot pan. Allow to heat 1 minute. Carefully add fish fillets to the hot oil.

Barbara Hanna

Monday 27th of April 2020

Made the Rockfish fillets today Delicious Will make again

Renee N Gardner

Thursday 30th of April 2020

That makes me so happy!

Tara

Wednesday 5th of February 2020

Rockfish is our new family favorite since they have it at Aldis! This is an amazing recipe that even my picky eater came back for THIRDS!! Great idea to cute filets to make smaller! worked well. I cooked so much, and thankful i did because there were no leftovers, that it took a bit of time with one pan. Next time...multiple! I did learn that with each new batch, I had to add more oil for it to brown right and that oil needs to get hot each time. So yummy!! and it didn't stink the house!

Colleen

Monday 16th of December 2019

This is a great recipe!! I’ve used it multiple times on the Black Rockfish we caught in Alaska this past summer. Do you have any Halibut recipes? Rockfish is almost gone, but we still have Halibut as I caught a 100# fish.

Thanks, Colleen

Renee N Gardner

Monday 23rd of December 2019

Colleen,

I am so glad you've enjoyed it and am so jealous that you are able to get out and catch your own. I don't have anything published for Halibut, but I do eat it all the time. Hopefully I'll have the chance to work out the kinks and get my recipe posted before you work your way through that huge fish!

Renee

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