Panko crusted rockfish fillets are oven fried to a 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 this rockfish recipe 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.
An Easy Rockfish Recipe
There is something so satisfying about biting into a piece of perfectly crispy fried fish hot from the oven. Especially when it’s a piece of oven fried rockfish.
The rockfish in this recipe is not heavy or fishy tasting, it’s a mild flavored fish with a firm but tender texture that melts in your mouth. Add to it the light crunchy coating on the outside and it satisfies even the pickiest of palates.
What really makes this a great recipe is that the magic (shallow pan frying) happens in your oven instead of on the stovetop, which means you use a lot less oil and you aren’t left with a big greasy mess to clean up. Not only does that make this a healthier alternative to deep frying, it’s fast enough for a quick weeknight meal.
Perfecting this rockfish recipe took some trial and effort, but based on reader reviews and comments they agree that it’s the best of the best rockfish recipes. Just check out the reviews in the comments below!
What You’ll Need
These panko crusted rockfish fillets are made in four simple steps and require rockfish fillets and a few pantry staples to put it all together.
- Rockfish Fillets – Two large fillets weighing about 3/4 – 1 pound. Cut them in half to make them easier to handle.
- Neutral Oil for Frying – Olive oil is common, but I prefer avocado oil. Any oil for high heat will work.
- All Purpose Flour – The main component in the flour dredge. It’s job is to create a base layer so that the panko crust will stick.
- Egg and Milk – Together these make up the egg wash, which creates the sticky layer between the flour dredge and the panko crust.
- Panko Bread Crumb – The larger crumb size ensures a crispy coating that is much less likely to get soggy.
- Parmesan Cheese – The not so secret ingredient in my panko crust. It adds flavor and helps bind the crust together.
- Old Bay Seasoning – A one stop spice blend that you can easily find in your local grocery store, it’s a tasty compliment to rockfish and most other kinds of seafood.
- Salt and Pepper – The gold standard for seasoning in the American kitchen, this recipe wouldn’t be the same without them.
A Little About Rockfish – Selecting Your Fish
For this recipe, I recommend rockfish. Here in the pacific northwest it is widely available at the local grocery store. 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 rocky reefs near the bottom of the ocean.
Depending where you live, this fish can be called striped bass, pacific red snapper, rock cod, 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.
Recommended Kitchen Tools
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- Large 13″ cast iron skillet or other oven safe skillet
- 3 large plates or platters (for dredging)
- Fish turner or large metal spatula
- Cooling rack (optional – can drain on paper towels, but won’t be as crispy)
How to Make Panko Crusted Rockfish in the Oven
While getting this recipe just right took a few trials and a few errors on my part, my exhaustive testing has resulted in an easy to make rockfish recipe. The fish filets cook up in about 6 – 8 minutes, making it a great option for a busy weekday evening. Check out this video for an easy step by step overview of this recipe.
Breading Rockfish Fillets
Panko style bread crumbs make a huge difference in the texture. 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.
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.
Cooking Rockfish Fillets
The combination of a cast iron skillet and the oven was a game changer when developing this recipe. 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.
Panko Crusted Rockfish Fillets Recipe
Crispy, crunchy, golden brown panko crusted 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.
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- 2 rockfish fillets*, 3/4 - 1 pound
- 2 tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil for frying
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs**
- 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning
- Place a large oven safe skillet into the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.
Set up the dredging assembly line:
- In a large bowl combine together the the flour, salt and pepper. Stir then pour onto a large plate.
- In the same bowl combine together the panko, seasoning blend, and parmesan cheese. Stir then pour onto a large plate.
- Wipe out the bowl, then use it again to whisk together the egg and milk.
Prep the fish:
- Check the fish fillets for any bones and remove as necessary. Slice fish in half if necessary.***
- Dredge fish first in the flour, shaking off any excess.
- Dip fish into the egg mixture, allowing any excess to drip off.
- 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:
- 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.
- Cook in the oven for 3 - 4 minutes, then carefully flip over.
- Cook an additional 3 - 4 minutes, then check with a meat thermometer for an internal temperature of at least 140 degrees.
- While fish cook, set up a cooling rack over a couple layers of paper towels.
- Remove fish from the pan and place on the cooling rack. Allow to drain 3 - 5 minutes prior to serving.
*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.
For the step by step version of this recipe, check out the Panko Crusted Rockfish Fillets Story.