Where are the rockfish in Chesapeake Bay?


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 recipe 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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


Cooking these rockfish fillets in the 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.


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.


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