Saturday, March 12, 2011

Rockfish Provencal

Recently, I decided that I wanted to make a nice meal for my wife.  I did not know quite what to make, and, I perused a bunch of recipes until I came across one for Halibut Provencal.  I went to my local grocery store, but they did not have halibut, and many of my choices -- such as cod -- were not very sustainable. There was one fish that is rated as sustainable and, even better, it is a local fish from the Chesapeake bay ... rockfish.

Now, not all rockfish are sustainable and, indeed, the name "rockfish" is a little misleading.  Many fish go by different names when sold in the store, which makes buying fish based upon sustainability a major challenge.  Rockfish is a very good example because it may be labeled with many completely different names, such as Red Snapper, Black Bass and Striped Bass.  On the West Coast, a "rockfish" is more than likely a snapper while, on the East Coast, it is more than likely a striped bass.

So, it is important to see where the fish is caught, and that will more often than not tell you if the fish is sustainable.  Rockfish or Striped Bass caught in the Chesapeake Bay are sustainable because, unlike some of the other residents of the bay (most notably blue crabs and oysters), there are still sufficient populations of rockfish in the bay and the amounts of rockfish that may be caught are subject to strict regulation.

With all of that said, I decided to make Rockfish Provencal, which is a great dish that brings together all of the flavors of Provence, such as garlic, fennel, tomatoes, olives and sage. This is a very delicious dish.

Adapted from 
Serves 4

1 1/4 pounds of Rockfish
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, diced finely
1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
2 shallots, sliced thinly
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 can of whole, peeled tomatoes
1/2 cup of bottled clam juice
12 black olives, pitted
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of fresh sage, chiffonade or cut into fine strips 

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Heat the olive oil in a deep, ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Saute the garlic and red pepper flakes for about a minute.  Add the shallots and fennel, continuing to saute for about another five minutes.  Add the tomatoes and the clam juice.  Breakdown the tomatoes using a potato masher until they are in large pieces.  Remove from the heat and stir in the olives.

3. Season the rockfish with salt and pepper.  Arrange the rockfish over the hot tomato mixture in the skillet.  Bake in the preheated oven for about fifteen to twenty minutes, until the cook is fished through.  Stir in the sage chiffonade into the tomato mixture.

4.  Plate the fish first and then spoon the tomato mixture over the fish.


For more about sustainable choices when buying Rockfish, check out Seafood Watch.

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