The rockfish name applies to about 70 different kinds of related fish found in the waters off the west coast of North America, the most common being the Pacific Ocean Perch. This delicate fish is lean and has a nutty flavor that flakes when cooked and is harvested commercially. Rockfish is sold under a variety of names such as Pacific Redfish or rock cod, (as if keeping track of what’s for sale wasn’t already hard enough without having to guess).
In the 1960s rockfish was overfished to a great degree,, but due to their long life and the fact they don’t reproduce until later in life, (dating between male and female rockfish is verboten until after high school) their population doesn’t bounce back as quickly as other species.
Some types of rockfish can be found off the coast of California just beneath the kelp canopy, while others like to hang out on the bottom among the coral or rocks. Fishermen report catching them from the shore or the end of piers using live bait, but great care should be taken when handling them. Rockfish are identified by the bony plates on the heads and sides and have spiny fins that are slightly venomous. It’s still not a fair fight between man and rockfish once it’s on the hook and in the boat, but any slippery, wet and wriggling fish with venomous spines on their back certainly keep things interesting for a few minutes.
If you can think of a way to cook a fish, the rockfish will probably taste great no matter what. Frying, poaching, microwaving – you name it; there’s dozens of ways to prepare rockfish. It’s very lean and is a good source of selenium and Vitamin B-12.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Rating
Rockfish is a “Best Choice” is handline caught off the coast of the US, with some species a “good alternative” if caught the same way. “Avoid” any rockfish caught by trawler.
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