The Fantastic Mr. Feedbag

A website celebrating and enumerating Juneau, Alaska's food culture

Archive for the ‘rock fish’ Category

Pesto Rockfish with Rebecca

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For just over a year, I was in the Masters of Arts in Teaching program in secondary education. The experience was incredible. I loved student teaching at Floyd Dryden with my awesome host teacher, and peer learning community. It may sound cheesy, but I’ve missed my students this summer, and I know that they’ll all go on to do some great things with their lives.

The MAT program is only a year long, and so the course work is intense. The summer session has classes that span about three weeks long. One of my favorite people to work with in the MAT program has been my friend, Rebecca. I made a lot of friends in the program who are going all around the world, and state to teach. I’ll miss them all – especially old Jim-Bob, Chris, Nick, Mara, and Abe. I’ll be thinking good thoughts for Summer and Jennie as they go on into the next two quarters of the program, and finish up their student teaching.

A difficult thing for me during my Master’s program was not having enough time to prepare good food, and not getting enough sleep. I worked part-time during the program, an average of three evenings a week at two different local restaurants. It was difficult, but the reward of not having a student loan payment makes me feel like it was worth it. My friend Rebecca and I bonded the last couple of weeks of class. During our break we’d work on course work, and share our lunches. Often we had strangely constructed salads, made from random scraps we grabbed from our kitchens in the morning mad dash to school.

Last week we got together a couple of times to work on our Teacher Work Samples and portfolios, and ate decent food. Rebecca has a pretty good line of fresh local fish, and this fresh rockfish was fabulous.

We prepared the rockfish by baking it in an iron skillet with a simple rub of pesto, salt, and fresh ground pepper. Fresh fish doesn’t need much to be delicious, but it’s easily dried out if you bake it without a source of moisture. This iron skillet recipe could accommodate many kinds of fish.


Rebecca and I talked about how rockfish is often called a poor man’s version of halibut. We decided that this particular rockfish was actually just as flavorful, if not better than halibut that we’d both had this summer. Rockfish can be rad!

– Three to four filets of fresh rockfish (or whatever fish you have available)
– Two tablespoons of olive oil
– Fresh ground pepper & sea salt to lightly coat the filets
– One to two tablespoons of pesto (freshly made, or store bought: Costco brand is good & affordable) to coat each filet

– Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees
– Coat the pan in one to two tablespoons of olive oil
– Grind fresh pepper & sprinkle sea salt liberally on each side of your filets
– Rub a tablespoon or two of pesto into each side of your filets
– Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes (check on your filets at 20 minutes, or so to see if the fish is flaking – a good indication that it’s done)

Serving Suggestion:
We made an awesome fresh green salad with pine nuts and feta cheese to accompany our pesto rockfish filets. I’d suggest serving this fish with a Pinot Grigio, or an Alaskan Pale Ale.


Iron Skillet Rockfish Tagine

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I was at the downtown Juneau public library the other day exploring the cookbook section. I found a copy of Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World. A thick volume with a title that really delivers what it promises. There were so many recipes in fact, that at first I was a little overwhelmed. Where should I start? The answer was simple: with the freshest ingredients I could find. Yesterday I was making the rounds at Foodland and found a nice filet of fresh rockfish. Rockfish is cheaper than halibut, and though it’s flavor is no where near the glory of my favorite bottom feeder, it’s a suitable substitute when you haven’t got much money. It was easier to find a recipe in the book with a main ingredient to get inspiration from.

A tagine is a dish from North Africa named after the pot that it’s cooked in. Traditionally, a tagine pot is made from clay and consists of two separate parts. I made this dish in a tried and true well seasoned iron skillet. I think a pyrex baking dish would work just as well. Usually a tagine consists of a sweet component, a dried fruit, like apricots or plums. This recipe omitted that component, which was fine with me, but it you feel so inclined feel free to add a fruit or two.

This recipe was adapted from one in Bittman’s book.

Tagine Set

Above is a photo diagram that highlights the order of operations for layering this tagine.

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

This makes about 4 servings.


1/3 cup of finely chopped parsley, or cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
One 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 teaspoons of sweet paprika
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1/2 cup of olive oil
1.5 to 2 pound fillet of rockfish or halibut
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
5 small tomatoes, cored
3 teaspoons ground cumin
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 large onion, sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup of olives, (kalamata or green)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Whisk together the first 5 ingredients in a shallow baking dish. Place the fish in the marinade and turn to coat. Refrigerate fish in marinade while preparing the rest of the dish.

2. Place the garlic, cayenne, tomatoes, cumin, a large pinch of salt, and a sprinkle of pepper in a food processor and pulse until mixture is coarsely chopped. Oil the bottom of your baking dish. Lay the onion slices across the bottom, then top with the tomato mixture. Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture becomes juicy.

3. Remove the foil and lay the fish on top of the tomato mixture; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay the lemon slices on top of the fish, then pour on the fish marinade; top with olives. Cover and bake for another 15 minutes, or until a thin bladed knife passes through the fish with little resistance. Garnish with additional parsley or cilantro and serve immediately.

Each serving has around 5 WW points with sauce left over for another dish or a later fish stew.

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Written by Patrice Helmar

November 5, 2010 at 10:02 pm