Maryland Seafood Season Rocks

Sponsored by Balducci’s By Jason Miller, Corporate Chef, Balducci’s

Growing up on the Eastern Shore, our family ate a lot of Maryland seafood. Crab, fish, oysters and clams were all central ingredients for our family get-togethers. And over the years, I’ve landed a lot of what we brought to our table. I’ve been a crabber and fisherman since I was a boy and love getting out on the Chesapeake, chasing whatever is in season. Early spring brings a short, sweet season of yellow perch, then shad and finally, around April, trophy rockfish season starts when the biggest and baddest stripers come into the bay. You may know it as striped bass, but whatever you call it rockfish is a delicious local fish: light, delicate and easy to prepare.


One of the quickest ways to get a rockfish dinner to the table is to serve it with a meunière sauce. Basically a brown butter sauce with lemon, parsley and chives, it’s one of the simplest sauces there is. The trick is getting the skin on the fish crispy and keeping the butter from getting too brown or the sauce from breaking.

Rock Fish à la Meunière

Serves 4


  • 4 filets (6–8 ounces each) Maryland Rockfish
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon each salt & pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ pound cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 large shallots, sliced thin into rings
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 ounces Balducci’s Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, sliced thin
  • 1 pinch flakey sea salt / finishing salt

Combine the flour, Old Bay, salt and pepper into a small mixing bowl and whisk to mix. Season the rockfish on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge rockfish in the seasoned flour SKIN SIDE ONLY.

Heat a nonstick sauté pan over medium to medium-low heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the rockfish to the pan SKIN SIDE DOWN. Note: Make sure your pan is not too hot. You want it hot enough so that the fish will not stick, but not so hot that when you add the butter it will burn. You should hear a soft sizzle!

Cook fish for 2–3 minutes, then add roughly ⅓ of the cubed butter to the pan and watch the heat. The butter should just brown, not burn. Continue cooking the fish skin side down. You want the fish to cook 90% on the skin side; this will give you nice crispy skin. When it looks fairly well cooked through, carefully flip filets and finish in pan. Remove fish filets and let rest until served.

Add shallots and garlic directly to the browned butter in the pan. Sauté for about 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the wine first, then lemon juice; let cook for about a minute. Add parsley and chives.

While stirring rapidly with a wooden spoon, and shifting pan on and off the heat, slowly add the remainder of the butter. At this point you do not want the pan sauce to boil; it will break. Once butter is emulsified totally, remove from heat, season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately by plating fish, top with pan sauce and season fish if desired with the finishing salt.

Balducci's: Imagine a market where taste comes first, above all else. A place where the produce is hand-selected, where meats are prime cuts, and the fish is flown in fresh from the wharves. Imagine restaurant-quality prepared foods, the finest imported cheeses and other delicacies, and a variety of meats roasted and smoked in the Old World tradition. But it's no figment of the imagination; this market is Balducci's, serving food lovers for more than 100 years. Shop at locations in Bethesda, MD, Alexandria, VA and McLean, VA.

Strawberries! A Shrub and a Salad for the Season

Space Division

Space Division

There are so many ways to use this tart syrup. I like a ratio of 3 tablespoons to ½ cup sparkling water for a light, refreshing drink. Or try muddling some mint and mix the shrub with rum or vodka and a splash of bitters. You just made your new favorite spring drink! Makes 3–4 cups syrup.

1 cup sugar 1 cup water 4 cups strawberries, hulled and halved 4 cups chopped rhubarb stalks, cut in 1-inch pieces ½ teaspoon black peppercorns Vinegar—this is the fun part! (See tip)

Mix sugar and water in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add rhubarb, strawberries and peppercorns. Stir occasionally as fruit releases liquid and returns to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Cool and strain through a sieve, pressing on solids to release liquid.

Mix 4 parts fruit syrup to 1 part vinegar. Store in the refrigerator.

Space Division

Space Division

Strawberry & Shaved Fennel Salad

Serves 6

Red, white and Waldorf. This is my take on the classic American salad created at its namesake New York City hotel near the end of the 19th century. Crisp fresh fennel stands in for celery while sweet spring strawberries replace fall apples. Toasted pumpkin seeds replace earthy walnuts and a white balsamic vinaigrette offers a lighter alternative to the traditional mayonnaise dressing. So maybe, after all, this has nothing at all to do with a Waldorf salad—but it did provide exquisite inspiration.

This light, crisp, sweet salad is the perfect side for your Memorial Day cookout. Serve it on its own, or over fresh greens like baby spinach or butter lettuce.

For dressing:

  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ⅓ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • ⅔ cup grapeseed or vegetable oil

For salad:

  • 2 cups hulled and sliced strawberries
  • 2 fennel bulbs, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fennel fronds, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves
  • ¼ cup toasted pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)

In a medium bowl, combine shallot, sugar, mustard and vinegar with a pinch of salt. Whisk together. Combine strawberries, fennel, fennel fronds and mint in a separate bowl. Toss together.

While whisking, add oil to vinegar in a thin stream, to form a creamy emulsion.

Taste dressing with a forkful of fennel and strawberry. Season dressing to taste with additional sugar or vinegar as desired and toss with salad. Sprinkle with toasted pepitas and serve.

Tip: Fennel has a hard, white, cone-shaped core. To remove it, quarter the fennel and cut out the core before thinly slicing the more tender bulb.


About the Chef


Jonathan Bardzik is a DC–based storyteller, cook and author. He is self-taught and inspired by the fresh produce he enjoyed from his family’s garden and now finds at DC’s wonderful farm markets, where he gives weekly demos throughout most of the year. His new book, Seasons to Taste: Farm-fresh Joy for Kitchen and Table, is a four-season look at farm- and garden-fresh food and the people we share it with. It follows his first book, Simple Summer: A recipe for cooking and entertaining with ease. Jonathan’s books and original recipes can be found at, along with a calendar of his live appearances.

Spring Ramp Pesto

Recipe and photos by Raisa Aziz, EdibleDC contributor


Spring is here! The market is filled with greens and pinks and light yellows. I can smell lilac and a hint of spring onions as I walk through the stalls. It's pretty joyous after months of bundling up and eating root vegetables at every meal.

It's also time for ramps. Somewhere between a leek and spring garlic, ramps have a fairly short season and are usually hand foraged, so it's best to enjoy them while you can. Ramps have a unique strong oniony garlicky flavor making them an excellent base for pesto.


My recipe for ramp pesto is light on the garlic and heavier on the lemon, perfect for a perfect spring pasta or on a pizza or flatbread. Pesto can also be frozen, so it's a great way to save the flavor of ramp season for later.


Spring Ramp Pesto

One bunch ramps, loosely chopped (about 2 cups)

1/2 cup unsalted cashews 1/2 cup pine nuts 1/4 cup parmesan cheese 1/4 cup olive oil 1/2 lemon, squeezed 1 clove garlic Salt and pepper, to taste

Toast nuts in a saucepan on medium heat, moving frequently, for about 2-4 minutes until lightly golden. Set aside. Place nuts, olive oil, cheese, ramps, lemon juice and garlic into a food processor. Pulse in bursts until smooth. You may need to use a spatula to move the mixture around a few times so there are no big chunks in your pesto. Add salt and pepper to taste and pulse once more. Spoon pesto into a jar with a tight lid. Add a thin layer of olive oil to the top to prevent browning. Refrigerate and use within a week. You can also freeze the pesto in an air-tight container.


Raisa Aziz (@raisaaziz) is a food stylist, photographer and writer in the DC area. When not cooking, baking or eating, you can find her bopping about town in search of local adventures.