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
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. balduccis.com.