Pan Seared Rockfish in Citrus Butter Sauce w/ Herb Couscous & Asparagus

During my father’s recent visit to Dallas, I made him pan seared rockfish in citrus butter caper sauce with whole wheat herb couscous and asparagus.  What made this meal special was the Rockfish was freshly caught off the coast of Alaska just two weeks prior to his visit, during our family vacation.  My husband and I went on a charter, Alaska Northern Outfitters out of Seward, and we caught 14 fish between us both.  Needless to say, we don’t need to go to the Fishmonger any time soon, as our freezer is full of rockfish, halibut, and salmon.

Serves 6-8

6 fillets Rockfish – cut into thirds
1 cup AP Flour
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Onion powder
1/4 teaspoon Garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried Thyme
4 tablespoons organic Butter
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil


2 tablespoons organic Butter
1 lb Asparagus – blanched
1 large Shallot – finely chopped
1 large Lemon – juiced & zested
1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Couscous
3 cups Water
1 tablespoon Italian Parsley – finely chopped
1 tablespoon Cilantro – finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon Mint – finely chopped
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper


6 oz organic Butter
10 – 12 cloves Garlic – finely minced
2 large Lemons juiced
2 tablespoons Capers
Italian Parsley – finely chopped for garnish
Salt and Pepper to taste

Begin by cleaning the asparagus and cutting off the woody part, which is where the stem breaks off from the top part of the asparagus, when you snap it in half.  Or, it is about 1 to 2 inches from the bottom, depending on your asparagus.  Now, cut them into two inch pieces.

Blanch the asparagus is boiling salted water for about 3 minutes, then shock them in ice water to stop the cooking process and retain their beautiful deep green color.  In 5 minutes, remove them from the ice water, and place them on a towel to dry.

To make the seasoned flour, add the salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and dried thyme to the flour.  Stir to ensure the seasoning is evenly distributed into the flour.  Lightly dredge each piece of rockfish in the seasoned flour, and place it on a platter.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a pan on medium high heat, add the butter and olive oil, until the butter is melted and lightly bubbling.  Place a few fish filets in the hot pan.  Do not move or touch the fish for about 3 to 4 minutes.  Also, do not crowd the pan, as the fish will steam instead of sear. Now that the fish is seared on one side, gently turn each filet over to the other side for about 2 minutes.  Place the seared fish on a rack over a large sheet pan and into the oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven, and allow to rest.

Meanwhile, bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan.  Remove the boiling water from the heat, and add the couscous, salt, pepper, and lemon zest, then cover and set aside for 5 minutes.

In a sauté pan, sweat the shallot in butter, then add the asparagus for 1 minute to slightly reheat it.

Using a fork, transfer the couscous from the saucepan to a large bowl.  Using a fork will keep the couscous from clumping.  Add the sautéed shallots with the butter from the pan, asparagus, parsley, cilantro, mint, and lemon juice.  Stir well with a fork.

In the same sauté pan used for the shallots, melt the butter over medium low heat to make the citrus butter sauce.  Add the finely minced garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Swirl the pan around over the heat for the garlic to get evenly coated with the hot butter.  Cook over the stove for about 1 minute, then add the lemon juice and capers to the pan, and sauté for another minute or two.  DO NOT overcook the garlic, as it will become bitter.  Take the pan off the heat before the garlic changes color, then add the  parsley.

To plate, take a couple of large spoonfuls of the couscous and asparagus, and place them on a serving plate.  Place a couple of pieces of fish on the side, up against the couscous.  Gently, spoon a few spoonfuls of the citrus butter sauce over both the fish and the couscous, if so desired.  Serve and ENJOY!

Alaska Northern Outfitters – Seward, AK

This summer, my family and I went to Anchorage, Alaska, to visit my husband Kevin’s family.  My father-in-law served in the Air Force for many years and was later stationed in Anchorage, where he raised his family.  So, even though Kevin was not born in Alaska, he considered it home.  During our stay in the Last Frontier, we went on a fishing charter out of Seward, Alaska Northern Outfitters.

It was a very early July morning in Anchorage, as we gathered to take the two to three hour trip to Seward for my very first fishing charter.  My brother-in-law kindly organized this charter trip for the family a couple of weeks before our arrival.  By 6:30am, we were on the boat heading out of Resurrection Bay and into the vast ocean, which took between one and a half to two hours.   Once we were out far enough into the ocean, Captain Sean dropped the anchor.  I will spare you any details of my unfortunate seasickness; apparently, I had yet to get my sea legs.  Overcast and cold, the Captain, very meticulously, taught everyone what to do, how to cast a line, and how to reel in a fish.  We were allowed four rockfish, only one of which could be a yellow-eye, and two halibut per person.  After we reached our quota, we were allowed to fish for salmon.  Being a natural fisherman, my husband reached the fishing quota for the day rather quickly, and he was able to reel in two silver salmon.  I, on the other hand, wasn’t feeling well enough to fish for salmon.  I did, however, get the allowable four Rockfish and two halibut.  Not too shabby for a city girl … One may call it “beginner’s luck”, especially considering the way I was feeling.  I have to mention that the Captain came into the cabin, where I spent most of the trip, and checked on me a couple of times, which was rather kind.  He and his crew were also on deck with everyone assisting them with their catch.

After seven to eight hours of fishing, the Captain pulled the anchor, as we headed back to shore.  During the time it took to get back to land, Captain Sean and his very talented crew filleted every fish that was caught that day (over 80 fish), while we all looked on with bewildering amazement.  The deck was then cleaned of all the fish blood, guts, and carcasses.

Back on land, we were all given the choice of whether to have our fish frozen and packaged or taken as is and rinsed, packaged, and frozen at home.  We opted for the latter.  The family had already brought some coolers that were later filled with ice to keep the fish cold on the drive back to Anchorage.

I have to say that this charter trip was quite AMAZING! The Captain and crew were very knowledgeable and professional, the scenery was beautiful, the family was together, and the catch was worth it.  To have freshly caught fish from the ocean off the coast of Anchorage in my freezer in Dallas was well worth my seasickness.  Next time, however, I will bring a truckload of Dramamine with me.