Chilipepper Rockfish range from Baja California to British Columbia, though in the United States, most are landed along the central coast of California. The fish has an elongated head that lacks spines, a protruding lower jaw and a distinct bright red-orange color.
In 2000, the U.S. Pacific groundfish fishery, of which Chilipepper and some 90 other species are a part, was on the verge of collapse, and the federal government declared it a disaster. Today the same fishery has rebounded, providing enough certified sustainable seafood to satisfy 17 million Americans for an entire year.
Fishermen, regulators and conservationists, including Environmental Defense Fund, worked together to design a catch share plan that fishery managers adopted in 2008. It went into operation in 2011.
Fishermen were central to helping determine sustainable catch limits and appropriate shares of the catch. The discard rate, or amount of bycatch and wasted fish in this fishery, has plummeted 75%, bringing total discards down to about 5% of the catch—a very low number given the size of the fishery and the diversity of its species.
Medium-firm flesh suitable for many types of preparations. This fish is sometimes called the Pacific red snapper, though it technically is not a snapper. When buying, the skin should be shiny and bright and is stale if it appears yellow, orange or wrinkled. The fillets hold together best with the skin on and should be moist when pressed and bounce back to original form.
Steamed Chilipepper Rockfish:
Steamed Chilipepper Rockfish with Scallions and Nuoc Mam
CHEF SETH CASWELL
YIELD: 4 PORTIONS
3-4 Pacific Chilipepper Rockfish filets
21/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
31/2 tablespoons scallion chiffonadeGarnish
31/2 tablespoons scallion chiffonade
6 tablespoons Nuoc Mam
1 sprig micro cilantro
1. Portion rockfish into 3 oz. Sizing will differ as the rockfish filets taper towards the tail.
2. Place portioned rockfish on perforated sheet pans (or hotel pans). Place 2-3 pieces of ginger and 3-4 pieces of scallion atop each fish filet.
3. Steam the fish for 3-5 minutes, depending on thickness of filet.
4.On small plate, use spatula to place rockfish at center of plate.
5. Spoon 11/2 Tbsp (3/4 oz) Nuoc Mam over the top of fish.
Serving Suggestion: Place generous pinch of scallions on top of the sauced fish and scatter the cilantro around the fish. Serve.
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