Blackened Rock Cod with Red Pepper Sauce

Unfortunately, I have yet to land my first pelagic fish of the 2012 season. On our last trip we ended up running down to Punta San Thomas just south of Ensenada. The bottom fishing there is very good, so we did scratch up enough to bring home fresh fish for dinner. The anchorage is comfortable and it was blowing a solid 20 when we went to bed and it blew most of the night. We left at 7:30 the next morning with 85 miles to go, so the next time we will plan to spend five days or so to fish. I came up with this recipe for our rockfish. It goes great with the red pepper sauce, summer veggies and farro, a grain that’s similar to barley.


Serves 4

  • 4 Cod Fillets, 7 ounces each
  • 4 Tbsp. Soft, nonsalted Butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Blackening Seasoning
  • 2 Onions, Diced
  • 6 ounces Farro
  • 2 Quarts Vegetable Broth/Base
  • Choice of Summer Vegetables, blanched, buttered and seasoned
  • 2 Red Peppers, split, seeds removed, roasted over an open flame, excess skin removed
  • ¼ Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • ½ Tbsp. Chipotle Puree
  • Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper


Make sure the butter is soft and at room temperature. Then generously coat the cod fillets with the butter and sprinkle a generous amount of your favorite Blackening Spice on both sides. Place the fish in the refrigerator.

Sautee and simmer one diced onion with some oil until the onion is soft. Add two quarts of vegetable broth and set on a slow simmer. Stir the stock every 15 minutes to avoid scorching the bottom.

Add the Farro grain to the stock and cover. Farro is similar to barley and cooks up like rice. It’s popular in Europe and goes very well with fish. The Farro should be done within 30 minutes, but check the consistency to make sure it is soft enough for your liking. If not, let it simmer a bit more.

For this recipe I use asparagus, summer squash, roasted baby tomatoes, carrots and zucchini. Cook the vegetables al dente, dust with salt and pepper and hold on the side.

I am not a big fan of using a scalding, piping red-hot cast iron pan to blacken fish. I believe the super-hot pan burns the seasonings and diminishes the flavor. Instead, I like to heat up a large, non-stick pan on high, add in a little bit of oil and then add the coated fish fillets and cook to an internal temperature of 145 degrees. It won’t take long to cook the fish in a hot pan, so be careful not to overcook.

The Roasted Red Pepper sauce goes great with any kind of fish and is very simple to make. To keep it healthier, leave out the heavy cream and add more vegetable broth.

Start by simmering a diced onion in a pan until soft. Add the roasted red peppers and simmer five more minutes. Add two cups of broth and heavy cream and simmer until reduced by 80 percent.

You will want this to be a little bit thick because when you puree the mix, it will release liquid from the red peppers and loosen up your sauce.

Add the Chipotle puree and mix well.

Use either a hand-immersion blender or a regular blender to puree the entire mix. Be careful when using a standard blender as you will want to pulse the mix a few times to release any steam. This will help you avoid a sauce explosion with hot sauce flying out of the blender.

Pour the sauce back in the pan and check for consistency. If it is too thick, you can add broth. If it’s too thin you can add some cream or simmer it a bit longer to thicken it up.

Test for seasoning and adjust to your liking. Plate your fish and veggies and dress with the red pepper sauce.

Blackened Rock Cod with Red Pepper Sauce

Chef Steve Black
Chef Steve Black attended Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1986. His hotel career began at...