Baked Rockfish with Lemon & Parsley Butter
10 to 12 sprigs Italian parsley
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
1 to 1½ pounds rockfish fillets (or other fish; 4 to 6 ounces per serving)
First make the lemon and parsley butter. Grate the zest of the lemon. Chop the leaves of the parsley. Peel and finely dice the shallot, put it in a bowl, and squeeze lemon juice over to just cover. Let the shallot macerate in the juice for 10 minutes, then add the butter, lemon zest, and parsley. Season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper, and mash the butter to mix everything together.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly oil a shallow baking dish or roasting pan, or line with parchment paper. Place the fillets in the baking dish, season with salt and pepper, and moisten lightly with olive oil. Bake the fish for 7 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets, until just cooked through but still moist. Serve with a spoonful of the parsley butter on top of each fillet.
Make the butter with another herb or combination of herbs (basil, chervil, chives, fennel, tarragon). If you like anchovies, add 3 or 4 chopped salt-packed anchovy fillets to the butter.
Season and oil the fillets and wrap in fig leaves, grape leaves, or fennel branches for added flavor and to keep them moist while baking.
Bake a whole fish at 375°F; it will take longer than fillets. If you like, make several diagonal cuts through the flesh to the bone for faster cooking. Season the fish and stuff the cavity of the fish with fresh herbs. If you have access to large branches of fennel or other herbs, wrap the whole fish in the branches and tie them closed before baking.