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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Rockfish with cauliflower puree, veggies

By Paul Suplee,

(Reprint from Aug. 1, 2019) One of the great joys of summer at the beach is sunset over the Assawoman Bay. Granted, it is nothing like a sunset over the Pacific, but there is something alluring about it, nonetheless.

Whether it is the bright orange colors striated throughout the clouds, or that occasional purple hue that floods the skies, it always leaves me calm, even on the busiest of evenings. Even in Pittsville at the restaurant, we get our share of beautiful sunsets, but they pale in comparison to anything that happens over water; it’s just the dolphin in me.

Last weekend, we catered a private event on the bay at a stunning residence, and as busy as we were, it was nice to place a course on the table, step outside and enjoy the sunset. Even if it was just for a few minutes, and knowing that we had a mountain of dishes to wash by hand (certainly not a favorite task of mine), the sunset was a reset. It always has been for me.

I guess sunset and sunrise have always had special places in my soul. Since I was a kid watching them over the Chesapeake Bay or Shenandoah Mountains, they have always meant a sort of reboot, if you will. Sunrises mean a whole new day is here, and sunsets mean that a good day has past… or that a bad day is close to being over if it isn’t already, and tomorrow’s a new day.

There is a lot to be said for looking forward to a new day while basking in the present. That is something that most of us can’t do all of the time. However, when we can, it’s a wonderful feeling.

As a chef, one of the best feelings is when I cook a dish that is in actuality very simple, but knowing that it will please the guest.

It’s satisfying when I cook something that I’m sure about, as most of us cooks kind of hope that some things work.

This dish is a tried and true classic. It is simple, delicious and uses our ubiquitous resources down here, and that is a wonderful thing, all in itself. Pairing this with a Sancerre and a gorgeous sunset is about as glorious a thing as one can imagine.

Seared Rockfish

serves 4

4 pieces fresh rockfish, skin on

Blend of melted butter and olive oil, as needed

Trimix, as needed

1 pint blistered tomatoes (recipe follows)

1 quart cauliflower puree (recipe follows)

1# Roasted asparagus (recipe follows)

1. Pat the filets dry with a paper towel and season with the trimix on skin and flesh.

2. Heat a saute pan with the oil and butter until very hot but not smoking and carefully add the rockfish filets flesh side down. Sear the presentation side first. I have learned over the years that many people prefer either no skin or skin side down, so you can make the call.

3. Cook for about 3 minutes and turn with a spatula to finish the second side. Unless you have an absolute monster rockfish, it should be done at this point. If not, you can throw it in the oven to finish, so as to not scorch the outside.

4. Remove and let rest for a few minutes while you assemble the plates.

5. Place the puree on the bottom, add the roasted asparagus and then add the tomatoes and rockfish.

6. You can drizzle any butter/oil from the pan over the fish as well, finishing it off with a grilled lemon as a garnish.

Blistered Tomatoes

for 1 pint

1 pint heirloom grape tomatoes

1 Tbsp. EV Olive oil

1 Tbsp. Whole, unsalted butter

Trimix, as needed

1. Heat a saute pan with the butter and oil until very hot but barely not smoking.

2. Carefully dump the tomatoes in, spreading evenly and season.

3. Allow to blister for about 45 seconds and then move them around one time.

4. Cook for another 45 seconds and remove to a bowl or plate until ready to use

5. You can store these in the refrigerator and heat them up as you need them

Cauliflower Puree

Makes about 1 1/2 quart

1/1 head cauliflower, core removed

1 1/2 c. chicken stock

1 1/2 c. heavy cream

Trimix, as needed

1. Cut the cauliflower into small pieces, and place in a lidded sauce pan with the chicken stock and cream.

2. Bring to a boil, turn down and simmer, covered, for about 30  minutes, or until the cauliflower is completely tender.

3. Run a stick blender through the pan, or blend the mixture in a Vitamix until smooth.

4. Season to taste and set aside until ready to serve.

Roasted Asparagus

for 4 peoople

1# Fresh asparagus

2 Tbsp. EV Olive oil

Trimix, as needed

1. If the asparagus is thicker than one of those large, grade-school pencils, carefully peel the outside to get rid of some of the fibrous skin.

2. Toss in the olive oil, season and roast in a 400F oven for about 5-8 minutes, depending on the oven, turning every couple minutes.

3. Remove once the asparagus is softened but still has a bite to it.


2 parts kosher salt

1 part ground black pepper

1 part granulated garlic

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl until as uniform as possible. Be ready to sneeze.

—Paul Suplee is a Professor of Culinary Arts
at Wor-Wic Community College and
owner of boxcar40.
Visit him at