Grocery Guides

Rockfish – All You Need to Know | Instacart’s Guide to Groceries



Last Updated: Feb 4, 2022

What is rockfish? 

The term “rockfish” actually refers to over 70 different varieties of fish—all of which have broad mouths, large eyes, and venomous spines along their fins and backs. These fish get their name from their habit of hiding among the rocks, looking for both food and safety. They can range from 2 to 40lbs and can live from 20 to 200 years. 

Some of the most common types of rockfish include: 

  • Black rockfish
  • Yelloweye rockfish
  • Redbanded rockfish
  • China rockfish
  • Yellowtail rockfish
  • Vermillion rockfish 
  • Copper rockfish
  • Rougheye rockfish
  • Yelloweye rockfish
  • Black and yellow rockfish
  • Canary rockfish
  • Chilipepper rockfish

Other names for rockfish include rock cod or Pacific snapper. While each type of rockfish is different, they all have white flesh that is lean and firm with a mild flavor and a flaky texture. 

Where are rockfish found?

Rockfish are found in the Pacific Ocean anywhere from Japan to the coast of California and are common in the northwest United States. Some live in depths of 300ft or more while others tend to spend their time in fairly shallow water. 

Fishermen often catch rockfish by mistake while trolling for other types of sea creatures. When these accidental catches come on board, they’re usually processed into filets and sold to the public.  

When is rockfish in season?

Rockfish is not a farmed fish, so you’ll only find it wild-caught. Most species are regulated by fishing authorities, with some being more regulated than others. 

Since there are many different ways for fishermen to catch rockfish, they’re typically available all year round. However, since they’re usually a by-catch of other fishing, their availability can be inconsistent. You can find rockfish fillets in the seafood section of your grocery store all year long. While it’s often in stock, this is never guaranteed.

What should I look for when buying rockfish? 

When shopping for rockfish, there are a few things you need to consider. This includes the cut of the fish, whether you want it fresh or frozen, and the species of rockfish you’re looking for. Deciding on the cut you need will typically depend on what you plan to do it. 

Many recipes will call for rockfish filets, which is the most common form you’ll find in the grocery store. However, some recipes may call for a whole rockfish instead. If you’re planning to grill your rockfish, you may want to choose skin-on rockfish filets. This will help it hold together on the grill, give it some extra flavor, and give you an additional helping of omega-3 fatty acids. 

The next step to choosing rockfish at the grocery store is to decide between fresh and frozen. If you’re able to get your hands on fresh-caught rockfish, this is a great option. However, if it’s not available, you can almost always get frozen rockfish at the grocery store. This is a simple option that is still tasty and will allow you to enjoy rockfish whenever you want. 

Finally, since there are so many different species of rockfish, you may want to keep trying different varieties until you find your favorites. It’s also important to indicate what type of rockfish you’re looking for, particularly if you’re having someone else do your shopping for you. 

If you are looking to have your groceries delivered, you can easily shop for rockfish via Instacart. After adding a product to your cart, use the “Instructions” option to notify your Instacart shopper about any preferences or specific directions on how to choose the best products. Shop for rockfish

How to store rockfish

As with all types of fish, rockfish needs to be stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook it. On average, this fish will stay good for about 5 to 7 days if it’s wrapped well and kept refrigerated. However, it’s best if you can cook it within 1 to 2 days after you bring it home. To keep it as fresh as possible, it’s a good idea to store your fish on top of ice inside the refrigerator. You also won’t want to freeze this fish, as the quality of the flesh will quickly start to decline. 

How to tell if rockfish is bad 

As with most species of fish, if a rockfish has gone bad, you will often notice a strong “fishy” odor and a thick, slimy coating on the flesh. While rockfish will have a slightly fishy smell when it’s fresh, it will become noticeably strong after it has passed its prime. 

A fresh rockfish fillet should glisten as if it just came out of the water and should smell like the ocean. If you notice it looks, feels, or smells off, it’s probably safest to throw it away. 

What can I substitute for rockfish?

Since there are so many different types of rockfish, it’s easy to substitute one variety for another. However, if you’re not able to find any rockfish at all, then cod, red snapper, or porgy are all good substitutes. As long as the fish you choose is flaky and has a mild flavor, it should do fine in any recipe that calls for rockfish. 

Add rockfish to your next meal plan

Now that you know all about rockfish, you’re probably excited to give it a try. With Instacart’s grocery delivery, it’s easy to experiment with new foods. Simply find a recipe that appeals to you, then head over to and add everything you need to your shopping list. A professional shopper will gather up your groceries and either prepare them for you to pick up or deliver them right to your door. Try it today! 



Instacart is the leading grocery technology company in North America, partnering with more than 1,400 national, regional, and local retail banners to deliver from more than 80,000 stores across more than 14,000 cities in North America. To read more Instacart posts, you can browse the company blog or search by keyword using the search bar at the top of the page.

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