Creamy Garlic Roughy with Pancetta Broccoli Rabe

Creamy Garlic Roughy with Pancetta Broccoli Rabe

What’s not to love about this recipe? Seared crisp Orange Roughy (one). Pancetta studded broccoli rabe (that’s two). And a creamy, citrusy, garlicky, spoon licking good sauce (that’s three).

What is Orange Roughy?

(aka. Red Roughy or Deep Sea Perch) 

This deep sea beaut is a restaurant menu favorite, chefs can not get enough roughy! But, in the past couple of years, roughy is on the rise with home cooks…soon to dethrone salmon and tilapia as a global kitchen favorite. 

Let us go a little deeper (lol, deep sea pun) on what makes Orange Roughy such a great go-to fin fish. 

Yep, you might’ve guessed (we’ve dropped a few hints already). Orange Roughy is one of those deep sea gems. Swimming in some of the deepest fathoms (almost 2000 feet below the surface) of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It’s this slower, colder life that make this fish so uniquely flavorful. 

Orange Roughy is lean, delicate and flaky but just firm enough to withstand some high heat cooking methods. Making it a great candidate for saucing and searing. 

About the recipe…

This recipe is all about simplicity. Minimal ingredients where their function is to flavor and highlight one another. Even with the minimalist approach, all tastebuds are activated! 

The blanched broccoli rabe brings bright and bitter (still enjoyable) notes. The Orange Roughy adds this pleasantly mellow protein notion to the dish. Pancetta gives us our salty and unctuous qualities. And, lastly, our creamy garlic sauce imparts these pungent peaks and little pops of palate cleansing acidity. Perfection in every bite. 

Sear Confidence

There is nothing quite like seared fish fillets, whether you’re cooking Orange Roughy or another fin fish, with skin or without. Crispy, golden brown outside and perfectly cooked inside…it’s just delicious! There are some rules to accomplishing the perfect sear and here is the ‘condensed’ ultimate searing guide: 

Remove your thawed fish fillets from the refrigerator, about 20 minutes before you plan to cook. Colder temperatures tend to lock in excess moisture, letting the fish rest at room temperature will release this excess. Moisture is our enemy when it comes to searing. A ‘wet’ fish fillet will steam when adding it to a hot pan, and not sear. To get the desired outcome the outside needs to be as dry as possible.

Once your fish has rested pat that baby dry! Apply slight pressure when patting the fillets with a paper towel.  

We’re going to prep our pan by preheating and seasoning. First, get that pan pipping hot~high heat and smoking. Drizzle in 1 tablespoon of your high heat worthy oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Heat for 2 minutes, and once the oil is smoking, remove the pan from the heat and carefully wipe clean.

Return the pan to the heat and drizzle in another (1) tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, and you’ll be able to tell this when the oil is shimmering. Carefully lay your fish in the pan. Try to lay the fish in the pan going away from you, to keep any oil from splattering.

Using a fish spatula, apply some pressure to the fillet to hold it in place. Fillets tend to arc, resulting in an uneven sear. A light pressure to support the sear, maybe 30 seconds to 1 minutes, and the fillet will relax and rest flat into the pan. 

Cook the fillet until the flesh is opaque and nearly cooked through. You’ll see just a little spot, in the middle, where the fish is still underdone. Depending on the thickness of your fish, this can be anywhere from 1-3 minutes. 

Flip, using your fish spatula, and cook the fillet for 1 minute on the other side. 

When you go to flip and the fish sticks, hold tight. That’s the fillets way of telling you it still needs some time to sear. Once crispy the fillet will flip easily.

Creamy Garlic Roughy with Pancetta Broccoli Rabe 

Difficulty: Moderate  Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2


Garlic Lemon Sauce 

  • 1/4 cup fresh garlic, peeled 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice 
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 oz. pancetta, sliced and chopped 
  • 2 6oz Orange Roughy Fillets 
  • salt and pepper 
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe
  • lemon slices or wedges


Combine garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, zest and salt in a food processor. Blend until smooth.

Remove garlic mixture and place in a medium pan over medium heat. Sauté for 1-2 minutes or until garlic is fragrant and whisk in cream. Bring to a light simmer and keep warm until ready to serve.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook the pancetta slices and chopped pancetta for 2 minutes or until crispy. Using a slotted spoon remove the pancetta from the pan and let drain on a paper towel.

Pat roughy fillets dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Carefully place fillets in the pan and sear in the remaining pancetta grease (you may need to add a little oil if there is not a lot of drippings left over from the pancetta).

Sear roughy for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Remove from the pan and let rest on paper towels. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Blanch broccoli rabe for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Remove from the pan and let drain before plating.

To serve, spoon sauce on to plates and top with rabe and roughy. Sprinkle with pancetta and garnish with lemon. Serve with any remaining sauce for drizzling or dipping.

Prep Ahead Notes: 

Much of this recipe can be prepped ahead of time for an even easier run at dinner time.

  • The garlic cream can be made 3-4 days ahead of time. 
  • You can blanch and shock the broccoli rabe (steam it then cool it rapidly in icy cold water to stop the cooking process). When you’re ready to make the dish just reheat, either steam or microwave. 

Recreate this Orange Roughy Recipe.

Mazzetta is proud to be the world’s finest frozen seafood provider. Our family’s mission is to provide our customers with premium quality, sustainable seafood. 

Our Orange Roughy  is available for the retailer, restaurant chef or home cook. For wholesale, please click here for more information. For our friends cooking at home, please click here for information on our grocery packs.