Maryland’s Eastern Shore Rockfish Crab Imperial

Chesapeake Chef

Ingredients (serves 4) 

4 filets wild striped bass, roughly 5 oz each

  • Salt
  • Crab imperial stuffing
  • 1 lb jumbo lump Maryland crabmeat
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp Old Bay
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp milk, whole
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Empty the crab meat into a bowl and clean of any shells.
  3. In a small bowl, whip the egg yolk and Old Bay together until doubled in volume. 
  4. Fold mayonnaise, Dijon, and Worcestershire into the yolk/Old Bay paste thoroughly. Reserve 25% of mixture for final glaze.
  5. Add milk, lemon, and parsley to the reserved 25% of base sauce. This is the final glaze of the imperial. 
  6. Add the 75% sauce base portion into the crab. Season with a pinch of salt. Lightly fold the ingredients together, making sure to not break the crab lumps.
  7. Season each filet with salt before stuffing. For an added step of quality, lightly rinse each filet in cold, salted water, then pat dry before seasoning. 
  8. If the filet is thin and long, split the filet down the center, keeping the ends intact. Lay the filets on a lightly buttered sheet pan. Create an oval-shaped hole with each filet and stuff the imperial base in the oval. If the filet is short and fat, spread the imperial base across the top evenly. 
  9. Divide the imperial stuffing equally across each fish filet. Evenly coat each stuffed rockfish filet with the imperial sauce. This step can be done hours or even 1 day in advance, and refrigerated until ready to cook. 
  10. Bake in a 350-degree preheated oven. The center of the fish filet and crab imperial stuffing should be hot in the center when finished cooking. Average cooking time will be 10-14 minutes. The best way to check the internal temperature is by inserting a thin paring knife in the center and feeling the heat of the center on the back of your hand. If using a thermometer, 140 degrees is a suitable temperature for cooked imperial stuffing and medium cooked fish. The glaze should be lightly browned and slightly puffed. 
  11. With a spatula, place the Rockfish Imperial on your serving platter. Add a fresh spritz of lemon, pinch of sea salt, and serve with beautiful local vegetables. Enjoy!

Tickler’s Crab Shack & Restaurant

Tickler’s Crab Shack at Wylder Hotel on Tilghman Island. 
Photo: Bill Whaley

Jordan Lloyd grew up fishing and crabbing on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and this dish combines two Bay delicacies: blue crab and rockfish. It can be found on the menu of Tickler’s Crab Shack and Restaurant at the boutique Wylder Hotel on Tilghman Island, where Lloyd is the executive chef.

“Across the region, it’s a versatile dish,” Lloyd says, “with variation from comfort home-style techniques to more dressed-up versions at restaurants. It’s a dish that truly pays homage to, and is a result of, the Chesapeake Bay’s deep-rooted crabbing background.”