Photo credit: Chilipepper Rockfish entree, Justin Cogley

Chilipepper Rockfish with Sprouted Lentils, Spinach and Local Flowers

A featured menu item at Aubergine restaurant in Carmel, California, this chilipepper rockfish dish celebrates the bounty of the Central Coast region. Chef Justin Cogley's ingredient-driven fish recipe uses varied textures and flavors, combining a sprouted lentil and spinach/herb purée mixture with the moist, firm white fish.

Justin Cogley
Recipe by: Justin Cogley

Executive chef of Aubergine in Carmel, California.


(Serves 4)

  1. 1 cup sprouted lentils
  2. Extra virgin olive oil
  3. Local flowers/herbs (radish greens, sorrel, beach spinach)

Spinach/Herb Purée

  1. 1 quart spinach (raw)
  2. 4 whole shallots
  3. 3/4 cup grapeseed oil or similar blended oil
  4. 4 tablespoons sliced almonds (untoasted)
  5. 1 tablespoon chives (chopped)
  6. 1 tablespoon cilantro
  7. 4 tablespoons parsley
  8. 1 tablespoon tarragon
  9. 4 tablespoons mustard green
  10. 4 tablespoons chervil
  11. 1 tablespoon mint
  12. 1/2 tablespoon salt

Chilipepper Rockfish

  1. 1 chilipepper rockfish (cut into 4 portions)
  2. Lemon juice
  3. Sea salt
  4. Lime zest


Spinach/Herb Purée

Prepare this the day before you make your dish so that the flavor develops.

  1. Roast shallots in their skins at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Let cool and then scoop out the middle of each.
  2. Place shallots, grapeseed oil and sliced almonds in a blender or food processor. Process ingredients until you get a smooth purée (and make sure it's not too hot).
  3. Add the raw spinach and blend.
  4. Next, add chives, cilantro, parsley, tarragon, mustard green, chervil, mint and salt. Blend for 2 minutes or until herbs are incorporated.
  5. Put purée into a clean deli container (or similar container) and top with olive oil.

Sprouted Lentils

  1. Cook the sprouted lentils for about 10 minutes in salted water or until tender, but do not overcook.
  2. Strain off the water. While still warm, fold in the spinach/herb purée. Check seasoning.

Chilipepper Rockfish

  1. Lightly cook over a well-seasoned grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side on low heat. You want to fully cook the fish while keeping it moist.
  2. Once the fish is cooked to desired doneness, season first with lemon juice and then sea salt. Finish with some lime zest.

To finish and serve:

  1. Place some of the sprouted lentil and spinach/herb purée mixture in the bottom of a small bowl.
  2. Next, place the fish on top of the mixture. Add some olive oil around the fish.
  3. Finish by placing local flowers or herbs on top of the dish.