Delicious pan-seared Chilean sea bass served in lemon butter sauce. This easy seafood recipe is a great way to use these fresh fish fillets and can be put together in just ten minutes.
Chilean sea bass, also known as Patagonian or Antarctic toothfish, is a deep saltwater type of fish often found around the Antarctica region. It’s a rare and much sought-after fish, with a price tag to match in restaurants. It is a white, flaky fish that tastes like cod, leaning towards buttery and a smooth texture.
Despite the name, there are marked differences between regular sea bass and Chilean sea bass. In fact, the latter is no bass at all. It is a Patagonian toothfish, a type of cod icefish. On the other hand, sea bass is a general term given to different fish from different families. It is found in the Western Atlantic and comes in various forms to eat steamed or roasted.
Choosing Your Fish
Like with all fish, fresh fillets always work the best. However, if all you have is frozen sea bass, you will need to ensure that it is thawed outright. The issue with thawing it out is that you will need a little extra time to prepare the dish, and if you hurry, then it might not work out well for you. So, first, take your time to think about which fish you want to use.
One of the ways to tell if the fish is fresh is to look at its eyes. The eyes should be clear, and the fish shouldn’t have a “fishy smell”—that is undesirable. The flesh shouldn’t have any type of discoloration either.
If you’re not in the mood for Chilean sea bass or perhaps you can’t find it, then you can use Alaskan sablefish. It also goes by the name black cod. The two have a similar taste. You may not notice the difference once you serve the fish. The most significant advantage is that sablefish aren’t as scarce as Chilean sea bass. Moreover, it is available year-round and much more affordable. You can also use halibut, snapper, trout, pollock, and grouper.
Expert Cooking Tips
How do you know when Chilean sea bass is done?
Use a small sharp knife to poke the fish slightly. It shouldn’t flake when you poke at it. Flakiness means the fish has already lost a lot of moisture and, as such, does not have the same texture as properly cooked fish. Remember that fish will continue to cook even after you have taken it off the heat. As such, you will need to remove it from the heat when it is just about to be done.
How to get crispy skin
To get crispy skin, pat the fish dry to make sure that there is no extra marinade. Then, score the skin and fry the fish—skin side down first.
Why you shouldn’t marinate the fish for more than 20 minutes
Marinating the fish for too long will leave the fish over-saturated and may disintegrate the fish, causing it to go mushy. The rule of thumb is that the more delicate the meat, the less time it needs to marinate. Marinating for longer than 20 minutes will give the acid time to start cooking the fish.
Leftovers & Reheating
Reheating fish is best done in a low-heated oven. The fish is wrapped loosely in tin foil for moisture retention. First, allow the fish to cool down entirely and then store it. Then, put it in an airtight container or bag before putting it in the fridge. It should be good for about a day, at which time you can reheat and serve. You can also add some water when you reheat if the fish seems dry.
Pan-Fried Chilean Sea Bass
- 4 Chilean sea bass fillets
- fresh rosemary
- kosher salt to taste
- fresh black pepper to taste
- 1 ½ tbsp soy sauce
- 1 ½ tbsp mirin
- 4 tsp sugar
- 1 inch fresh ginger minced
- 1 ½ tsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 ½ tbsp cooking oil
- 1 pinch salt
Lemon Butter Sauce
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 lemon juice of
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- Pat dry each sea bass fillet with paper towels. Use a knife to score the skin of each fillet.
- In a small bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients.
- One fillet at a time, dunk the sea bass in the marinade and massage gently, and transfer to an airtight bag. Use more than one bag if you need to.
- Pour any remaining marinade over the fish fillets, seal the bag. Leave to marinate for 15 minutes.
- Prepare the sauce by melting butter in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the lemon juice and minced garlic. Whisk to combine. Leave over low heat while you cook the fish.
- Remove fish from the marinade and pat dry
- In a skillet or frying pan over medium heat, heat up cooking oil.
- Fry the sea bass skin-side down. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the skin turns crispy.
- Turn fillets over and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until flesh is white and flakey.
- Serve immediately skin-side up with lemon wedges and side salad or herbs
Do you wash sea bass before cooking?
No, you will not need to wash sea bass before cooking it. In most cases, the fish brought from the butcher will already be clean. Cleaning fish often refers to its guts being removed rather than washing its outer body.
Should you take the skin off Chilean sea bass?
No, you should not. You need the skin to make a crispy crust.