Seared fillet of Chilean sea bass on top of wilted sesame spinach, drizzled with a spicy, sour sweet Vietnamese inspired sauce. Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Paleo. The only way I ever make this fish! A recipe bound to impress all your dinner guests!
Chilean Sea Bass recipes are the best. Especially this one. Quite simply the most sophisticated fish dinner you could make, that happens to also be ready in 30 minutes. I mean I literally never make Chilean sea bass any other way any more.
If you happen to live near a wholesale seafood market, Chilean sea bass is the fish to stock up on there. My dad and I used to go on serious splurge shopping sprees to the wholesale seafood market in Boston where we would go wild and spend upwards of $700 on oysters, salmon, sardines, branzini, Chilean sea bass, smoked salmon, calamari steaks, etc.
Now that’s my kind of shopping spree.
After these trips I’ve got everything I need to whip up a serious seafood fueled extravaganza. Think, Spicy Paprika & Garlic Gluten Free Shrimp recipe, Asian shrimp appetizer cucumber rolls with wasabi aioli, Southwest salmon salad with avocado dressing, sesame crusted seared tuna with the best ever ahi tuna sauce, Asian noodle bowls with sesame fish and Caribbean fish curry.
Seafood for days.
So the first time that we came back from this trip with the Chilean sea bass, I quickly got to work brainstorming recipe ideas. I instantly had 20 recipe tabs open on my laptop, but for one reason or another none of them really clicked. I decided to go my own path and quickly make up my own Chilean sea bass recipe. I love the Vietnamese sauce that I always serve with my summer rolls so I knew that would be the right sauce for this fish too.
I thought about preparing the Chilean sea bass in the oven, under the broiler, but decided I could get a nice sear on it instead. The key is to heat up the pan with the oil until almost smoking, and then add the fish. Do not touch the fish until it’s ready to be flipped over. That’s the key to that super crispy outer layer. Quite simply my favorite part of the whole fish.
For some veggies I threw in a handful of spinach to cook with a bit of sesame oil and any remaining bits of the fish.
When served all together this pan seared Chilean sea bass recipe or should I say masterpiece, was an instant hit.
With this seared Chilean sea bass recipe, each side of the sea bass has a nice crispy char to it and the ever so slightly wilted spinach creates a perfect base.
The sauce is my lightly adapted summer roll salad sauce to make it a tad less sweet and a whole lot more spicy.
The flavors all complemented each other beautifully. This has quickly become my favorite fish recipe.
This dish comes together in just 30 minutes and is simply made to impress. The slightly salty, sweet, spicy sour sauce blends with the charred and light fish atop a smooth and soft bed of sesame spinach. Don’t be turned off by the long ingredient list — this recipe is worth it!
What is Chilean Sea Bass?
Chilean sea bass is a white fish that is also called the Patagonian toothfish. It is found in cold deep waters of the Southern hemisphere.
How much is Chilean Sea Bass per pound?
Unfortunately this is quite a pricey fish. If you have a wholesale seafood market near you try to buy it there, where you may be able to find it for $15 a pound. Otherwise, look for it on sale at seafood markets or grocery stores like Whole Foods where I have seen it sold for $20 a pound. Reguarly priced Chilean sea bass can set you back $26-$30 a pound, so it’s more of a special occasion fish than your daily meal.
What does Chilean Sea Bass taste like?
This is a firm white fish with a meaty texture. It is quite fatty and almost buttery. It is hard to compare to any other fish because of that distinct butteryness. Kind of like the Chardonnay of fish, if you will.
How do you cook Chilean sea bass?
I find the best way to cook this fish is in a very hot oiled cast iron skillet. You’ll want to get a solid sear on each side of the fish which is easily achieved in hot cast iron skillet. While you could bake or even broil this fish too, I find pan frying to be the best method that brings out all the full flavor while lightly caramelizing the crisping up the surface of the fish.
Why this seared Chilean Sea Bass recipe is the best:
- Ready in under 30 minutes
- Sauce can be made days ahead of time
- Made to impress
- Simple recipe with a variety of strong flavors that pair perfectly with the buttery fatty fish
- The best sweet, spicy, sour, salt flavors all in one recipe
- High protein, low carb healthy recipe
How to make my Seared Chilean sea bass recipe
To make the sauce you just need to grate the ginger, juice and limes and mix all the ingredients together. You can make this days ahead of time, or just before you make the fish. If you’re an expert level kitchen multi tasker you can even make the sauce while the fish is cooking, but for some this creates a stressful cooking environment so the order of things is up to you.
The fish most importantly needs to be completely defrosted and patted dry. You cannot get a nice sear if it is still slightly frozen.
For a quick marinate I’ll drizzle the fish with lemon juice and fish sauce – this is optional though. If you just want to cook the fish directly, you can, the sauce is plenty flavorful.
Make sure to preheat (preferably) a cast iron skillet until almost smoking, over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium high and add oil – avocado or olive. Once that is hot add the Chilean sea bass fillets. Let them cook without touching them for 4-6 minutes.
Flip them over and continue to cook for another 4-6 minutes. You’ll be able to tell that the fish is cooked if you use your fork to grab a piece of the fish from the thickest part and it pulls off easily. Undercooked fish resists flaking so you won’t be able to pull out that piece if it still needs more time.
Remove the fish from the cast iron skillet and add in some sesame oil and the spinach. Spinach cooks down like crazy so don’t worry if you feel like you’re adding a ton to the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the spinach is just starting to cook down and remove from heat.
To plate this dish, divide the spinach among the serving plates, top with pieces of fish, drizzle with sauce, and sprinkling with sesame seeds for a final finishing touch.
- Make sure the fish is completely defrosted and patted dry. If the fish is ever so slightly frozen you will not get a nice sear on it
- Once you add the fish to the pan do not touch it, until it is ready to be flipped over. This will allow you to get a nice sear on the fish.
- Preheat a cast iron skillet until almost smoking, and only then add the oil, and then the fish. You should hear the sizzling sounds once the fish hits the pan
- Prepare the sauce recipe in advance to make this dish in less time
- Cook the spinach for only 1-2 minutes so it’s just slightly wilted and not overcooked
- Instead of Chilean Sea Bass this sauce and the spinach would also pair well with any other white fish – mahi mahi, cod, etc.
- Instead of spinach you can use kale, bok choy, etc.
Please let me know what you think of my recipe in the comments below. This is truly one of my favorite fish recipes and I hope you love it as much as I do.
- 1 pound Chilean sea bass fillet cut into four 3/4 inch thick pieces
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- splash of lemon juice
- salt/pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoons avocado oil
- for the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons thai chili garlic sauce sambal olek (or Paleo Chef Sriracha)
- for the spinach:
- 10 ounces spinach
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1-2 teaspoons sesame seeds
Wash and pat dry sea bass fillets. Drizzle with fish sauce, lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste on both sides (optional)
Heat cast iron skillet over high heat until almost smoking. Reduce heat to medium high and add 1 teaspoon avocado oil. When hot add sea bass fillets, in a single layer. Cook for 4-6 minutes per side (without touching them) until browned and cooked through.
In a small bowl whisk together the sauce ingredients - lime juice, minced ginger, fish sauce, rice vinegar, agave, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, olive oil and sambal olek. Whisk until smooth.
Remove cooked fish and set aside. In the same pan cook the spinach in 1 teaspoon sesame oil until just wilted -- about 1 minute.
To plate, first divide spinach onto four plates, sprinkle with sesame seeds, top with sea bass, and drizzle with sauce.
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Old Recipe Photos from 2015: