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.
This post contains affiliate links from which I would earn a small percentage from your purchase
Old Recipe Photos from 2015:
Amee Livingston says
This looks amazing! Pinned!
Thanks so much! My new favorite fish recipe by far!
Adele McLaughlin says
Both yesterday and still today when I try to access a recipe from your latest email I am unable to retrieve the proper recipe. I am trying to read the recipe for your vegan asian noodles and the sea bass page comes up every time.
Otherwise I am delighted with these recipes.
Apologize for the website errors Adele. Sometimes the site acts up and I need to have the host fix things so hopefully you are no longer experiencing this problem!
Chilean sea bass is one of the most delicate fishes in the world and while I like Asian treatments of seafood in general this one masks the beauty of this fish and given the price it’s not worth it. Let the fish speak for itself. Keep it simple.
Guess everyone has their own favorite way to eat Chilean sea bass. I personally am not a huge fan of Chilean sea bass but when prepared this way (which I do not find to be complex – the fish gets a nice sear and is simply dressed up with a Vietnamese inspires sauce, while being seared atop a bed of spinach) I love it!
This was fantastic! Based off some comments I went very light on the sauce, but then everyone added more because it was delicious. It was my first time making it and everyone loved it. Great recipe!
So glad you enjoyed this recipe Jillian! Thanks for taking the time to comment and let me know : )) Definitely one of my favorite fish recipes on my blog!
Catherine Brinks says
Second time we made this! You made me love ALL Fish! Thanks for the lovely recipe!
So glad to hear that Catherine! Thanks for taking the time to comment and let me know : )) Makes me happy to hear that you now love all fish – exactly what I was going for : )
Laura Garnette says
This recipe rocked! I made if for my wife and three teenagers. I added little bitty mushrooms to the spinach. I left the sauce on the side and one of the teenagers loved it – the other two loved it plain. My wife and I loved the sauce and I didn’t think it masked the purity of the fish – the sauce was very light. What a keeper!!! Thank you.
So glad you and your family enjoyed this recipe!!! Great idea to add mushrooms to the spinach — will have to try that myself next time!
Can I substitute the chili sauce for sriracha?
You can use Sriracha instead, but don’t add as much, as I think Sriracha is spicier, so just start with 1-2 teaspoons and then add more as needed.
I see from the picture you added green onion. Did you do this as a garnish in your last step? Thanks!
Yes I just sprinkled it on as a garnish. It is entirely optional
Terry Day says
I can’t get Chilean Sea Bass in my small, rural town. Can I substitute another fish?
Alaskan sablefish also known a black cod should work well too! If you can’t find that try using regular cod (flavor won’t quite be the same but it should still be delicious with the sauce and spinach)! Hope that helps : )
Absolutely fantastic! My entire family loved it! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
So glad to hear that Carolyn!!
Brenda Allen says
Have made this a number of times. Costco has frozen portions of CSB so it’s easy to buy and fix when the mood hits me. It has been a huge hit each time I fix it. Hubby loves bonefish’ s CSB with their pan Asian sauce. This sauce isn’t that, but it’s in that league, so he loves it! Earring ketone ic, so can’t think of a better dinner. Thanks!
So glad to hear you enjoyed this recipe Brenda — it’s also one of my favorites!
Love, love, love this recipe! Made it at least 10 times in the last two months for guests and everyone loved it. My husband refused to eat fish for the last 17 years and this recipe turned him around! Now we have fish at least once a week. Thank you so much. Your website rocks!
So so happy to hear your enjoyed this recipe Renata! This is literally the only way I make Chilean sea bass! I am so touched that this recipe got to get your husband to eat fish after not eating it for 17 years!!!
Melissa D says
This turned out great! I love the baseline of this recipe…I drizzled the sauce over the fish and detoured with the spinach just a tad. I sautéed onions and mushrooms and then deglazed the pan with chardonnay after cooking the fish to sweat the spinach for a different flavor. I felt the sauce recipe only complemented the fish, not detract from its natural goodness. I’m not a huge fishy fish fan, so this helped me to enjoy the natural butteriness of the fish while enjoying the enhancement of the flavors. Spot on and thanks for sharing!
So happy to hear you enjoyed my recipe Melissa!! Love your take on the veggies!
Hi there! Any recommendations for substitutes for the thai chili garlic sauce? Would just garlic work?
The chili garlic sauce adds a bit of spiciness to the sauce as well so if you have something like Sriracha you could add that instead with a bit of minced garlic and some red pepper flakes, though if you can get yours hands on the chili garlic sauce I highly recommend it – it’s has an amazing spicy kick that is perfect for so many different dishes!
This looks delicious!
Made this tonite and it was simply delicious! Paired it with Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier 2016 wine, perfect! Thank you for sharing your recipe.
So happy you enjoyed this recipe Nicolette – it’s one of my favorite! And the Vietnamese vinegar garlic sauce I use on everything!
Just wanted to leave feedback that I’ve made this several times now (with both Sea Bass and Cod) and even my toddler and fish-hating-husband really really enjoy it. Great recipe – thanks!
So happy to hear that Kate! Thanks for taking the time to comment and let me know! This is one of my favorite fish recipes, and I’m happy to hear your family loves it too!
I need an idea for a side dish please…….easy! Thank you!
This makes for the perfect side dish – sauteed baby bok choy: https://avocadopesto.com/sauteed-baby-bok-choy-with-sesame-oil/
Or you can make the sauteed spinach as is shown in this recipe.
For a more elaborate side dish this would be great too: https://avocadopesto.com/bok-choy-tofu-mushroom-stir-fry/
or sauteed mushrooms : https://avocadopesto.com/vegan-mushroom-stir-fry-gluten-free/
Hope that helps!
John Merrell says
The sauce was too thin for my taste. And it was also a bit too sour. So, I added some brown sugar and then reduced it before pouring over the Chilean Sea Bass. Loved it!
Great idea! Glad you made it work for your dish!
Anthony Macchia says
I love chilean sea bass and have been working in the hospitality business for over 10 years in the kitchen. I will probably end up using this for something i have coming up(interview/cooking practial) I was wondering if you can think of any sides to go along with the spinach? I have a few idea but would love to get your take on it.
wonderful recipe though
Thanks! Glad you enjoy my recipe! Apologies for the delayed response to your comment – Some other sides – sauteed shiitake mushrooms and broccoli with ginger & garlic, sauteed bok choy with ginger and garlic, cauliflower rice or regular rice, etc.
I made this Sea Bass last week and it was amazing!! Actually, gonna make it again tonight. It reminds me of a great sizzling sea bass dish from a restaurant in SF call Okazu Ya….they include bean sprouts, sweet onion and a some sweat peas to the dish….so when my fish was done, i added some sliced sweet onion, then the spinach on top, then some bean sprouts in the pan…threw some of the sauce on top and sauteed them all together. Right before i took if off the heat, I added like a 1/8 c of sweet peas to the pan just to warm them up.
My 15 yr old son was dubious about my dinner plans, but after he took one bite he said, “Holy sh*t!!” He LOVED it!!!
So thank you for this awesome recipe!
Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed my recipe!! : ))) Thanks for taking the time to comment and share your thoughts! Love you additions to the recipe!
Loved this recipe so much. For the love of fish that tasted heavenly. I followed the recipe to the t! I made it for my sister. She adored it. Now I can’t wait to make it for my husband. Of course he’ll want rice with it but that’s ok!
Thank you so much ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️
So happy to hear you enjoyed my recipe! Hope your husband enjoys it too!
Greetings, In your recipe’s list of ingredients, you have rice vinegar, but the picture shows “seasoned” rice vinegar, which is different as I’m sure you know. Which one do you use?
I have used both in this recipe and it works well with either so feel free to use whichever you have on hand.
Karen Williams says
This recipe is really, really good! I served this to two of my boys (22 & 17) and my husband. They really enjoyed it. Actually,.. a couple of bites in my 22 year old said “mom, this is really good!” I made sushi rice that they put under the spinach and fish. I also had a side of green beans and some asian black beans (Weight Watchers friendly and I skipped the rice..) As far as this exact recipe goes: I did cook the sauce to reduce a little based on comments. It is a tiny bit salty (I think you could reduce the fish sauce just a tad.) The spinach is perfect! I will definitely be making this again!!
Thanks so much! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe. Great idea to serve this over sushi rice. I will add a note to reduce the fish sauce a bit – I have a very high salt tolerance, so for those less into salty food, less fish sauce would probably be better!
We were fortunate to find this gem at our local Costco. It is our first time eating sea bass and this has quickly risen to the top of our FAV list. We have access to other great fish here in HI, but this was exceptional.
Though our finished dish did not look as beautiful as yours, it was excellent! I don’t know why the fish was stuck to the pan (I followed instructions)..maybe it’s time to get a new cast iron skillet.
Reduced the fish sauce, but went with the rest and the sauce, too, was so delicious! Thank you for sharing your recipe, Aloha, Gail
Thanks for taking the time so comment! So happy to hear you enjoyed my recipe :))
Excellent recipe! My family LOVED it! I added honey to the sauce because I thought it was a bit sour and my husband is a little picky but it came out perfect and I think it goes great on this fish! Be prepared for your kitchen to smell “fishy”, I thought it was funny that the smell was strong but when you taste the fish, it melts in your mouth and does not taste at all “fishy”! Thank you for sharing a great recipe!
Thanks for the kind words! So happy to hear you enjoyed my recipe!
Sooo good!! Have made a couple of times now & it’s my favorite recipe for seafood!! Thank you!
So happy to hear that!
I am happy to see all the positive comments as I was unsure of this recipe. .
I marinated the fish with salt, pepper and lime / fish sauce yesterday. I also made the sauce ahead. I doubled the quantity of sauce because the fish was more. I did not double the ginger since my husband does not like too strong a ginger taste. The sauce is very watery and when I taste it, I cant seem to get a handle on the taste. The sesame oil seems to overtake the other flavors. Do you have any suggestions or will it lift up after I cook it? I added a bit of brown sugar. I was thinking gf reducing the sauce or marinating the fish in the sauce to enhance the flavors. Would love some feedback.. Also I saw agave in your instructions but not in the list of ingredients. What can I use instead of agave? Thank you so much
You can cook the sauce for a few minutes to reduce it and thicken it up. It is definitely a thin sauce that I just like to top the fish and spinach with. It is not a thick glaze but reducing it should thicken it. Instead of agave you can use honey, maple syrup or brown sugar. I have not found the sesame oil to overpower the other ingredients but if you find that to be the case just add more of the other ingredients to adjust to your taste preferences.
Thank you so much for your prompt response. I did exactly that – reduced the sauce a bit and also let the fish marinate in the sauce. Added a bit of Hoisen and that removed the strong sesame flavor – which I do like as a flavor itself…
Hubby loved it. I tried baking 2 pieces and frying 2 pieces, as I was nervous to fry them. (I usually bake it). frying turned out more flavorful. Did brussel sprouts with maple and smoked paprika in the air fryer and jasmine rice. Also marinate tofu cooked on cast iron. Was a delicious meal. Thank you again for taking the time to write back. This recipe is a keeper!