This pan seared Chilean sea bass recipe is topped with an herby Italian salsa verde for the perfect bright balance to this delicate flaky texture fish. It's a quick and easy dinner fit for special occasions or busy weeknights alike.
Pan searing is the best way to cook this type of white fish to ensure a perfect texture without overcooking it. Topping Chilean sea bass with a light and citrusy sauce perfectly complements the flavor of the fish.Jump to Recipe
Why this recipe works
This recipe is:
- Quick and easy!
- Sophisticated but simple dish that looks impressive.
- Because sea bass is high fat and mild in taste, it is best served with this light herb salsa.
- Sea bass is great seafood for those who aren’t used to eating fish or more sensitive to heavy fish tasting seafood.
What is Chilean Sea Bass?
Chilean sea bass is a type of white flaky fish with a light flavor and buttery texture. It is also known as Patagonian toothfish, although Chilean sea bass sounds better! It comes from the southern Pacific and Atlantic oceans near the southern end of Chile and Argentina (read more about it here.) It’s a great choice for people who don’t like a strong fishy flavored fish because of its more neutral flavor.
Chilean sea bass
You should be able to find fresh sea bass at your local grocery store or seafood store. Have your butcher remove the bones and filet the fish into as many pieces as you need. I highly suggest you keep the skin on the filets so as to protect the fish while cooking - you can always remove the skin afterwards! Always give fresh fish a sniff test before purchasing! It should not have a strong fishy smell.
Italian Salsa Verde
While the Italian salsa verde is optional, I recommend the pairing as it balances out the buttery, rich fish.
Fresh herbs - To make the salsa, I prefer a combination of three herbs: scallion/green onion, parsley and cilantro. You can substitute for any combination of fresh herbs, using one or multiple, but the bite from the green onion, the light tang of cilantro, and the earthy parsley is my favorite combination.
See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
How to make this recipe
For the herb salsa verde, add all ingredients to a bowl, and stir gently to combine. Set aside for later.
Let the fish come to room temperature for a few minutes. Pat both sides of the sea bass dry with a paper towel.
Season the top of the filet (the non-skin top) with salt and black pepper.
Heat a large skillet to medium heat and add olive oil, or a neutral oil like avocado oil. A non-stick skillet is a good choice for cooking fish. Heat until warm - you can test by dropping a bit of water in the skillet. If the oil sizzles then the pan is hot enough.
Place the sea bass filets skin side down in the hot pan. Sear first side for 4-5 minutes, or until the Chilean sea bass is cooked through about halfway (you can see from the side of the filet).
When cooking fish, the filet will unstick itself from the skillet when ready to flip, so I highly suggest using tongs to gently pull the fish from the skillet to test if the filet is ready to be flipped)
Flip filets skin-side up, and sear for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until reaches an internal temperature of 145ºF. Depending on the thickness of the fish, you may have to cook a little longer.
Serve seared fish filets filets skin-side up on plates (or remove crispy skin at this time), and serve hot with a spoonful of Italian salsa verde on top. Option to also top with lemon slices.
Because Chilean sea bass can be so buttery in taste and high in fat, I highly recommend pairing with lighter sides. Stick to raw, fresh vegetables or greens with light dressings, light simple green beans. Pair it with simple carbs.
Side dish ideas:
- Kale Fennel Dried Fig Salad with Lemon Chive Dressing
- Couscous Salad
- Roasted Potatoes
- Rice pilaf or simple cooked orzo
Skin side down: Keeping the skin on any fish filet helps protect the fish from overcooking. Start cooking the Chilean sea bass with skin side down so as to crisp the skin and protect the fish. Then, cooking the second side of the fish will be much faster. I suggest removing the skin after cooking the fish through, if you prefer to not eat the skin.
When to flip: fish (and other meats) typically release themselves from the pan once ready to flip. I typically use tongs when flipping fish, because the spatula may use too much force and rip the fish’s skin from the pan. (This is especially important when cooking such an expensive fish like Chilean sea bass!) I also like to watch the side of the filet to see when it’s cooked about halfway through.
Storage Directions: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Reheating directions: I don’t recommend reheating fish in the microwave. For best results, reheat in a pan over medium high heat until warmed through.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sea bass is one of the most expensive fish, and for a reason! As an alternative type of fish, I recommend using sablefish, cod, or haddock.
Sea bass is a general term referring to a group of fish, whereas Chilean sea bass refers specifically to Patagonian toothfish.
When pan searing the fish, you can see how far the fish has cooked through by looking at the sides of the fish. Once the fish is just opaque white, it is finished cooking. It also unsticks itself from the pan, meaning you can pick up the filet without it sticking.
If serving with additional sides, allow for one 4-6 ounce filet of Chilean sea bass per person.
More delicious seafood recipes:
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Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass with Herb Salsa Verde
- large nonstick skillet
- tongs (optional, but helpful for flipping fish)
- sharp knife
- cutting board
- 8-10 ounces Chilean Sea Bass bones removed, cut into two filets
- 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ cup cilantro roughly chopped
- ¼ cup parsley roughly chopped
- 3 scallions thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice fresh squeezed
Make the Herb Salsa
Place all herb salsa verde ingredients in a bowl.¼ cup cilantro, ¼ cup parsley, 3 scallions, 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin olive oil, ¼ teaspoon garlic salt, 2 tablespoon lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Stir gently to combine and leave to the side.
Sear the Sea Bass
Pat both sides of the sea bass dry.8-10 ounces Chilean Sea Bass
Season top of filet (non-skin top) with salt and pepper.¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper
Heat a skillet to medium heat and add olive oil. Heat until warm - you can test by dropping a bit of water in the skillet. If the oil sizzles then the pan is hot enough.1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive oil
- Place filets skin side down.
- Sear first side for 4-5 minutes, or until the Chilean sea bass is cooked through about halfway (you can see from the side of the filet). When cooking fish, the filet will unstick itself from the skillet when ready to flip, so I highly suggest using tongs to gently pull the fish from the skillet to test if the filet is ready to be flipped)
- Flip filets skin-side up, and sear for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until reaches an internal temperature of 145ºF.
- Serve seared sea bass filets skin-side up on plates (or remove skin at this time), and serve hot with a spoonful of Italian salsa verde on top.