Chilean sea bass with lemon, dill & caper sauce
How to Cook Chilean Sea Bass
Preheat your oven to 450ºF and then heat some grapeseed oil in an oven proof skillet on a high heat. Dry the Sea Bass thoroughly and season with salt and pepper. Sear the fillets for about 3 minutes on each side, turning once, until you get a crispy golden crust on each side. Transfer the pan to the hot oven, roasting the Sea Bass for about 5 minutes until it is just cooked through. Plate the fish, drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with fresh dill.
Sear on the stove & finish in the oven
Ever have perfect Chilean sea bass in a restaurant, with a crispy crust and buttery smooth insides? Maybe a light sauce draping the filet? You would be amazed that this fish is one of the easiest ways to cook fish at home. It is essentially prepared the same way I make my Bacon-wrapped filet mignon or my Rack of lamb. You sear it in a hot pan on the stove and finish it in the oven. It all comes together, including the sauce, in under half an hour. This recipe is a modified version of a recipe published by Straubs grocery store.
Once you have the pan-searing, oven-finishing technique down for cooking thick-cut fish, you can experiment with different fish and a variety of sauces. Try using this technique for preparing halibut. Make a white wine, mushrooms, butter and parsley sauce. Or top the fish with my Tropical fruit salsa.
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I like to serve this Chilean sea bass with my Green bean and dill risotto.
What you need to know about Chilean sea bass
Known as the filet mignon of fish, Chilean sea bass is a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth fish. Chilean sea bass is actually not a member of the bass family. It is actually a Patagonian toothfish. It is a slow-growing fish that lives about 40 years.
Is Chilean sea bass sustainable?
Because Chilean sea bass is so darned delicious it was seriously overfished, often using methods that resulted in a lot of by-catch with lots of pirate fishing by unscrupulous fishermen. Due to pressure from governments, conservation groups and industry, these practices have improved dramatically, although not uniformly all over the world. The result is Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch provides mixed sustainability recommendations for Chilean sea bass, including Best Choice, Good Choice and Avoid for Chilean sea bass, depending where it was caught and how it was caught. Other environmental groups say Chilean sea bass should not be elevated in its sustainability rating until there are more uniform world-wide fishing practices and more accurate labeling.
What about mercury levels?
Chilean sea bass is a larger, slow-growing fish and consequently does accumulate mercury. Chilean sea bass is listed by the Environmental Defense Fund as being high in mercury, although not as high as swordfish or shark. The EDF provides safe eating recommendations of no more than two servings per month for adults and one serving per month for children. A recent study by the University of Hawaii-Manoa found that levels of mercury depend on where the fish is caught and that current labeling practices cannot always be relied on to accurately track where the fish was sourced. Sea bass from near the Antarctic where pollution levels are lower were found to have significantly lower levels of mercury than sea bass caught farther north.
The bottom line
The sustainability and environmentally sound fishing practices for Chilean sea bass have improved significantly in recent years, but there is more work to be done. Mercury levels are more concerning, as our oceans are not getting any cleaner. As long as labeling of fish is inaccurate, we will not really know what we are eating.
As much as I really love Chilean sea bass, I will save it for special occasions and focus my fish consumption on more environmentally sustainable, lower mercury, high omega-3 species.
- ¾ cup white wine
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
- 3 T fresh lemon juice and zest of one lemon
- 3 T unsalted butter
- 2 T fresh dill, chopped, divided
- 2 T capers, drained
- 2 T grape seed oil, or other oil with a high smoke point
- 2 pounds Chilean sea bass filets about 1½" thick, skin removed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat your oven to 450 degrees. Put wine, garlic, shallot, lemon juice and lemon zest in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Continue cooking until liquid is reduced to about ⅓ cup. Reduce heat to low and whisk in 1 tablespoon of butter at a time. Remove from heat and stir in 1 T dill and capers. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Heat an oven proof skillet on high and add grapeseed oil to the pan. Heat the oil until it starts to shimmer. Dry the sea bass thoroughly and season with salt and pepper. Sear the fillets for about 3 minutes on each side, turning once. The goal is to get a crispy golden crust on each side.
- Remove the pan from the stove and transfer to the hot oven. Roast for about 5 minutes in the oven until sea bass is just cooked through.
- Plate the fish, drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with remaining 1 T fresh dill.
THIS SERVES WELL WITH