Restaurant-Style Chilean Sea Bass

5 from 41 votes
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Make my restaurant-quality pan-seared Chilean sea bass recipe in 15 minutes. It’s crisp outside, tender, juicy, and flaky in the middle, and served with rich lemon butter sauce!

Pan seared sea bass fillets topped with lemon butter sauce

If you’re looking for a dish that’s sophisticated enough for a dinner party, impressive enough for date night, and super quick and simple to prepare, this quick pan seared Chilean sea bass recipe is a must-try. It’s so tender, juicy, and flavorful that it practically melts in the mouth. Plus, you can have it from the kitchen to the table in just 15 minutes, and there’s minimal prep or clean-up, making this the best seared Chilean sea bass ever.

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Watch the video tutorial

What is Chilean sea bass?

Chilean sea bass is a deep sub-Antarctic cold water species of fish found in the Pacific, southern Atlantic, and Indian oceans. It’s also known as Patagonian toothfish, mero, or icefish.

It’s high in protein and low in carbs, and it’s famously known for its rich yet delicate, almost buttery flavor (not overly fishy!) and tender, flaky texture. Often likened to black cod but even softer and slightly sweeter, it’s considered a premium-quality fish, fairly hard to overcook, and very versatile, perfect for enjoying with all sorts of seasonings, sauces, and sides.

Ingredients

Ingredients for Chilean sea bass recipe
  • Chilean sea bass filets: You can use fresh or frozen (thawed first) fillets. When purchasing fresh, look for skin-on, bones-removed fillets of a similar size and, especially, thickness (for even cooking).
  • Olive oil and butter: Combining both helps create a rich and buttery dish. If preferred, ghee could replace butter, and avocado oil could replace olive oil.
  • Sea salt & black pepper
  • Fresh parsley: (Optional) Fresh herbs are a great garnish for the fish.
  • Lemon butter sauce: I paired the fish with a simple, bright, homemade lemon butter sauce combining butter, fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Optionally, you can also add garlic.

How to cook Chilean sea bass

First, pat the sea bass fillets dry with paper towels to remove moisture. Then, generously sprinkle salt and black pepper on both sides of the fillets.

Steps for seasoning sea bass

Next, heat the butter and oil in a large skillet/frying pan (or well-seasoned cast iron skillet) over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the fillets skin-side-down and pan-sear for 3-4 minutes per side (depending on the thickness). For very thick fillets over an inch, it can take 5 minutes per side. Note that if it sticks when you try to flip the fillet, it’s not ready. Leave it for a further 10-15 seconds and try again.

Steps for cooking sea bass in butter

To ensure the Chilean sea bass fillets are properly cooked, use a thermometer to check that the internal temperature is 140-145ºF/60-63ºC. Alternatively, use a fork to see if it flakes easily.

Meanwhile, while the fish cooks (or beforehand), prepare the simple lemon sauce by melting the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until lightly browned. Then mix in the lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Homemade lemon butter sauce in a small bowl

When everything is ready, spoon the lemon butter sauce over the pan seared sea bass, and enjoy!

How to serve

To make this dish complete, pair it with some great sides. You can pick a fresh, flavorful salad or a simple, classic side dish. Either way, it’ll taste amazing! Here are some of the best dishes to serve with pan seared Chilean sea bass:

Drizzling sea bass fillets with lemon butter sauce

Top tips for the perfect Chilean sea bass

  • Choose the right Chilean sea bass: Opt for fresh and skin-on fillets of similar size to ensure even cooking. When pan seared, the skin turns wonderfully crispy and delicious. If you prefer not to eat the skin, that’s fine—just remove it after cooking. The skin helps keep the fish moist, juicy, and firm during cooking.
  • Dry and season the fish: Pat the sea bass dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture, then generously season with salt and pepper. Add other spices or herbs to suit your taste.
  • Preheat the pan: Make sure the pan is hot before adding the fish. A hot pan locks in flavors and creates a crispy exterior.
  • Don’t move the fish too soon: Let it sear without moving it for a few minutes to form a crispy crust. It’s ready to flip when it releases easily from the pan.
  • Pan-sear skin side down first: Start with the skin side down. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. The fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork and reaches an internal temperature of about 140-145ºF (60-63ºC).
  • Finish with lemon butter sauce: Spoon lemon butter sauce over the seared sea bass for extra flavor.
Cooked sea bass on a plate drizzled with lemon sauce

If you try this easy pan-seared Chilean sea bass recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations—tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

Restaurant-Style Chilean Sea Bass

5 from 41 votes
By: Samira
Make my restaurant-quality pan-seared Chilean sea bass recipe in 15 minutes. It's crisp outside, tender, juicy, and flaky in the middle, and served with rich lemon butter sauce!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

Equipment

Ingredients 
 

  • 20-24 oz Chilean sea bass 4 fillets (5-6 oz each), skin-on works best
  • 1.5 Tbsp butter or ghee
  • 1.5 Tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper or to taste

Lemon Sauce

  • 2 oz butter 1/4 cup, unsalted
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice from 1/2 large lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions 

  • Pat the sea bass fillets dry with paper towels. Generously season both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Use a large skillet and heat 1.5 Tbsp of butter and 1.5 Tbsp of oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add the fillets skin-side-down and pan-sear for 3-4 minutes per side. The cooking time depends on the thickness of the fillets.
    When ready to flip, if the fillets stick, let them cook for 10-15 seconds more, and then try again.
    The fish is ready when it flakes easily with a fork and has reached an internal temperature of 140-145ºF/60-63ºC.
  • To make the lemon sauce, melt 1/4 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until lightly browned. Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper and mix well.
  • When everything is ready, spoon the lemon butter sauce over the pan seared Chilean sea bass, serve, and enjoy!

Video

Notes

To make ahead: You can prepare the sauce several days in advance and store it in an airtight container in the fridge, ready to reheat as needed.  
To store: Allow the fish to cool and store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To freeze: Freeze the cooked fish without the sauce. Allow it to cool, transfer it to a freezer bag, squeeze out any excess air, and store for up to 2 months. Then leave to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.
To reheat: To avoid dry fish, reheat the leftovers on the stovetop over medium-low heat with a splash of water and the lid on.
Substitutes for Chilean sea bass: Black cod (also called sablefish) works particularly well as a substitute for both taste and texture. However, you can substitute it with other delicate white fish, such as regular sea bass, haddock, tilapia, etc.
Check the blog post for more tips and serving suggestions!
Course: Main
Cuisine: American
Freezer friendly: 2 Months
Shelf life: 3 Days

Nutrition

Calories: 415kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 39g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 104mg, Sodium: 785mg, Potassium: 16mg, Fiber: 0.1g, Sugar: 0.2g, Vitamin A: 773IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 7mg, Iron: 0.1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

5 from 41 votes (41 ratings without comment)

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2 Comments

  1. Dwwjr says:

    I had no idea as to how to prepare sea bass. I wanted to cook halibut but the store had no halibut on Christmas Eve. So I decided to cook sea bass. Using this recipe, it was a home run. My guests loved it.

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Thank you so much for your comment! Glad you all enjoyed the recipe 🙂