This gorgeous fish can be on your table in 10 minutes! Drizzled with a buttery lemon-caper sauce, Pan-Seared Chilean Sea Bass is as succulent and as flaky as fish can be.
Chilean Sea Bass, whose true name is Patagonian Toothfish, has a mild sweet flavor with a firm, buttery and flaky texture.
This elegant and simple, melt-in-your-mouth fish recipe is absolutely lovely for entertaining. And it's super quick to put together and great for busier weeknights, too. Add a salad and bread and dinner is ready!
You don't hear about many recipes under the name Patagonian Toothfish, because let's face it, Chilean Sea Bass sounds much more appetizing. 😉
- Chilean Sea Bass (Patagonian Toothfish) fillets - Choose fillets that are firm without any discoloration. Always buy the freshest fish possible. If you have a specialty fish market near you, that's probably your best bet.
- fresh lemon juice - Choose Meyer lemons over regular lemons when given the option. Meyer lemons are a touch less tart and a touch sweeter. And with a thinner skin and fewer seeds, they are incredibly juicy.
- capers - Capers are unripened, pickled green flower buds of the Caper Bush. Their taste is tart, tangy and salty, and they're delicious paired with lemon.
- unsalted butter - I cook (and bake) with unsalted butter so I can better control how much salt goes in a recipe. In this recipe this is especially important because the capers are salty.
- black pepper - Preferably freshly ground.
(See recipe card below for quantities.)
Substitutions and Variations
- Chilean Sea Bass. Chilean Sea Bass is very expensive (for a couple of reasons), so a substitution might be welcome, and the possibilities are endless. The lemon-caper sauce is amazing with just about all fish and shellfish. My first choice for an alternative is Pacific Cod.
- Capers. Finely chopped Kalmata or green olives work well as substitutes for the capers. You can also omit them all together if you'd like.
- Butter. For a lighter sauce, use a mix of butter and olive oil. Or to really keep it simple, just drizzle the fish with lemon juice.
- It's important that your pan be very hot before you add the fish. You won't get a good sear, or golden "crust" if it's not.
- Once cooked, the fillets should still be slightly translucent in the very center. As soon as you see that the fish can flake apart, it's ready. (Use the prongs of a fork to gently test this.)
- The lemon-caper sauce is made in the same pan as the fish, right after it's removed. There's no need to use a separate pan -- it's so quick to make the sauce, that the fish will still be hot when it's ready to drizzle over it.
How to Make it
- Heat a large non-stick sauté pan over high-medium heat and coat the bottom with olive oil.
- While the pan is heating, place the fillets on a baking sheet or plate and season both sides with salt and pepper.
- When the pan is very hot, add the fillets, with at least an inch between them. You should hear a sizzling sound, and if you don't, your pan is not hot enough yet. Sauté just until the bottoms are golden, about 2 minutes. Flip them over, turn the heat to medium-low, and sauté just until they're cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove the fillets from the pan and set them aside on a serving dish.
Cooking times will vary slightly, depending on the thickness of the fish and the pan you're using. To ensure maximum flakiness, the fish should still be slightly translucent in the center.
- Over low heat, add the butter, capers and lemon juice to the pan and swirl it around until the butter is melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Drizzle the sauce over the fish and serve immediately.
Is Chilean Sea Bass Sustainable?
- All you really need with this lovely lemony fish is a salad and a warm, rustic loaf of bread. Fried Lemon Caesar Salad is excellent with it.
- To make for a heartier meal, Chilean Sea Bass is absolutely incredible served on top of mashed potatoes. This combination might seem counter intuitive since the fish is light and mashed potatoes are typically rich, but trust me, it's amazing! Especially with the lemon butter seeping into the soft potatoes.
- It's also delicious with Roasted Garlic Basil Rice.
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Can you make it ahead?
I wouldn't. It's so quick and easy, and at its best served right out of the pan.
I hope you enjoy every last succulent bite!
Chilean Sea Bass (Patagonian Toothfish) Recipe
- olive oil for the pan
- 4 (approx. 4-ounce) fillets Chilean Sea Bass (Patagonian Toothfish)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons capers
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- salt and black pepper
- Prepare the fish. Heat a large non-stick sauté pan over high-medium heat and coat the bottom with olive oil. While the pan is heating, place the fillets on a baking sheet and season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Sear the fish. When the pan is very hot, add the fillets, with at least an inch between them. You should hear a sizzling sound, and if you don't, your pan is not hot enough yet. Wait for the sizzle! Sauté just until the bottoms are browned, about 2 minutes. Flip them over, turn the heat to medium-low, and sauté just until they're cooked through, about 3 minutes. (Cooking times will vary slightly, depending on the thickness of the fish.) To ensure maximum flakiness, the fish should still be slightly translucent in the center. Remove the fish from the pan.
- Make the sauce. Over low heat, add the butter, capers and lemon juice to the pan and swirl it around until the butter is melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve. Drizzle the sauce over the fish and serve immediately.