An amazing seafood dish for special occasions, dinner parties, and date nights at home. Crispy potato-crusted sea bass with herb butter sauce is the fancy French preparation that will impress everyone and make you look like a Michelin chef in your own kitchen.
Are you ready to make one of my favorite fish recipes of all time? This Chilean sea bass recipe is based on a classic French preparation pioneered by culinary superhero Paul Bucose, where he used tiny potato slices to form fish “scales” on the fillets.
I’ve simplified the process but kept the magical flavors and now this amazing dish can be on the table with less than 30 minutes of active preparation and cooking time.
But first, let’s talk about the fish.
More about Chilean Sea Bass:
This premium seafood is actually a Patagonian toothfish and is found in the cold, deep waters off the southernmost coasts of South America (off Chile and Argentina). This fish is prized for its firm white flesh that cooks beautifully and falls into huge flakes when eating. It offers a unique, mild umami flavor that is buttery and slightly sweet. Chilean sea bass has a higher fat content than most white fish, which creates an unusually meaty experience when eating.
Chilean sea bass is an expensive fish so I save it for special occasions. I made this recipe most recently on a trip back to the US visiting our dear friends and family. Not every grocery store carries sea bass, but I consistently found it at Whole Foods, where I purchased the fish for this recipe. I found out the new local fish market in my Tennessee town also carried sea bass regularly.
If you can’t find Chilean sea bass or it’s out of your price range, no worries! I’ve included several great options for substituting other widely-available and reasonably priced fish that you can find in any local grocery store.
What you’ll need to make this Potato-Crusted Sautéed Sea Bass with Herb Butter Sauce:
- Chilean sea bass fillets
- Yukon gold potatoes
- Clarified butter or ghee
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Fresh lemon juice
- Flat leaf parsley
Full measurements and directions included in the printable recipe card below.
Step by step instructions for this simple recipe:
To begin, prepare your potatoes. Using a mandolin, very thinly slice 2-3 Yukon gold potatoes. (I used the thinnest setting.) Rinse in a bowl of cold water and set aside to dry.
Next, dry your sea bass fillets well with paper towels. Generously season the skin side of the fresh fish with salt and pepper. Turn over. Brush each fillet with a half tablespoon of clarified butter. Sprinkle the buttered flesh side with sea salt.
Lay the potato slices across the sea bass fillet shingle-style, covering the entire flesh side of the fillet. Sprinkle the top of the potato slices with additional salt. Move the potato crusted fillet to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, heat a cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the 2 remaining tablespoons of clarified butter. Lay the fish fillets, potato side down, into the skillet. Leave undisturbed for 3-4 minutes. Use a fish spatula to carefully check the browning on the potatoes. You’ll want a deep golden brown before turning. Flip gently. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, until the fish is cooked through (internal temperature of 145 degrees).
Remove fillets from the skillet and tent with foil. Wipe out your skillet and return to the burner over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and melt. Add the tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and diced parsley, cooking for just a minute to heat everything through. Taste and add salt, if needed.
Plate the sea bass skin-side down over wilted spinach. Pour butter sauce with herbs over each fillet and serve immediately.
Note: I’m obsessed with crispy skin on fish, so I love keeping the skin on when serving this fillet. If you prefer skinless fish, ask your fishmonger to remove the skin when you purchase the fish, or simply use your spatula to lift the cooked fish away from the skin before serving.
Note: If you can’t serve the fish immediately after plating, I recommend pouring the sauce on the bottom of the plate or serving dish and laying the fish over the sauce to preserve the crispy texture of the beautiful golden crust.
FAQ’s and Serving Suggestions for Sautéed Sea Bass:
This Chilean sea bass recipe can be replicated using several other white fish varieties, especially halibut or black cod (sablefish). But I’ve also tested this recipe using regular Atlantic cod and European sea bass, and both turned out beautifully. They don’t have the luxurious texture and richness that Chilean sea bass offers, but the light, flaky fish created a great platform for the crispy, buttery potato scales.
The relatively high heat we use to brown the potato scales and the skin may burn the milk solids in regular butter. Ghee is pure butter with the milk solids removed, so it has a very clean flavor and does not contain the dairy that can burn. I love the flavor of it in this dish and the worry-free nature of using it for browning both the potatoes and the fish. For the butter sauce, regular butter is ideal as the dairy adds a luscious creamy quality to the sauce.
I love to keep the fish as the star, serving it over a simple pile of seasoned wilted spinach. But it would also be delicious with Marinated Grilled Asparagus, Roasted Green Cauliflower, Fresh Gazpacho Salad or Garlic Lemon Green Beans with Almonds.
To store leftovers, transfer fish to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. To reheat, gently cook fish over low heat in a cast iron skillet or nonstick pan until just warmed.
Looking for more special occasion seafood dishes? Try these amazing recipes next!
- King Crab Legs with Lemon Butter Sauce
- Grilled Argentinian Shrimp with Pistachio Chimichurri
- Mussels with Caramelized Shallots and Fennel
- Shrimp and Crab Stuffed Salmon
- Langoustine Lobster Risotto
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