An amazing seafood dish for special occasions, dinner parties, and date nights at home. Crispy, potato-crusted Sautéed 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 flaky white fish 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 prep and cooking time.
What you'll need to make this recipe:
Before we get to the step by step directions, a few notes about the ingredients:
Fish: the recipe calls for Chilean sea bass. You can easily substitute halibut or black cod (sablefish). But I've also tested this recipe using regular Atlantic cod and European sea bass (branzino), 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.
Potatoes: Yukon gold potatoes are ideal for this recipe. Look for a handful of potatoes that are roughly the same small size.
Herbs: the recipe calls for fresh, flat leaf parsley in the herb butter sauce. Substitute fresh chives or basil.
Full ingredient list and measurements included in the printable recipe card below.
Step by step instructions for this simple recipe:
1. Prep potatoes
To begin, prepare your potatoes. Using a mandolin, very thinly slice 2-3 small Yukon gold potatoes. (I used the thinnest setting.) Rinse in a bowl of cold water and set aside to dry.
2. Season and prep sea bass
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 only.
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.
3. Sauté sea bass
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.
Flip gently. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, until the fish is cooked through (internal temperature of 145℉).
4. Make butter sauce
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 and swirling the pan to heat everything through. Taste and add salt, if needed.
5. Garnish and serve
Plate the sea bass skin-side down over wilted spinach. Pour butter sauce with herbs over each fillet and serve immediately.
Looking for more special occasion seafood recipes?
FAQ's and Serving Suggestions:
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, Duchess Potato Casserole, Roasted Green Cauliflower, Fresh Gazpacho Salad or Garlic Lemon Green Beans with Almonds.
When you overcook fish, it can become dry, tough, and lack flavor. Overcooked fish loses its natural moisture, which can result in a dry and chewy texture. Use an instant-read thermometer to track the temperature on your fish and remove from the pan at 140℉. The carry-over cooking will take you to the FDA recommended temperature.
If you're lucky enough to have 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.