Pan Roasting Is Where It's At
Professional chefs use this pan-roasting cooking technique all the time but how many of you have heard of it or pan roast at home?
Before you start this recipe, I recommend you read my article on pan roasting to pick up some tips on how to pan-roast sea bass properly. It provides you with some great tips and suggestions to help understand how to pan roasting works and why it is a popular cooking method with professional chefs.
This post also talks about the importance of being careful whenever you heat up oils and other fats or add fats to a preheated pan. You can see how I determine pan temperature before adding fat in my post How Much Heat To Use When Sauteing.
Chilean Sea Bass
Currently, there is a lot of controversy about the Chilean Sea Bass, also called the Patagonian toothfish and you can read more about this controversy below. This recipe calls for sea bass and there are many varieties of sea bass including black sea bass, giant sea bass, Japanese sea bass, European sea bass and I'm sure there are more.
I suppose if you want to confuse the issue, even more, we could talk about striped bass but that's another species and a topic for another time.
Ignoring the controversy, I am a big fan of Chilean sea bass but because of the very high cost, I don't buy it very often. I am amazed at how such an ugly fish can taste so good. Instead, I often opt for black sea bass or stripe bass, both coming out of the Atlantic ocean.
Pan Roasted Sea Bass Recipe
- If you can, I highly recommend getting all the ingredients prepped before you start - Mise en Place. This way, you're not scrambling around chopping something while the rest of the meal is overcooking.
- Start by finely chopping the onion and slicing the mushrooms. Then, chop up the parsley, besides having all the other ingredients available.
- Preheat your oven to 450°F. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of waiting until I needed the oven, which took much longer than expected to reach the right temperature.
- Heat the olive oil in your pan over medium-high heat and sauté the chopped onion until it's translucent.
- Deglaze the pan with Marsala wine. Be careful to remove the pan from the stove when doing this to prevent the wine from igniting in your face. You can use white wine if you don't have any Marsala wine. It will give the dish a slightly different taste, but you may like it better.When most of the wine is cooked off, add the mushrooms and butter. This recipe would have a lot more flavor if you were to use wild mushrooms, but at the time, all I had were plain old bland white mushrooms, and it still came out great with lots of flavors.
- Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the mushrooms are tender. How do you know when they are tender?Taste one! That's part of the enjoyment of cooking; you get to taste as you go along. It's also a great way to learn what works and what doesn't. If you follow a recipe without tasting it, you'll never learn the effects ingredients have on a dish.This is especially true with salt. I've made soups that tasted OK, but after adding a little salt, they had a fantastic new flavor. So make sure you taste as you go along.
- At this point add the chicken stock, a little salt and pepper, and let the sauce cook down until it thickens a little. Rule of thumb: when the sauce can coat a spoon, it is the correct thickness. This is something you need to play around with until you learn to get it to the thickness you like.
- In an oven-proof sauté (fry) pan, heat the canola oil until hot, but not so hot that it's about to smoke. Be careful whenever you cook with hot oil or any fat you heat up. Be prepared for flame-ups by having a pan cover handy, and always have a chemical fire extinguisher in your kitchen to put out fires if necessary.
- Season the fillets with salt and pepper and add to the hot pan. Now here is where I had a small problem. My fillets didn't have skin, so I adjusted my cooking times to compensate.Otherwise, I would have started cooking them skin side down for approximately 5 minutes until the skin was nice and crispy. Then I would have flipped them over for 30 seconds, transferred them into a 450°F oven, and roasted them for about 3-4 minutes.
- But since my fillets were skinless, cook them on one side for about 5 to 6 minutes and flip them over for another 2 minutes before transferring them to the oven for 3 to 4 minutes.
- On warm plates ( you can heat them in the microwave for about 2 minutes), dish out the onion-mushroom mixture and top with the pan-roasted fillets. Sprinkle a little of the chopped parsley and serve.
Help, I Need Some Advice With This Pan Roasted Sea Bass Recipe
I received an email from Kurt who made an attempt at the Pan Roasted Sea Bass recipe posted on my web site. He had a few problems and sent me some great questions describing in detail what had gone wrong. I immediately contacted my friend Chef Alan Bickel, an expert in seafood cooking, and asked him to look at the Sea Bass recipe to make sure it was correct and to help Kurt with his situation.
Here is what Kurt emailed me:
"I found your site looking for a good recipe for Chilean Sea Bass and have really enjoyed looking through all your recipes and tips. You have a fantastic site here!
I tried to make the sea bass the way you suggested and it came out looking nothing like yours and I'm sure it didn't taste as good either. I have a couple of places where I think I went wrong and was wondering if you had a minute or two to offer some advice.
I got the fish from a local market and when they gave it to me, it was in one big piece (2 lbs) and I decided to cut it into 4 smaller pieces, once down the middle lengthwise then once across more toward the thicker side so I had 2 smaller thicker pieces and 2 bigger thinner ones. Was this the correct way to cut it? Or should I have just cut it like a swordfish steak?
Next, when I pan-fried it, I put it skin side down for 6 minutes but when I went to turn it, the skin peeled right off and the underside wasn't cooked at all. As a result, I had to put it back into the oil more and it didn't really brown up and crust at all, so after I popped it in the oven it came out very loose and had almost a milky look to it. Any idea what could have caused this? Or was I just impatient and should have let it sit longer on the stove?
My last question is about the mushroom and onion sauce. I couldn't get it to thicken one bit and all the liquid cooked off leaving me with just sautéed mushrooms and onions. Is there some kind of trick to this?
I'm looking forward to trying some of the other recipes on the site. Keep up the fantastic work and thank you very much!"
Here is Chef Alan's response to Kurt and I:
"As far as your recipe goes, you're pretty much Spot On with the way we pan-sear fish in the kitchen. Your technique is great, and the finished dish is something that looks great! (I'm sure it tastes out of this world, too- Sea bass is one of my favorite fish, it has such a great flavor, and you can do just about anything with it!)
And now onto Kurt's dilemma --
Kurt, from the sound of it, the way you've fabricated (cut up) your filet sounds about right (without seeing it, I really can't be sure) You want to end up with roughly block-ish cuts, the thickness will simply dictate your cooking times. (Thicker fish= more time in the oven.)
Here is where I think you can improve on your methods.
1. Dry Your Fish! - especially if you are working with skin on filets, pat your fish dry with a towel, until no moisture readily comes off. (this will help produce your initial crust, as well as help prevent the fish from sticking.) Also, salting your skin a bit will help pull out the last of the moisture & add a bit of flavor.
2. Buy a Fish Spatula - Trying to turn fish with a pair of tongs or a grill spatula is a disaster waiting to happen.... you can find them in any store offering quality kitchen products, and can pick one up for about
$10-15. They're designed specifically to slide under tender fish and help you turn it without breaking/tearing it. (this is one of the few little kitchen gadget/tools that i can't live without.)
3. The soft, milky texture you are talking about usually comes from long cooking times at low temperatures, which in some cases can be quite delicious (as with slow poached salmon or halibut) but in your case, you want to make sure that your oven is cranked way up (at least 450)
The reason that this happens is when the fish protein begins to break down and coagulate (at around 160 degrees F) low temperature cooking will prevent the fish from drying out (firming up) and what seems like a reasonable cooking time (7-9 minutes) is barely enough to raise the internal temperature of the filet.
One reason that pan searing helps cook the fish is that it brings the outer part of the fish up to a very high temperature, thus shortening the cooking time (as does placing the fish in the oven in a hot pan.)
4. Ahh, pan sauces.... make sure you've got the pan on a low heat, you just want to simmer it, and if it seems that you're almost out of liquid with no apparent sauce, try mounting it with 2-3 oz. of whole butter.
Mounting, you say??? It's easy- just take a small piece of cold butter, add it to your pan, (over a low heat) and stir constantly, allowing the butter to melt slowly into the remaining liquid. This will give you a little more volume, as well as a velvety texture and richness that goes great over fish. (and Chicken. And Beef. And Lamb. And Shellfish. And Pork... get the picture?)
5. Lastly, sometimes it just seems that no matter how closely you follow directions, and how carefully you prepare your dish, things just don't turn out right... The only thing you can do in this case is to try again, and with a little patience and experimenting, you'll get there."
Some of My Favorite Seafood Recipes
- Salmon Curry with Coconut Miso Recipe
- Grilled Salmon Delight: Perfectly Cooked Catch of the Day
- Everything You Need to Know About Ceviche
- Roasted Cod with Potatoes and Fennel Recipe
- Classic Tuna Casserole with Dill Recipe
- Shrimp Sauce Recipe
- Shrimp and Sweet Potato Curry Recipe
- Bacon Wrapped Scallops Over Coconut Curry Lentils Recipe