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
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large onion
- ¼ cup Marsala wine
- 8 oz mushrooms fresh
- ½ cup chicken stock
- salt and Pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 fillets sea bass approximately 1 lb.
- 1 tablespoon parsley chopped
- 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
- 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
- Spanish Shrimp and Rice Recipe
- How to Purchase and Perfectly Pan Fry Branzino
- Grilled or Roasted Fish Tacos Recipe
My husband and I made this for dinner this p.m...fantastico!! We will be saving this in our favorite recipes' file.The pan roasting article was very informative. Thank you.
Excellent recipe and perfectly detailed instructions. The fish turned out beautiful.
Definitely a keeper recipe. Thank you!
What are your thoughts on some acid for the fish?
Pretty good and I liked the pan roasting but the skin immediate seared to the pan and that was the end of it. Tips?
The Reluctant Gourmet
Hey Bobbo, big problem with many home cooks. Check out my post on Preventing fish from sticking at http://www.reluctantgourmet.com/how-to-prevent-fish-from-sticking-to-the-pan/
It was delicious definitely a keeper. I wouldn't change anything in the recipe. I did use white wine, skin on sea bass and it was so tender.
I had shiitakes, so used them,, plus young Vidalia onions, so I used them. Wonderful fish and veggies.
I tried the recipe yesterday. I followed the recipe exactly. I was a little unclear on adding the mushrooms to the sauteed onions, but I did anyway. The result was EXCELLENT! The meal was restaurant quality Sea Bass! My husband was impressed.
With the exception of the snaffu, the directions were clear, easily understandable and easy to follow. Thank you Reluctant Gourmet, you have a new follower for life!
Just made this minus the mushrooms and added a bit more chicken broth... AMAZING!!! Cooked it with out Skin and followed the directions..
love love love!!
Made this tonight for our first time having sea bass. The fish was cooked to perfection and a nice touch with the mushrooms which I would not pair with fish normally. I chose to pair with a moscato, asparagus and fried green tomatoes.
Well, I must say, this was pure restaurant quality! We love sea bass but I have never cooked at home and just a little apprehensive due to its high price. But the step by step instructions convinced me o try. Very delicious! Plated ld rice pilaf bed, opped with the mushroom reduction, topped with the fish, fresh asparagus and Santa Margharita Pinot Grigio. Perfection! Thank for the recipe. Will do again.
Our fisherman neighbor gave us some sea bass filets, a fish which we'd never had before. Went online and found this recipe. DElicious! Had it with a rice medley, asparagus and cauliflower . . . and a Chilean sauvignon blanc. This recipe is a little labor-intensive before serving, but well worth it. I'll be using this recipe far into the future! Enjoy. . . .
Just finished dinner and it was phenomenal!
Thanks for info I'm a chef in Sonoma co and didthis for spec ...turned out great
The Reluctant Gourmet
You are very welcome Chef Shopes
Tried this tonight. I was a little nervous, but our local market had Chilean Sea Bass on sale for $20.00/lb. Turned out amazing! Thank you for the thorough step by step directions.
The Reluctant Gourmet
You are very welcome Laura. Thanks for letting me know and Happy New Year.
I have made this about 4 times, last night (V day) I made this and double it, had some guest over. It is always my go to every time we have special occasions and fork out big money on sea bass, every time I make it, it taste better. Thanks for the step by step....it comes out perfectly every time....thank you thank you!!
last night we had 4 big cuts skin on, I used a ceramic cast iron skillet and waited until the oil was really hot (on the stove), seared the skin to a crisp (just like the directions said) flipped it over and finished it off in the oven at 450 cooks up perfect every single time!! so good
Looking up a good recipe for the expensive treat of the sea bass I bought today at Fresh Market. Somehow the Marsala wine doesn't sound right...will either try white or perhaps my new favorite deglazing/flavor enhancer...dry sake. Any comments on how you think it will do?
I have always hated fish but decided to try eating more (ok any) to help me lose weight and get healthier. For no specific reason I chose to buy one chilean sea bass filet from Fresh Market. Then I looked for a recipe on the internet and landed here. I was nervous as I had spent a small fortune, had no experience cooking fish and had a mental block about fish that made me think that at best I would tolerate the meal. I followed the very clear instructions as exactly as possible considering I only had one piece of fish and using the white wine since I don't like marsala. OMG the whole dish was absolutely fabulous. If it was affordable I would eat it every single day. Thank you for making one person convert to eating fish and actually enjoying it instead of merely tolerating.
Grateful that you included the additional info with the skin on the fish. Cooked to perfection, crispy skin, melt in your mouth fish. I used coconut oil for the frying, and a blend of maitake, shiitake and crimini mushrooms for the sauce, replacing the marsala with my "paleo wine" substitution.
I've made this several times now and each time it has been a smashing success! There is no better sea bass recipe out there!
Have you ever thought about adding a sliver or two of lemon grass to the mix?? Thoughts?
This was excellent I highly recommend very easy and delicious. will definitely keep as a favorite recipe
I just made this and it was very tasty!
I will definitely make it again
How thick is your fillet? What weight? These basic facts make an enormous difference, whether your cooking time works or not!
The Reluctant Gourmet
J, did you read steps 7 & 8 in the recipe?
I just tried this recipe for my wife and her mom and we ate every bite of it. This was absolutely delicious. We used red onions and white wine instead of Marsala, but otherwise, we followed the recipe. Definitely worth the effort!
Made this recipe tonight with Striped Bass that my boyfriend caught yesterday.
It was delicious!!!!!!! I added fresh spinach to mushrooms and onions.
This recipe had such good flavor, the paring of the mushrooms and onions with the marsala was awesome with the fish
Will make again....
Oh my gosh just made this. Put the sauce on the side because the fish on its own is incredible. Then added ... Wow. My husbands all time favorite.
I have never cooked Chilean sea bass. I always order out. I found it on sale today and decided to give it a try. This sounds amazing and I can't wait to try it tonight
This receipe was simply amazing! I added a little more Marsala for added flavor with the chicken stock. Spread some chive mashed potatoes on plate f and topped with fish and mushroom sauce. OMG , it was like a party in my mouth.
Thanks for making the instructions soooo detailed!!!!
Made this tonight with shiitakes, onions, and Malbec. Amazing dish. It was perfect! The fish was creamy and perfectly cooked. Wouldn't change a thing! Thank you for sharing!
Just prepared this dish with a side of shrimp risotto. Best fish dish we've ever cooked at home. Used portobello mushrooms which added a great flavor to the dish. Can't wait to make for friends and family.
Thank you for the great instructions and information on cooking Chilean Sea Bass! I've never cooked Chilean Sea Bass before but picked up a piece at the Whole Foods near work and definitely prefer this delicate flavor and cooking method over any other...we'll be making this again. The mushrooms I used were a blend of dehydrated ones that we got at Costco (I did rehydrate them before cooking with them); it was so delicious I wouldn't hesitate to use them again.
Wonderful recipe, however the sauce didn't thicken it just cooked away. I also added asparagus.
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this recipe! I made it a few years back, and it has been an absolute hit ever since. I made this for my now husband when we were dating and he has been hooked on me and this recipe ever since! SMILE 😉 He tells everyone that it is his favorite meal that I prepare. Thank you for the amazing recipe!
The Reluctant Gourmet
Thank you Karen for letting me know. Much appreciated.
Fantastic recipe, R.G. Jones!
My slightly more mushroomy variation included:
- black truffles in oil served atop the finished seabass (as well as a little in the sauce)
- shallots instead of onions
- a dash of garlic
- a squeeze of lemon
- porcini salt to garnish
served with a side of spinach. Thank you for providing the recipe, this was probably the tastiest fish I've cooked up to date.
First of all I never post comments (sorry) on anyone's page, but I'll start now. I love cooking nice meals with lots of flavor and this was one of them for sure!! My husband bought Seabass for dinner tonight so I searched for a recipe to make for him. He thought it was Chilean Seabass, but it was Mediterranean Sea Bass with the skin. I wasn't sure the difference but they were so thin, so I decided to go with what we always use fresh Mahi. This recipe was absolutely AMAZING!! Searing in the pan first then followed by a few minutes in the oven left it flaky and moist. I served it with fresh sautéed spinich. Our next dinner party I will certainly make this! I wouldn't change anything it was perfect. Thank you!
The Reluctant Gourmet
You are very welcome Tracy. Thanks for the kind comments.
Wow! I walked down to the fish market to get my Chilean sea bass and was dertermined to cook it properly. Wow! It was perfect. I had skin on so I followed those instructions and it was so wonderful. Also I didn't have the mushroom but the onion reduction was still wonderful.
Thank you for posting your recipe!
G. Stephen Jones
You are welcome and thanks for letting me know.
Hey, I am the most amateur of cooks. IE. I never cook. I have made sea bass before, just seared it. Cooks easy and tastes great.
I think other amateurs wold benefit from my experience. I followed the directions to a tee and when I added canola oil to the hot cast iron pan, I had flames and nearly burnt down my house. I am lucky I did not panic and had a fire extinguisher nearby. So, I think you need to advise people of this. I have no idea how this happened to me and no one else.
The Reluctant Gourmet
Hi Chi, thank you for sharing your experience and describing your situation. I've had that happen to me a couple of times because I wasn't paying attention and let the pan heat for too long before adding the oil and it flamed up. I used the pan's cover to cover the pan and put out the fire but it was a scary moment for me too. Although I don't say to preheat the pan before adding oil in this recipe, I do recommend it in my pan roasting techniques page. I do think it is important to heat up a pan before adding oil but I should be more clear about how hot. Years ago, I wrote a post How Much Heat To Use When Sauteing and will link the Pan Roasting page to it. On that page, I have a video showing you how I determine when a pan is ready for adding the oil by first using a teaspoon of water. Let me also add a warning to all cooks who are adding any ingredient to a hot pan, WARNING: Hot oil or any fat for that matter is very dangerous and can burn you. Most home cooks rarely get their pans and the fats they cook with to the proper temperature so if you do start heating your pans and fats to optimum levels before adding any cooking fat, be very careful not to burn yourself. You may even want to start at slightly lower levels than discussed here until you are comfortable before taking them a little higher.
I have never tried Marsala wine and so I did googled it to see if I could find out what it tasted like to know if I might like it in a recipe. When I did the search it said there are both dry and sweet Marsala's, so my question is what should I pick to use in this recipe? Thanks,
G. Stephen Jones
Great question Kathy. I don't think when making pan sauces it makes that much of a difference and the taste difference will not be that different. You are using the wine to deglaze the pan and then reducing it down. Saying that, I prefer a dry marsala for making sauces and prefer a sweet marsala for dessert recipes like tiramisu. Which one you decide really depends on your personal tastes. If you have both sweet and dry marsala on hand, make half the sauce with one and half with the other and see which one you like best. If you only want to buy one bottle, I would go for the dry marsala. Hope this helps.
OMG We fixed this Sea Bass a couple of months ago and absolutely loved it. We are having it again tonight. It took us this long to save the $70 for the sea bass. Good fresh fish is hard to find in Arkansas.
G. Stephen Jones
Jerry, what is sea bass going per pound in Arkansas? Glad you enjoyed the meal.
This recipe is to die for! This past season I was fortunate enough to catch one of these massive fish spearfishing. I used this recipe and it was awesome! Nothing beats fresh wild caught fish. If you haven't tried it, you should!
This recipe is great and you can even sub out the Chilean sea bass for white sea bass for a little more texture. I'll definitely be adding this to my recipe book!
Am considering making this. I too am a fan of Orvieto white wine, especially from Antinori's "Campogrande" vineyards.
My husband and I made this tonight and it was fabulous. Since I cannot have mushrooms, we used the juice of one lemon and white wine. The only problem we had was that the sea bass did not have a skin, so it stuck to the pan. But, it was orgasmic non the less. We served it with basmati rice and fresh string beans seasoned with oil olive and garlic! Bravissimo!!! Thank you for this wonderful recipe.
Hi, I just left a review. I can’t figure out how to send this recipe to a friend. Can you let me know please? Thank you.
Purchased sea bass from Sams VERY THIN how long should this be baked at and temp. Thanks!
G. Stephen Jones
Hi Carol, Very difficult to give you precise temp and time without seeing and working with the sea bass. Typically, I would bake (roast) a filet of fish at 350 - 400 degrees F for 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. Since you are pan roasting the sea bass by starting it in a pan and finishing in the oven, these times may be a little less. I suggest you check the fish after 5 minutes and test for opaqueness and flakiness to see if it's done. It's better to have to cook it some more than over cook the fish. Hope this helps.
This was SO yummy! I had never cooked seabass or any variety of mushrooms really. I bought some gourmet mushrooms and it went well w this dish. The fish was super moist and came out perfect! Thanks!