Why Sea Bass Is a Great Fish for Getting Fancy

Header image: Whole Grilled Bass with Olives, Onion, and Artichoke from CHOW

There are a few types of fish that are true “chef-y” fish. When you spot them on the menu, you can pretty much picture what the finished dish looks like: impeccably plated, with an elegant sauce and some seasonal veggies on the side. Sea bass is definitely up there as one of those species that is pretty much designed for the professional treatment. With its delicate flavor and fluffy yet tender flesh, it’s the ideal canvas for pretty much any inventive flavor combinations that can be dreamed up.

But just because an ingredient has high-falutin connotations doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t attempt cooking it at home. Sea bass is actually perfect for a classy, home-cooked date-night or dinner party meal.

Before you head to your fishmonger, however, let’s make it clear which fish we’re talking about here. The true bass species most commonly available at market are black sea bass, striped bass, and branzino (a.k.a. European sea bass). They should suit you just swell in the following recipes.

There are other fish, however, that carry the bass name, despite the fact that they are completely unrelated to the real deal. Chilean sea bass, for example, is actually a gussied up name for the Patagonian toothfish, which is known for its firm and fatty flesh. It’s delicious, but it’s also a species that has been singled out for its depleted stocks and less than wholesome fishing practices. The true bass species, on the other hand, are generally considered a sustainable choice, so long as they’re not caught using nets or trawlers that pick up large amounts of bycatch.

Are you ready to be all about that bass? Here are nine recipes that get fishy in high style.

1. Whole Grilled Bass with Olives, Onion, and Artichoke

Few things manage to stun while keeping it simple quite like a whole roasted or grilled fish. This particular recipe gives it the Mediterranean treatment, with a stuffing full of lemon and oregano and accompanying artichoke and olive skewers. Get our Whole Grilled Bass with Olives, Onion, and Artichoke recipe.

2. Salt Baked Lemongrass Sea Bass

Jet & Indigo

Salt baking is a fantastic technique to use with whole fish because it does a surefire job of locking in moisture and flavor. It really helps amp up the aromatics, which include lemongrass, lime, and Thai holy basil in this recipe. Get the recipe here.

3. Sea Bass Carpaccio with Coriander and Grapefruit

Food & Wine

It should be stressed that if you are making carpaccio, you should use only the freshest, highest quality fish, the type worthy of a recipe like this one, which does little more than let the ingredients shine in their most elemental raw state. Get the recipe here.

4. Sea Bass and Tomato Ceviche

Bon Appetit

The same applies for ceviche, which brings a wallop of fiery, citrusy flavor to chunks of fresh bass. Get the recipe here.

5. Sea Bass with Cannellini Bean Stew

Feasting at Home

Sea bass can also do the job if the mood calls for something hearty and warming. Here, it provides a light yet sustaining addition to a bean and vegetable stew. Get the recipe here.

6. Panfried Sea Bass with Harissa and Rose

Epicurious

Sea bass may come off as delicate, but it really can hold its own against some bold seasonings. Case in point: this recipe with peppery harissa, a glug of rose water, and a drizzle of sweet, sweet honey. Get the recipe here.

7. Lemon Soy Roasted Branzino

The Woks of Life

Branzino is a bass that’s frequently served whole, serving as the centerpiece to many a Mediterranean-style feast. Although found in the waters off Europe, its meaty, mild flesh can handle pretty much any globally-inspired seasonings you throw at it, including the umami-filled stylings of soy sauce. Get the recipe here.

8. Brazilian Moqueca Fish Soup

Honest Cooking

Brazilian moqueca is a tropical-leaning take on fisherman’s stew. With seafood and peppers bathed in a spicy, coconut-laden broth, it’s perfectly rich and filling without weighing you down. Get the recipe here.

9. Parchment-Poached Sea Bass

Just Eat Life

Cooking fish en papillote is a technique that every chef should have in their bag. It allows for the fillet to cook in its own juices, as well as those of whatever seasonings fit your fancy. This take calls for a salty-sweet broth of sake, honey, and tamari. Get the recipe here.

Miki Kawasaki is a New York City–based food writer and graduate of Boston University's program in Gastronomy. Few things excite her more than a well-crafted sandwich or expertly spiced curry. If you ever run into her at a dinner party, make sure to hit her up for a few pieces of oddball culinary trivia.

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