This pan seared Chilean sea bass is flavored with a delicious Asian marinade of soy sauce, ginger, and mirin. It's perfectly pan seared until flaky and tender with an incredibly crispy skin! A delicious Asian sea bass flavored with soy ginger teriyaki marinade!
The best way to cook sea bass is to pan sear it until it gets a crispy, crackly skin with perfectly cooked, tender white flesh.
For this recipe I used a Chilean sea bass which is salt water fish with a firm, white, flakey flesh. Other varieties of sea bass that will work are Japanese sea bass, black and white sea bass, and Peruvian sea bass.
In fact, any fish would go great with this teriyaki style Asian marinade using ginger, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. Serve with this Spicy Asian Chimichurri Sauce for a herbaceous, fresh sauce that goes perfectly with Asian sea bass.
How to Select Sea Bass
- Package date - Look for one that's been packaged that same day. Ask your fishmonger what day of the week their shipment comes in for the freshest fish.
- Firm flesh - Feel the flesh by gently pressing down on it. It should feel firm, bounce back, and shouldn't break apart. Avoid ones that are mushy and soft.
- Smell - Fresh sea bass, like other fish, will have a fresh, ocean like smell and should not smell fishy at all.
- Fillets - If you're buying fillets, make sure it's scaled and de-boned. The skin should be intact in one piece without tears.
- Whole fish - For whole sea bass, check the eyes and gills. The eyes should be bright and clear and the gills should be red and moist looking.
How to Cook Sea Bass for Crispy Skin
- Pat skin dry - Before adding the marinade, pat the skin dry with a paper towel.
- Score the skin - Scoring the skin prevents it from curling up during the cooking process, ensuring flat, even contact with the cooking surface.
- Wipe off excess marinade - Scrape off any excess marinade before cooking to reduce steaming.
- Medium to medium low heat - I prefer slowly rendering out the fat in the skin until it gets crispy. This should be done on medium low heat to avoid burning the sugars in the marinade.
- Skin side down - Cook skin side down and don't flip it until the skin is very crispy.
- Don't cover the pan - Leave the pan uncovered the whole time to prevent steaming the sea bass.
- Plate skin side up - Keep the crispy skin facing up and avoid adding sauces on top which will softened up the skin.
- Sea bass fillets - I used Chilean sea bass but any white fish will work. Be sure it's scaled and deboned. Pat dry with a paper towel.
- Mirin - This is a Japanese cooking wine. Substitute with white wine.
- Mix all the ingredients for the soy ginger marinade together. Pat the sea bass dry and score the skin.
- Marinate the fish in a bowl covered with plastic wrap or a resealable plastic wrap. Let it marinate on the counter for 15 minutes.
- Heat a pan on medium to medium low heat and add a bit of oil. Wipe off excess marinade and cook the sea bass skin side down until crispy. The fat from the skin should render out, leaving a crackly, crispy skin. Flip over and finish cooking until it flakes apart.
- Serve your Asian sea bass immediately skin side up with sides of your choice.
Chilean sea bass is actually Patagonian toothfish that's found in cold waters in the southern hemisphere. Whereas Japanese sea bass (called suzuki) is found in waters in the Western Pacific. Chilean sea bass grows much larger than Japanese sea bass so expect to find smaller fillets when buying Japanese sea bass. Taste wise, they're both flakey white fish that can be used for this recipe.
Sea bass is a mild tasting fish with delicate, buttery flesh that's soft and tender. It does not taste fishy at all and has a slightly sweet, moderately rich flavor. It tastes similar to cod but with higher fat content.
Yes you can bake your sea bass! Bake it in a pre-heated 450°F or 232°C oven for 15 minutes or until done. Check for the flesh easily flaking apart.
Store leftovers in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Reheat over low heat in a toaster oven, oven, stovetop, or microwave. It's important not to overheat the fish as it can dry it out so keep the heat low. If using a microwave, set the power to low and check every 30 seconds.
What to serve with Asian sea bass:
Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass with Asian Marinade
- 4 6oz Chilean sea bass fillets - scaled and de-boned; total 1½ lbs (24 oz)
- 1 lemon - (optional), cut into wedges
- chopped fresh herbs - (optional) for garnish
- Prep: Prep the sea bass by patting it dry with a paper towel. Flip it skin side up and score the skin by making shallow cuts with a knife.
- Marinate: Add all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl or a resealable plastic bag. Add the sea bass and massage the marinade into the fish. Let it marinade on the counter for 15 minutes. See Note 1.
- Heat pan: Heat a non-stick pan over medium to medium low heat and add a bit of vegetable oil to the pan. See Note 2. Once the pan is heated, scrape off any excess marinade and place the fillets skin side down. Leave it alone until it starts sizzling and rendering out fat. Leave the pan uncovered. Lightly press down with the flat side of your spatula for a few seconds. Let the skin continue cooking until very crispy. Depending on thickness, times will vary. Mine took 4 to 5 minutes. Check halfway through and lower the heat if necessary to avoid burning the skin.
- Flip: Flip the fish and cook it skin side up until the flesh is opaque and easily flakes apart. Do not cover the pan with a lid as the steam will soften up the skin. See Note 3.
- Serve: Plate the sea bass crispy skin side up and serve immediately with lemon wedges and herbs.
✎ Recipe Notes
- Marinate - avoid marinating for longer than 20 minutes as the acid will start 'cooking' the fish. Marinate on counter to bring fish to room temperature to help with even cooking.
- Medium to medium low heat - Cooking fish skin side down on low to medium heat slowly renders out the fat, resulting in a crispy, crackly fish skin. Avoid raising the heat too high as it can cause the sugars in the marinade to burn and can result in overcooked fish. Crunchy fish skin needs to be cooked low and slow.
- Cooking time depends on the thickness of your fillet. My fillets were 2.5 inches at its thickest and took 5 to 6 more minutes after flipping until fully cooked, for a total of 9 to 10 minutes of cooking time on medium low heat.
Want to bake it instead?
- Bake a pre-heated 425°F oven for 15 minutes or until done. Check for flesh easily flaking apart. If it starts to burn, loosely cover with foil.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Reheat over low heat in a toaster oven, oven, stovetop, or microwave. It's important not to overheat the fish as it can dry it out so keep the heat low. If using a microwave, set the power to low and check every 30 seconds.
⇒See post above for How to Select Sea Bass and How to Cook Sea Bass for Crispy Skin.
*Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools.