Effortless enough for everyday dinner and elegant enough for entertaining, colorful Sea Bass with Tomatoes in a Lemon-Butter Sauce will be your next go-to recipe.

Blue platter with Sea Bass and Tomatoes in a Lemon-Butter Sauce

Sea Bass Fish Recipe

A popular food pairing is fish and lemon-butter. The lemon juice brightens the fish’s natural flavor while balancing its brininess, and the butter – well, everything tastes better with butter!

What does Sea Bass taste like?

Sea bass has a mild, delicate (that is, not very “fishy” tasting) and slightly sweet flavor. It tends to be moist, buttery and tender with a flaky texture when cooked – and it’s one of my favorite fishes!

Are Sea Bass and Chilean Sea Bass the same?

Sea Bass is actually a somewhat generic name that applies to several different species of fish. Striped, black and barramundi (or Asian) sea bass are my favorite varieties, and they are all in the bass family. Chilean sea bass, while popular, is actually not a sea bass; it’s a clever rebranding of Patagonian Toothfish. It’s also tasty, but keep in mind it’s higher in mercury.

Do you eat the skin on sea bass?

The skin on sea bass is edible. And, I recommend leaving the skin on one side of a fillet when cooking, as it helps to hold it together. This fish is pretty flaky when cooked, so can fall apart fairly easily.

How to select the perfect Sea Bass Fish

Here’s a few tips on how to know your sea bass is fresh when buying fillets (which is what you’ll need for this recipe):

  • Smell it. Any fresh fish you purchase should smell fresh, clean and a bit like the ocean. If it smells fishy, it’s not fresh.
  • Poke it. The meat should be firm and springy, not soft, and any moisture on it should be clear, not cloudy. And, it shouldn’t be slimy feeling!
  • Look at it. It should be bright and smooth.

Best Way to Cook Sea Bass – 3 Methods

In my Sea Bass with Tomatoes in a Lemon-Butter Sauce recipe, I provide you with three different methods for preparing the sea bass, all three of which are super easy:

  1. Grilled
  2. Roasted
  3. In a Sous Vide. (Yes, I’m starting to include sous vide instructions on many of my recipe posts – this is the first!)

Grilled or Roasted Sea Bass

Cooking the fish with either my grilling or roasting method takes only around 10 minutes. While the fish is resting you make the Lemon-Butter Sauce. Melted butter is cooked just until it begins to brown; then you add lemon juice, capers, shallots, parsley and grape tomatoes. By the time the sauce is ready, the fish will be done resting and ready to serve – how easy is that!

How to Cook Sea Bass – Grilled

  1. Prep grill. Preheat grill to medium-high to high. Place a grilling rack or oiled foil on the grill.
  2. Prep fish. Brush both sides of the sea bass fillets with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on prepared rack (or foil).
  3. Grill. Place filets on preheated grill and cook for 10 minutes per 1-inch of thickness (at its thickest point), turning over halfway through cooking time.
  4. Rest. Remove fish from grill and let stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

How to Cook Sea Bass – Roasted

  1. Prep oven and pan. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a large shallow baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Prep fish. Brush both sides of the sea bass fillets with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Sear. Grease or spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over high heat. When hot (but not smoking), place the fillets, skin side down, in the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Flip fillets over and continue cooking for 1 minute or until golden brown.
  4. Roast. Place fillets, skin side down, in prepared baking dish in one layer. Roast in the oven, uncovered, 8 to 10 minutes per 1-inch of thickness (at its thickest point), until opaque and just cooked through.
  5. Rest. Remove fish from grill and let stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

When grilling or roasting, do you cook sea bass skin up or down?

When I grill sea bass for this recipe, I cook both sides of the fillet. This allows the fish to cook evenly, the skin to get crispy and the skinless side to have nice grill marks. Similarly, when roasting, I sear both sides before roasting, to provide a nice light brown color to the top and crisp up the skin. I then roast with the skin side down, leaving the prettier side up.

Blue platter with Sea Bass and Tomatoes in Lemon Butter Sauce

How to Cook Sea Bass – Sous Vide

The sous vide method takes a bit longer, because sous vide is a “slow and low” method of cooking. (Note: I use an Anova Sous Vide and I love it.) However, it guarantees that you won’t overcook the fish. Even if you leave it in the water longer than recommended, it will just stay warm and not keep cooking. It’s like magic!

  1. Prep fish and bag. Season fillets with salt and pepper. Place in a single layer in two vacuum-sealable bags, or in 2 zip top baggies. Divide olive oil between bags. Seal bags and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to overnight.
  2. Prep cooker. Preheat sous vide cooker to 130 degrees.
  3. Cook. Add sealed fillets to the water bath and cook for around 30 minutes per 1-inch of thickness (at its thickest point). I don’t recommend letting it cook beyond 45 minutes, otherwise the texture can change.
  4. Dry. Remove fillets from bags (they can fall apart, so do this step carefully!) and place on a paper towel; gently dry tops.
  5. Sear. Grease or spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over high heat. When hot (but not smoking), place the fillets, top (no skin) side down, in the pan and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. (Alternatively, you can grill the top side of the fillets on an oiled grill rack over high heat.)
  6. Rest. Let stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

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Blue platter with Sea Bass and Tomatoes in Lemon Butter Sauce

Sea Bass Recipe with Tomatoes in a Lemon-Butter Sauce

  • Author: (By Lee Clayton Roper)
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: fish, main dish, gluten free, easy entertaining

Description

Effortless enough for everyday dinner and elegant enough for entertaining, colorful Sea Bass with Tomatoes and Lemon-Butter Sauce will be your next go-to recipe!


Ingredients

Scale

Sea Bass

4 (5 to 6-ounce) sea bass fillets

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt, to taste

Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Tomatoes in Lemon-Butter Sauce

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup drained capers

3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots

1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley (can also use chopped fresh dill or basil)

1 pint (1 1/2 cups, or around 10 ounces) grape tomatoes, cut in half – see Note

Kosher salt, to taste

Fresh ground pepper, to taste


Instructions

Sea Bass – Grilled

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high to high. Place a grilling rack or oiled foil on the grill.
  2. Brush both sides of the sea bass fillets with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on rack (or foil) on preheated grill and cook for 10 minutes per 1-inch of thickness (at its thickest point), turning over halfway through cooking time.
  3. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Sea Bass – Roasted

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a large shallow baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Brush both sides of the sea bass fillets with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Grease or spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over high heat. When hot (but not smoking), place the fillets, skin side down, in the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Flip fillets over and continue cooking for 1 minute or until golden brown.
  4. Place fillets, skin side down, in prepared baking dish in one layer. Roast in the oven, uncovered, 8 to 10 minutes per 1-inch of thickness (at its thickest point), until opaque and just cooked through.
  5. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Sea Bass – Sous Vide

  1. Season sea bass fillets with salt and pepper. Place in a single layer in two vacuum-sealable bags, or in 2 zip top baggies. Divide olive oil between bags. Seal bags and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to overnight.
  2. Preheat sous vide cooker to 130 degrees.
  3. If using zip top baggies, remove all air from the bags (follow directions for your sous vide machine).
  4. Add sealed fillets to the water bath and cook for around 30 minutes per 1-inch of thickness (at its thickest point). I don’t recommend letting it cook beyond 45 minutes, otherwise the texture can change.
  5. Remove filets from bags (they can fall apart, so do this step carefully!) and place on a paper towel; gently dry tops.
  6. Grease or spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over high heat. When hot (but not smoking), place the fillets, top side down, in the pan and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes. (Alternatively, you can grill the top side of the fillets on an oiled grill rack over high heat.)

Tomatoes in Lemon-Butter Sauce

  1. After the fish is cooked and while it’s resting, prepare the sauce:
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat just until it starts to turn brown, around 3 to 4 minutes (best to do in a lighter-colored pan, so you can easily see the butter’s color).
  3. Reduce heat to low, stir in lemon juice, capers, shallots and parsley and let cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in tomatoes, increase heat to medium and cook just until tomatoes are heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon tomatoes and lemon-butter sauce over fish and serve immediately.


Notes

Note: a pint of grape tomatoes is a “dry pint,” so the equivalent in ounces is different than with a liquid pint. A dry pint is equal to around 10 ounces, or around 1 1/2 cups.

Lee Clayton Roper

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I’m Lee Clayton Roper, and I’m passionate about making cooking and entertaining easy, elegant and fun. Here you’ll find scrumptious recipes, helpful tips and seasonal menus that will spark inspiration in your kitchen!
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