Pan-Roasted Sea Bass

Sea bass is my most indulgent seafood choice. I typically only order it at a fancy seafood joint when someone else is paying. It’s so rich and buttery tasting it practically melts in your mouth when you eat it. Fortunately, Costco offers a somewhat more affordable option for buying seafood. You can get a large amount of fish for the same amount you would pay for one teeny tiny fillet at a fancy restaurant. So while you are still departing with a lot of money, you’re getting more bang for your buck.

I have this tendency of buying more food than is necessary for one person and this is especially true while I’m at Costco. I’m especially tantalized by a good sale so often I walk into Costco planning on buying three things and walk out with a cartful of items, $150 lighter.

My freezer is chock full of various Costco sale food items (chicken patties, wontons, dumplings, tri-tip, personal sized pizza), dog food, and various pints or gallons of ice cream. As I was stuffing a large order of dog food into my freezer the other day, I uncovered a package of sea bass I had forgotten about, and it felt like Christmas morning. I had been wanting to recreate Marsala Wine Mashed Potatoes, and I thought sea bass would be the perfect accompaniment.

My recipe below is gently adapted from the recipe for Pan-Roasted Fish Fillets with Herb Butter at NYT Cooking. I loosely followed the directions and eye-balled the ingredients. I also turned my fish over a few more times than what was called for in the original recipe–my fillet was a bit thicker than what the recipe calls for. I served this fish on a bed of Marsala Wine Mashed Potatoes; the two paired perfectly together because both melt in your mouth. This recipe is a relatively easy and delicious way to eat restaurant-worthy sea bass in the comfort of your own home and for a fraction of the price.


  • 2 5- to 6-oz or 1 10- to 12-oz Chilean sea bass fish fillets, 1-inch or so thick
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 3 T. canola, avocado or safflower oil
  • 2 to 4 T. butter
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (can sub tarragon, chives or any other herb)
  • ½ c. dry white wine (optional)


  1. Allow fish to sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes. Pat fish dry with a paper towel. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a heavy 10-inch nonstick or cast-iron skillet over high heat. When the pan is hot, add the oil. Place the fish in the pan, skin side down (if applicable). If fillets have skin, press down gently with a spatula for about 20 seconds to prevent curling.
  3. Lower heat to medium, add wine (if using) and let sizzle until fish is golden and caramelized around edges and wine has evaporated, about 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully flip fish and add butter and thyme to pan. Allow butter to melt and thyme to lightly cook in the butter. Tilt pan slightly to let the melted butter pool at one end. Use a spoon to baste the fish with the pooled butter. Continue basting until golden all over and cooked through. Here I flipped my fish over a few times.
  4. Serve immediately. Top with butter from the pan and additional fresh thyme (or parsley) and lemon wedges.

Recipe rating: 

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