Sea bass is a versatile fish with a mildly sweet flavor and is usually cooked whole or as a fillet. The fish is becoming increasingly popular and is one of the most popular fish in the Netherlands. Fresh sea bass from the fishmonger is the best.
What kind of fish is sea bass?
Sea bass are bony fish, they have a well-developed skeleton that is completely ossified. The body is streamlined with a gray, silvery back and white belly. They have large regular scales and a spiny dorsal fin.
They can live up to 25 years. They spawn in the open sea, close to the coast. Sea bass are carnivores and their diet consists mainly of shrimp, crabs, fish and squid. A diet that gives the fish its good flavor.
Where does the sea bass come from?
Sea bass is found in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean, from northern Scandinavia to Morocco and Senegal in the south. Due to changes in the climate, the northern border of the habitat is shifting more and more to the north.
Both wild and farmed sea bass are available. Breeding mainly takes place in open cages in the southern countries around the Mediterranean Sea, such as Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Spain and Israel.
Because this fish is farmed, you can now buy it all year round. The fish must be at least 36 cm long to be sold.
The wild and farmed sea bass differ from each other. The farmed sea bass has firmer and fatter meat compared to the wild sea bass. The flavor is also different.
In addition, you can see differences in appearance. The wild bass have larger scales and are bright silver in color, while the farmed fish have duller skin and blunted fins.
How does sea bass taste?
The flavor of sea bass is sweet and mild with a fine structure. The fish has firm white meat with few bones. It’s a highly prized fish in many countries. Sea bass belongs to the moderately oily fish species and contains vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids.
Is sea bass healthy?
Sea bass is a lean fish, but it’s high in protein and low in fat and calories. That’s why this fish is perfect for a healthy lifestyle, as long as you alternate with oily fish from time to time.
Sea bass contains omega-3 fatty acids, which protect you against cardiovascular disease. The fish is also packed with vitamins such as vitamins A, B, C and D and minerals such as potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. Among other things, they ensure a good condition of your bones, skin and hair and protect your nervous system and immune system.
Which wine goes with it?
You can pair sea bass with a light, dry and clear white wine. A Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Grüner Veltiner or Pinot Grigio is perfect. If you cook sea bass well seasoned in the oven or on the grill, a red wine also goes very well with it.
How to cook sea bass?
The meat of the sea bass is firm and tasty. You can buy it and cook the small fish whole. Larger fish are available filleted, usually with skin. The skin ensures that the fish does not fall apart during frying.
Below you can read how you can easily clean and fillet the fish yourself and then cook it deliciously.
How do you clean the fish?
When you are going to cook the sea bass in its entirety:
- Cut off the fins and then descale the fish. You can use a scale knife for this.
- After descaling, cut open the belly from the end of the abdomen to the head.
- The organs are attached to the head. Cut them loose and remove them.
- When cleaning, try not to damage the liver and bile, otherwise the fish meat will have a bitter taste.
- Rinse the fish under cold water and pat dry with kitchen paper.
- You can now cook the fish whole, or you can fillet the fish.
How do you fillet the fish?
You fillet sea bass from head to tail from the back:
- First cut the fish diagonally behind the head.
- Follow the thick spine from the head with the tip of your knife. Let the knife go flat over this. Cut through to the tail.
- Then cut the fillet loose, again from head to tail.
- Fillet the other side of the fish in the same way.
- Remove the bones with bone tweezers.
How do you cook the fish?
You can cook sea bass in many ways, such as frying, stewing, grilling and poaching. A classic cooking method is sea bass in a salt crust.
The fish combines very well with various herbs such as rosemary, dill, thyme and oregano. Fresh herbs such as lemon and garlic make the fish even tastier. Because the sea bass is a delicate fish with a pure flavor, it’s better not to use strong aromas when cooking it.
The cooking time depends on the thickness of the fish and the recipe.
In a pan (whole sea bass)
If you want to fry a sea bass in its entirety, you do this at a medium temperature.
- Rinse the fish well and pat it dry with kitchen paper.
- Make slits all over the fish with a sharp knife.
- Season it with salt and pepper and rub well into the indentations.
- Put herbs such as sage, rosemary and oregano in the belly of the fish.
- Melt some butter in a large skillet and add some olive oil.
- Place the fish in the pan and fry it on both sides for 10 minutes. So that’s 20 minutes in total.
In a pan (fillets)
If you want to fry a sea bass fillet, do this at a medium temperature.
- Pat the fillets dry with kitchen paper and season with salt and pepper.
- Add some lemon juice and let the fillets sit for a while.
- Heat some butter or olive oil in a frying pan.
- Place the fillets skin-side down in the pan.
- Fry them for 4 to 6 minutes until browned and done.
- Carefully flip them halfway through with a spatula.
- The sea bass is ready when it is white in color.
In the oven
If you want to cook a whole sea bass in the oven, you do this at a medium temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
- Rinse the fish under running water and pat it dry with kitchen paper.
- Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking tray and place the sea bass on it.
- Stuff the belly with lemon slices, garlic and a few sprigs of rosemary
- Brush the fish with a little olive oil.
- Season the fish with some sea salt and coarse pepper.
- Let the sea bass cook in the oven for about 30 minutes.
Grilling on the barbecue
If you’re grilling a whole sea bass on the barbecue, make sure the coals are hot. If not, the skin of the fish may sink through the grill and it will be difficult to flip it.
- Cut the fish open and put some sprigs of rosemary and slices of lemon in it.
- Season the outside with plenty of salt and pepper.
- Place the sea bass in the center of the grill directly over the hot coals. You can also use a fish clamp for convenience.
- Grill the fish for 7 to 10 minutes on both sides.
- The fish is done when the skin begins to peel off.
Recipe: Grilled sea bass with a herb vinaigrette
Grilled sea bass with an herb vinaigrette
- 1 sea bass cleaned
- 3 slices lemon
- 3 slices lime
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp rosemary
- 1 tsp pepper
- lemon juice
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 100 ml olive oil
- 1 tsp chives
- 1 tsp tarragon
- 1 tsp parsley
- Put the mustard and white wine vinegar in a bowl and add a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Gradually whisk in the oil while pouring it in a thin stream. The sauce should thicken a bit. Then whisk in the lemon juice and chives, tarragon and parsley.
Preparing the sea bass
- Rinse the sea bass under cold water and pat it dry with kitchen paper. Sprinkle the inside of the abdominal cavity with some salt and pepper.
- Now we are going to fill the sea bass. Divide the slices of lemon and lime in the abdominal cavity. Also add the sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Tie the sea bass with the twine.
- Heat three tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the crushed garlic. Also add the rosemary and pepper. Make sure the garlic doesn’t turn black. The baste is ready when the garlic turns brown.
- Put the baste in a bowl and add some lemon juice.
Grilling the sea bass
- Prepare the barbecue for direct grilling. Maintain a temperature of about 250 °C.
- Spread the baste with a brush on both sides of the sea bass. Also sprinkle the sea bass with some salt. Place the sea bass on the barbecue and grill both sides for 5 minutes until they are nicely browned. The fish is ready when it feels firm to the touch.
- Remove the sea bass from the barbecue and drizzle it with the vinaigrette.
Looking for more inspiration? Then see below more recipes with sea bass. Or check our fish recipes for even more inspiration.