Chilean Sea Bass a la Veracruzana
Decades ago, I prepared Chilean Sea Bass a la Veracruzana at our home for an important business dinner party for 14 colleagues. The meal turned out to be a super success. But not because I was a stellar cook back then, but because rich, melt-in-the-mouth Chilean Sea Bass aka Patagonian Toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) is simply delicious and almost impossible to overcook due to its flesh high fat content.
The pan sauce was a heavenly combination of olive oil, fish juices, lime juices, chicken stock, garlic, bay and oregano. The tomatoes, olives, capers, and jalapeño complemented the fish with flavors from the Mediterranean along with a Mexican-style pizzazz.
Prior to the 1990s, we had never heard of Chilean Sea Bass. But once it started showing up on restaurant menus, it became a culinary darling. Thanks to that and basically good ol’ luck, I chose Sea Bass Veracruz for my evening’s main course…
Ha! Well, now with many years of cooking under my toque, guess what? My recipe is not much different than the one from a long time ago.
Populations went from sustainable, to overfished, and now back to sustainable again according to the Marine Stewardship Council. And although the fish I am using is called “Chilean” it is actually a product of Australia, fished in the Southern Ocean. It has met the global standard for sustainability where there are enough fish left in the sea to reproduce indefinitely.
So it’s high time to resurrect that Sea Bass Veracruz recipe!
Sea Bass Veracruz Recipe
Tomato Olive Mixture:
- grape tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
- green olives, halved
- jalapeño – thinly sliced
- generous amount of fresh lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Chilean Sea Bass:
- sea bass fillets
- coarse sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
- olive oil
- bay leaves
- chicken stock
Let fish fillets come close to room temperature. Pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour, shake off excess.
Cook fish in a glug of olive oil with a few bay leaves in a non-stick skillet over medium to medium-high heat until golden brown on both sides. Then add about 1/3 cup of chicken stock (or more stock for several fillets) and continue to cook until the sea bass is cooked through and hot in the middle. Adjust heat as necessary. Do not flip the fish again.
Baste the sea bass once with the pan juices, then remove fish to a platter and keep warm.
- garlic, minced
- dried mexican oregano
- lime wedges
Add garlic and dried oregano to the juices in the skillet. Cook for another minute. Then discard the bay leaves. Add tomato olive mixture with juices, and heat until just warmed through.
Pour tomato olive mixture and all the juices onto a platter. Place sea bass in the middle. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges.