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Recipe: grilled chilean sea bass

My energy levels have been wildly sinusoidal this week. After seven weeks of nuking my boob, my radiation treatment seems to have finally caught up with me. I held out for quite a long time, so I’m pretty happy that radiation wasn’t worse. I have sporadic pain which isn’t so bad, and then there is the sudden fatigue which comes on in seconds with no warning. That is more annoying than anything else and it has been forcing me to take full advantage of any time I am feeling good and alert.

The downside of feeling good was yesterday afternoon when I left radiation… I went to Whole Paycheck Foods to have a look at their seafood counter. I should have realized I was setting myself up. I was high energy and the brain began to think of things to eat this weekend. Yummy, delicious, wonderful things to eat. Since we were at Whole Foods, let’s make that yummy, delicious, wonderful, expensive things to eat.

How about those scallops.
Anything else, ma’am?
And some shrimp.
What else can I get for you?
I like that wild Yakutat Sockeye salmon…

Then I saw the Chilean sea bass. Ever since I began shopping for seafood, Chilean sea bass has been a no-no in my book. Don’t buy. It’s overfished. But I knew that Whole Foods had been carrying Chilean sea bass for the past year or more and they wouldn’t do this unless it checked out with their requirement for offering sustainable seafood to customers. In fact, they get their Chilean sea bass from a supplier who is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. I went for it. I had never prepared Chilean sea bass and probably had it once or twice over a decade ago. I know people balk at the cost of say, organic beef tenderloin from Whole Foods, but they ought to step over to the fish counter some time if they want to get their panties in a wad. The total on my grocery bill would have been more fitting for a receipt of 20 items rather than 6, but the seafood is worth it.

just a little bit of lemon

How to prepare the sea bass? I grew up eating seafood, lots and lots of fantastic seafood (the state tourism board likes to say Virginia is for lovers, but I like to think it is for seafood lovers). My favorite way to eat fish is obviously raw, as in sushi and sashimi. My second favorite way to eat fish is cooked simply. That means no crazy sauces or heavy marinades. I actually enjoy tasting the fish itself because fresh fish carries the show all on its own. When I unwrapped the fish at home, it smelled like seawater – fresh seawater. Bonus. I like a little lemon with my fish – not too much. So I let the sea bass sit in some lemon for about 20 minutes. Enough to accent the fish, but not enough to taste like lemon or to start cooking the flesh.

salt, pepper, olive oil

I patted the fillet dry and sprinkled some salt, freshly ground pepper, and olive oil over it. Tossed it into my fish basket and set it upon the grill where the veggies were already hanging out. My greatest nightmare when it comes to cooking seafood is that I will screw it up because seafood is delicate and really ass expensive around here. I’d much rather undercook it (which is easy to remedy) than overcook it (which I believe is a felony).

lookin’ good: crispy edges, juicy flesh

Eight minutes in total was just right for us. The edges browned so nicely. When Jeremy flipped the fish on the grill, the juices poured out onto the flame and caught fire. Fat. Delicious, lovely fat. That’s why the sea bass is so amazingly tender and full of flavor. It has a juicy flake more akin to grouper and an almost buttery taste. Oooooh hooo hooo!!! Let the love affair begin. I feel as if a new door has been opened for me, and behind that door is a sexay piece of Chilean sea bass.

the star of a grilled dinner

Grilled Chilean Sea Bass
[print recipe]

1 lb. Chilean sea bass, fillet
1 lemon, juice of
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 tbsps olive oil

Set the fish in a container with the lemon juice for ten minutes. Flip the fish and let sit for another ten minutes. Pat the fillet dry and rub with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Place fillet in an oiled fish basket and grill on high heat for about 4 minutes. Flip the fish and grill for another 3 minutes (depends on thickness of the fish). Serve immediately.

39 nibbles at “access granted”

  1. matt says:

    You make me ashamed to live near the water ( sydney australia) we are lucky to have fish once a fortnight and its so close and cheap (relatively speaking), :(. That looks delecious, and what sort of veggies are they? zuchinni?

  2. Bridget says:

    Oh, the new lens is making a showing. Very cool picture of a lemon.

    I’ve only been to one Whole Foods, and the fish counter smelled very fishy both times I went. I wasn’t impressed. But there is an awesome fish market near me, so I should ask them about their views on sustainability and such. I’m pretty sure I’ve never had Chilean sea bass, but I’d like to try it.

  3. Lezel Safi says:

    Oklahoma is so backwards sometimes and I am insanely jealous that we can’t spend our hard earned dollars on beautiful, albeit expensive, foods at Whole Foods….I heard it has to do with our stupid legislature and our even stupider liquor laws, oh well….that fish makes me excited to head to the beach in less than 2 weeks! I’ll be gettin’ my hands on some fish there….!

  4. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says:

    That lemon shot! Gorgeous. Not to mention the fish and the veggies. So very summer.

  5. Anh says:

    Hope you are oh well! I thoroughly enjoy this post. The photos are beautiful, and all do I have to tell you that I love simple grilled fish like this? Have never tried this type of fish but I am sure it is delicious!

  6. manggy says:

    “Hi, I just want to be absolutely sure, does the Chilean seabass meet the standards for sustainable fishing?”
    “Yeah lady, ya want one?!”
    Oops… I had been imagining some non-Colorado state, hee :) Although it’s served in restaurants here, I don’t think I have ever spotted CSB… Will have to check it out. (You’ll read about one of my fish woes in the next post ;) You want to know how they manage to keep it smelling like seawater? Buckets and buckets of seawater. Kidding! I don’t think you can fake that, haha! I’m impressed they were able to maintain such freshness in your landlocked state. Excellent. Also excellent? Your grilled CSB. Me so hungry all of a sudden.
    I know I keep saying this but I hope the adverse radiation effects wear off soon :)

  7. Cynthia says:

    I love fish, but I just have not mastered the best way to cook it. I am going to try this. What fish substitution would you suggest since I doubt I will find good Chilean here in Provo? Probably a mild white fish for my family…. I have not had my boob cooked to death,(as you hillariously said) but I did have mono, pneumonia and morning sickness at the same time once. Watch Robin Hood by Disney, you will feel better at once.

  8. White On Rice Couple says:

    I gasped when I saw the words…Chilean Sea Bass. But if it is certified, it’s all good. And it would make sense too, being that a big company like Whole Paycheck should stick behind their sustainable, earth friendly motto.
    It looks really good Jen. You certainly are the Madame of grilling.
    The bouts of fatigue that you experience just wears me out thinking about it. You damn well deserve to treat yourself to some great fish!

  9. Rosa says:

    A wonderful way to prepare fish! Simple, but highly scrumptious!

    All the best and cheers,


  10. Nicisme says:

    That looks very nice indeed! I love the lemon photo.

  11. Laura @ HungryAndFrozen says:

    I’ve never had bass before but…it looks intensely good. You certainly make the most of *right now* wish I had a bit more of that going on! Amazing photography as per usual :)

  12. Mollie says:

    Gotta love you some sexy piece of bass…. :)

  13. d hekkala says:

    chilean seabass was not so popular back when it was the lowly patigonian tooth fish!!

  14. Christina says:

    The lemon shot is incredible! Simple recipes really are just as great as complicated onces, which I think is something we often forget.

    “I caught you a delicious bass!” lol, I can’t get enough of Napoleon Dynamite!

  15. Susan at Stickygooeycreamychewy says:

    Ooooh! I am lemming that sea bass right now! It looks to die for! Just perfect!

    I can certainly relate about Whole Foods! I tend to go a little berserk there. I think that Chilean sea bass is probably one of my all time favorite kinds of fish. It is wonderful and totally worth the $25/pound it fetches. Unfortunately, at that price I can’t justify buying it that often. When I do, I like to fix it just like you do – plain and simple. Sometimes, I bake it with sauteed fennel and onions. That is pretty great too. I’ve done it with a sweet miso glaze before too. Heaven on Earth! I’d better stop now. I’m getting a craving and I already have chicken marinating. ;)

  16. Leah says:

    I love your blog. A lot. I love your photos. You make me want to cook and take fabulous photos. You’re also funny, which makes reading your blog oh so enjoyable. You’re definitely my new food blog addiction.

  17. Kristen says:

    LOL about Whole Foods/Paycheck.
    That lemon photo is amazing… all of your photos are great, but that one totally caught my eye.
    Love your blog!

  18. Tartelette says:

    I only get CSB when my parents are visiting and taking me grocery shopping :) I love it…I could pass dessert for CSB..crazy I know! I like it simple too with some olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper and a little diced tomato.
    Bill says we are “lucky” that Whole Paycheck is all the way across town. Charleston is very similar to NYC so we would be in Staten Island and WF would be in Brooklyn and I don’t really trust our bridges. “Half Paycheck” is however closer :)

  19. Mrs Ergul says:

    I totally know what you mean about fish being delicate! I hate it when I overcook it. It’s a sad irreversible process… Your grilled fish looks awesome! I don’t think anyone wouldn’t love to have some!

  20. Pook says:

    Oh, just look at your pictures make my mouth watering.

  21. Alexa says:

    Such a gorgeous dinner… The simple things are often the best. Thanks for sharing those beautiful pictures.

  22. jenyu says:

    Matt – oooh, if I lived in Sydney, I’d eat seafood every day! I love the Balmain Bugs! :) The vegetables are grilled zucchini (tossed with salt, pepper, olive oil – then grilled), and chili-lime grilled corn.

    Bridget – Whole Foods will vary from store to store. The one is Boulder definitely strives to meet the high standards of the local residents. If only we had a Trader Joes :( Even if the fish counter smells fishy, I would ask to sniff the fish itself – that is going to be the true test of freshness.

    Lezel – we too have stupid liquor laws too! Hope you get your seafood fix :)

    Kristin – thanks!

    Anh – yes, simple is so wonderful, isn’t it?

    Mark – thanks sweetie. I think the fatigue will come and go for another week at least. But this is my last week of treatments -w00t! Believe it or not, fish is flown in daily to Boulder… spoiled (and somewhat wealthy?) population ;)

    Cynthia – mmm, perhaps grouper? or maybe even halibut? salmon will work too, but the flavor will be totally different. have fun with it!

    WoRC – I’m a grilling fool lately. Too hot to cook indoors lately. Yup – I’m treating myself to visiting YOU guys soon!! :) xxoo

    Rosa – thank you, love.

    Nicisme – thanks!

    Laura – We’ll have to remedy that, eh? Well, I have no doubt you can find some delightful fish in your part of the world – you live in an island nation! :) Loved the green lip mussels when I was in NZ!!

    Mollie – ha ha!!! Oh, that is a HOOT, you cheeky girl!

    d hekkala – that’s what I heard! I rather like the name patagonian tooth fish :) more romantic images in my mind.

    Christina – I totally love simple recipes, especially when I’m cooking them, har har!

    Susan – Yes, what is it about Whole Foods that makes us go nuts and want to buy everything? If my local Safeway charged that much for certain foods I’d walk out all indignant ;) And yeah, we don’t Whole Foods too often because we actually like the house we live in ;) ha ha ha.

    Leah – aw, you are very sweet. I’m glad you enjoy the blog!

    Kristen – thank you!

    Tartelette – me too! If I had access to decent (home grown) tomatoes, I’d be all over that :) What is Half Paycheck?? I love our Whole Foods because their offerings are some of the best in Boulder, but… if a Trader Joes opened in Boulder, I would single-handedly keep that store in business! :)

    Mrs. E – I’ve done it before. It is sad-making :( Luckily, I think I’ve learned enough stop screwing up fish! hee hee.

    Pook – :)

    Alexa – thanks! And I totally agree that simple is so delightful!

  23. Patricia Scarpin says:

    My absolute favorite way of having fish, Jen. Simple and delicious!

  24. Nate says:

    I grill fish by laying down a sheet of foil on the grates. Don’t want to take the chance of any fish sticking to the grill or (shudder) falling between the grates. It prevents flare-ups because no flame gets to the fish. True, the grill marks aren’t as pronounced but at least I don’t lose any fish in the process.

  25. Lemon drop. « FP Daily says:

    […] 2008, 1:52 am Filed under: Use Real Butter | Tags: close-up, lemony, when life hands you lemons… A little bit of lemon for Use Real Butter’s Chilean sea bass. No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed […]

  26. Tony says:

    Jen, I also think the same way about Chilean Sea Bass, but I won’t lie when I say that I also liked your argument for buying it at WF : )
    Oh, and on a random note: how did you get over your Wegmans withdrawal (if you ever had one?)… It’s been slightly over 2 months now and I still find myself missing the Wegmans in Ithaca : (

  27. jenyu says:

    Patricia – hear hear!

    Nate – Oh, I highly recommend using a fish basket. Grilling over foil tends to steam the fish when the juices flow out. With a grill basket, they get the benefit of direct flame, but the fish doesn’t fall apart and the basket makes it so easy to flip the fish! Try it! :)

    Tony – I do miss Wegmans. They are awesome. However, when I moved back to So Cal, I had Trader Joes and Whole Foods to sort of make up for it :)

  28. Robert says:

    Who manufactures that particular grilling basket that you have pictured there?

  29. jenyu says:

    Robert – oh geez, I got that over 10 years ago at Williams-Sonoma. Not sure they carry it anymore (although it’s probably available at any major cooking supply store like CHEFS or Sur La Table).

  30. Tom says:

    Never have I bothered to comment on a recipe. Ever. But i got such a kick out of yours. First, my little sis is battling breast cancer. I am touched by your candor and transparency and sense of humor. Nancy is much the same. I wish you well, and will pray for you. Your description of the whole (and Whole Foods) experience is a hoot. You made me laugh…and got me eager to get to the kitchen. And of course…the sea bass sounds and looks amazing. The wine is chillin’…its been a long week. Just me and my gal (wife of 31 years). Can’t wait….Thank you very much.

  31. jenyu says:

    Tom – I hope she comes out of it with flying colors. I really really do. Thanks and all the best to you and your loved ones :)

  32. Liz says:

    Great recipe. I cooked Chilean sea bass for my first time today… I could not believe the yummy butter taste with no butter having been added. I do have a question about your grilling recipe… Did you remove the skin from the bottom before you put it into the basket? Dumb question I know but I am a rookie. Thanks!!

  33. jenyu says:

    Liz – I actually cook with the skin on (so the fish doesn’t fall apart during grilling). Not a dumb question at all!! :)

  34. Ted and Cindi says:

    We just finished dinner. Followed your cooking instructions exactly (except cooked a minute longer on each side due to the thickness of the meat) and it was absolutely perfect. Thanks, Liz.

  35. Its ma birfday says:

    So, as the name says, it’s my b’day! No one in the house like fish, so I never get to eat it unless in a restaurant. Chilean Sea Bass is my all time fav, so…this year no one’s home for dinner!! Never been so happy (that sound wierd??)! Stopped on the way home, picked up a 1 lb. fillet, and a nice bottle of wine. Took out a batch of homemade creamed spinach that I froze last week. Puttin’ that puppy on the grill after it sits in some lemon juice as instructed by madam (a celebratory apple martini makes the 20 minutes pass nicely!). Happy freakin’ birfday to muah!! BTW – I don’t comment on blogs. I really like the way you write, the pics are great as everyone says, and I love simple grilled food. So, thank you, and good luck with everything. Remember, party naked, and eat good food. How can you not be haopy??!

  36. GMAN says:

    Ah yes, the Patagonian toothfish. I love this fish! Man, will you be disappointed when you get a real Chilean seabass!!!!

  37. taji Veronica Teniel Soto says:

    I have been through! Thank-you for having the strength to share.I was born in NYC N Y.I was raisedio
    In Trinidad and Tobago. Grilling was fabulous!!!
    Grilling Eas

  38. Drew says:

    Hi Jen, I searched grilled fish recipes of yours and found this.
    Do you know where to buy individual fish grill baskets? There are only two on amazon. One has no reviews and the other has a lot of bad reviews. Same as Home Depot.
    Thank you! :)

  39. jenyu says:

    Drew – The fish grill basket one I use in this post (and still use today) came from Williams-Sonoma 20 years ago. I don’t know if they carry them anymore, but I see a few on ebay. Good luck!

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