This tender, juicy, & flavorful pan seared Chilean Sea Bass recipe is smothered in lemon caper butter and seared to perfection. An easy, delicious, 20-minute meal that brings elevated dining right to your home kitchen! 

crispy pan seared white fish on a white plate with lemon caper sauce and a gold fork with a bit of fish on it

What Makes This Recipe Great

This dish is fancy and beautiful without any of the work! The brininess from the capers and richness of the butter is the perfect compliment to this mild, flaky fish. Pan-seared to create a deliciously crispy skin, every bite is melt-in-your-mouth good!

Served over a creamy garlic cauliflower mash, this low-carb, gluten-free dish is one you won’t forget!

Recipe Highlights

  • A quick, easy 20-minute recipe. 
  • Whole30, Paleo, Keto, Dairy-Free, and Gluten-Free.
  • Minimal prep & easy cleanup!
  • Requires just one skillet!
  • Crispy, pan-seared, flaky, delicious, & healthy fish- need I say more?!
Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass with Lemon Caper Butter on a serving dish

What is Chilean Sea Bass?

Chilean sea bass is actually a nickname for the Patagonian Toothfish. This fish becomes oil rich in the cold waters of Antarctica which makes it a delicious fish to cook and eat. 

One interesting fact is that while it is a white fish similar to bass, it’s not actually sea bass at all! It can be quite pricey, but it’s absolutely worth the splurge!

Ingredient Notes

ingredients for this recipe in nesting bowls and labeled
  • Chilean Sea Bass fillets:  I’ve got these at Whole Foods fresh, and at Wegmans frozen. Either way will work! Just be sure to follow the tips below to choose the freshest fish. 
  • Ghee: If you’re not dairy-free, feel free to use regular butter. If you have a dairy allergy or don’t prefer ghee, use vegan butter like Miyokos or Earth Balance. 
  • Avocado Oil: You can also use olive oil, just keep in mind that it may cause some smoke in your kitchen! Avocado oil is a better choice due to the high smoke point.
  • Lemon: You’ll need the juice from ½ of a lemon. I think fresh lemon juice works best!
  • Capers: You can find a small jar at the grocery store- you’ll just need 2 tbsp for this recipe!

Recipe Step by Step

four quadrants showing the step by step of how to make this recipe
  1. Pat your sea bass fillets dry and coat on both sides with 1 tbsp avocado oil. Sprinkle the fillets with salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat your oven to 425. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp avocado oil in a cast iron (or another oven-safe skillet) over medium-high heat. When the pan is nice and hot, add the fillets, with the skin side down (if they have skin). Let them cook, untouched, for 5 mins. Flip and cook for an additional 5 minutes. It helps to use a metal spatula to prevent the bottom of the fish from sticking to the pan!
  3. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for an additional 5 minutes. The fish should flake easily with a fork at this point.
  4. Melt the ghee (or vegan butter) in a saucepan on the stove, or in the microwave. Stir in the lemon juice and capers. Serve the fish over some cauliflower mash and spoon some of the lemon butter caper sauce over top. Enjoy!
a silver spoon drizzling lemon caper butter over a piece of Chilean sea bass on a white plate

How to Serve this Recipe

You can serve this fish over my easy Instant Pot Risotto with Peas, your favorite pasta, or mashed potatoes! The lemon caper butter is amazing on so many things, so if you have any extra sauce save it for another dish!

I also love serving this sea bass recipe with my creamy garlic cauliflower mash. It’s a quick and easy recipe that will win you over in no time! 

The Perfect Side: Creamy Garlic Cauliflower Mash

Ingredients 

  • Frozen Cauliflower: I like to get the family-size pack from Wegman’s. 
  • Chicken Broth: You can also use chicken stock or bone broth- whatever you have on hand. 
  • Ghee: If you’re not dairy-free, feel free to use regular butter. If you have a dairy allergy or don’t prefer ghee, use vegan butter like Miyokos or Earth Balance. 
  • Coconut Cream: You can also use just the thick part from a can of coconut milk. I love the Thai Kitchen brand.
  • Garlic Powder: You can also use fresh garlic cloves if you prefer!

Steps

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the frozen cauliflower. Cook it for 10-15 minutes until you can easily pierce the florets with a fork. 
  2. Drain the cauliflower really well and return it to the pot. Add in the chicken broth, coconut milk, garlic powder, and salt. 
  3. Use an immersion blender (or regular blender or food processor) to blend up the cauliflower until very thick and creamy.
top view of Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass with Lemon Caper Butter on a serving dish

Mary’s Tips & Tricks

Equipment: I used a 10.25-inch Lodge cast iron skillet to make this fish! I love this pan so much and use it for everything. It effortlessly moves from stovetop to oven and cooks evenly! This fish spatula is also super helpful! Makes it super easy to flip the fish!

Storage: Store leftover fish in an airtight container with the lemon caper sauce in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat and serve with garlic cauliflower mash or one of your favorite sides!

Dairy-Free: If you need this sea bass recipe to be completely dairy-free, use vegan butter like Miyokos, which is one of my favorites. Otherwise, feel free to use ghee, or regular butter if you prefer. 

Fish Substitution: If you want to substitute the Chilean Sea Bass for another type of fish, I recommend using cod or a mild, flaky white fish of your choice. You can pan-sear the fish following the same instructions, and it will pair perfectly with the lemon caper sauce and garlic cauliflower mash!

closeup of pan seared fish on top of cauliflower mash

Recipe FAQs

How do I know when the sea bass is done cooking?

Chilean Sea Bass is a difficult fish to overcook, however, there’s one thing you can watch out for that will signal when the fish is done cooking. Once the fish becomes flaky, remove it from heat immediately and serve!

Can I freeze this sea bass recipe?

Yes! Freeze in an airtight container with the sauce for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and reheat over the stove to get the outer layers crisp

How do you pick the best, freshest Chilean Sea Bass?

There are a couple of tricks to ensure you are picking the very best fish. But when in doubt, frozen sea bass fillets are an excellent option because they are frozen at peak freshness and cook very nicely. If you’re choosing fresh fish, the two things to look out for are color and smell. The fillets should have no discoloration or spots, and should not have a super fishy smell. If either of these is present, the fish is not fresh. 

Is this recipe keto-friendly?

Yes! This sea bass recipe is Dairy-Free, Whole30, Paleo, Keto, and Gluten-Free. With only 262 calories and 0 net carbs per serving, this is an excellent low-calorie, low-carb, and healthy option! Keep in mind that the nutrition facts are for the fish and sauce only. Depending on the sides you serve, that will increase your calorie and carb counts. 

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Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass Recipe

This tender, juicy, & flavorful pan seared Chilean Sea Bass recipe is smothered in lemon caper butter and seared to perfection. An easy, delicious, 20-minute meal that brings elevated dining right to your home kitchen! 
4.96 from 50 votes
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Ingredients

  • 2 6 oz Chilean Sea Bass fillets, thawed if previously frozen
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp ghee, vegan butter, or regular butter
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp capers

Optional Creamy Garlic Cauliflower Mash

  • 32 oz frozen cauliflower, or fresh florets
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup Ghee or vegan butter
  • ¼ cup full fat coconut cream, just the thick part from a can of coconut milk
  • 1 tsp sea salt, more to taste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Pat your sea bass fillets dry and coat on both sides with 1 tbsp avocado oil. Sprinkle the fillets with salt and pepper.
  • Preheat your oven to 425. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp avocado oil in a cast iron (or other oven-safe skillet) over medium high heat. When the pan is nice and hot, add the fillets skin side down (if they have skin). Let them cook, untouched, for 5 mins. Flip and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for an additional 5 minutes. The fish should flake easily with a fork at this point.
  • While the fish is cooking, make the cauliflower mash. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the frozen cauliflower. Cook it for 10-15 minutes until you can easily pierce the florets with a fork. Drain the cauliflower really well and return it to the pot. Add in the chicken broth, coconut milk, ghee (or vegan butter), garlic powder, and salt. Use an immersion blender (or regular blender or food processor) to blend up the cauliflower until very thick and creamy.
  • Melt the ghee (or vegan butter) for the lemon butter sauce the microwave or in a sauce pan on the stove. Stir in the lemon juice and capers. Serve the fish over some cauliflower mash and spoon some of the lemon butter caper sauce over top. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

Equipment: I used a 10.25-inch Lodge cast iron skillet to make this! I love this pan so much and use it for everything. It effortlessly moves from stovetop to oven and cooks evenly!
Storage: Store leftover Chilean sea bass in an airtight container with the lemon caper sauce in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat and serve with garlic cauliflower mash or one of your favorite sides!
Dairy-Free: If you need this sea bass recipe to be completely dairy-free, use vegan butter like Miyokos, which is one of my favorites. Otherwise, feel free to use ghee, or regular butter if you prefer. 
Fish Substitution: If you want to substitute the Chilean Sea Bass for another type of fish, I recommend using cod or a mild, flaky white fish of your choice. You can pan-sear the fish following the same instructions, and it will pair perfectly with the lemon caper sauce and garlic cauliflower mash!

Nutrition

Serving: 1sea bass filet + sauce, Calories: 262kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 14g, Cholesterol: 39mg, Sodium: 222mg, Potassium: 19mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 14IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 4mg, Iron: 1mg

This post was originally posted on March 6, 2021 and updated with new copy and photos on June 26, 2022.