Pan-seared Sea Bass With Pisto

If you love fish but are intimidated with buying whole fish at the monger, then this pan-seared sea bass with pisto recipe is perfect for you. Sea bass is one of the easiest whole fish to clean so have no fear when making this tasty dish!

Pan-seared Sea bass With Pisto with a wedge of lemon on the side

Pan searing a nice fish is one of my go-to strategies when having people over for a dinner. It looks impressive but it is actually a very easy thing to do, not to mention the very short cook time. You can pair seared fish with plenty of sides, but for this simple lemon seared sea bass I decided to pair it with pisto, which is the Spanish version of ratatouille.

I love using pisto or ratatouille with seafood since the acidity of the tomatoes pairs very well with Mediterranean fish. It is definitely a recipe that will transport you to the Costa del Sol. Another popular recipe which follows this ethos is my octopus ratatouille tarts which make wonderful canapes!

How To Fillet A Sea Bass

two whole sea bass fish on a cutting board

Sea bass is best bought whole from the fishmonger and filleted at home. But don’t worry as this is one of the easiest fish to fillet. Look at the picture above; Cut the head off of the fish where ‘line 1’ is, then make an incision where ‘line 2’ is and run the knife all the way towards where the head was along the spine of the fish.

You will be cutting through some bones, but a decent knife should go right through it – sea bass bones are not very thick. If you don’t want to make fillets, you can also just bake a sea bass whole after gutting it for a more rustic appearance.

four seabass fillets freshly made on a plate

Lastly just use the knife to cut out the belly bones in one long slice. This area on a sea bass is very fatty and does not sear well, so it is convenient to just cut it completely off. You can save all the scraps for later to make a fish soup!

How To Pan Sear Sea Bass

score marks in the skin of a sea bass fillet

Score the skin of the sea bass with your knife. This will prevent the fish from curling into a ball when you sear it on the hot pan. Then sprinkle the skin side of the fillet with salt.

two seabass fillets sauteing skin side down in a hot pan with olive oil

Put a pan on high heat and add some olive oil. Lay the fillets skin side down in the pan and sear for about one to one and a half minutes.

two seabass fillets skin side up in a hot pan with olive oil and lemon juice

Flip the fish and immediately squeeze a wedge of lemon into the pan. This will permeate the white flesh of the sea bass and give it a great, fresh flavor. Cook on this side just for 20-30 seconds. Then remove and plate!

Quick Spanish Pisto?

a pan of quick pisto and a pan of two seabass fillets on a cooktop

Normally I make pisto into a more brown and clumpy mass by simmering it for at least 2 hours. However this time I just did a quick saute of the vegetables for about 15 minutes so they mostly keep their shape and color.

INGREDIENTS

1 large Eggplant – cut into cubes

1 large Zucchini – or two small ones, cut into cubes

Bell Peppers – traditionally people use half red and half green, but you can use whatever colors you like.

1 large Onion – diced

3 cloves Garlic – minced

1 teaspoon Spanish Paprika – this is a sweet type of paprika, not at all hot like the Hungarian version.

1 tablespoon Ajo y Perejil – this is a mix of dry parsley and granulated garlic. You can just use about 1.5 tsp of each if you can’t find this spice blend outside of Spain.

Salt – to taste

Olive Oil – as needed. Seriously, pisto is made with a LOT of olive oil. If you think you are using too much, don’t worry they probably use more in Spain.

3 tbsp Tomato Paste – when the tomato paste mixes with the olive oil it will make a nice sauce when binds the pisto together and pairs well with the pan-seared sea bass.

Add all of the ingredients sans tomato paste to a hot pan with olive oil and saute for 10-12 minutes. Then add the tomato paste and stir it in. Cook for another few minutes then remove from the heat. There will be more pisto than needed, but you can store the leftovers easily in a container in the fridge.

Can You Serve Pan Seared Sea Bass With A Different Side?

Two sea bass fillets on a bed of quick pisto with a wedge of lemon on a plate

Yes! If you don’t feel like making a quick pisto/ratatouille then you can do things like roast asparagus, creamed corn, or even a cold Mediterranean style salad like Greek or Shirazi. I made pisto because I’ve just returned from my month in Spain and am still in that Spanish food mindset!

pan seared seabass fillets skin side up on a bed of quick Spanish pisto with a wedge of lemon on the side

Pan-Seared Sea Bass With Pisto

This easy recipe for a pan-seared sea bass goes great with a quick pisto. Don't get intimidated by whole fish, as sea bass is one of the easiest to clean and fillet.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: European, Mediterranean, Spanish
Keyword: Fish, Fish Fillet, Pan Seared, Sea Bass
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 490kcal
Cost: $15

Equipment

  • 2 Pans one for fish, one for pisto

Ingredients

Pan-seared Sea Bass

  • 2 whole Sea Bass If you can get your monger to butcher the fillets for you then that should save time, but if not it is super easy to do at home.
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • Olive Oil Enough to just barely coat the bottom of the pan

Spanish Pisto

  • 1 Eggplant cut into cubes
  • 1 Zucchini cut into cubes
  • 2 Bell Peppers traditionally people use half red and half green but you can use whatever colors you like.
  • 1 Onion diced
  • 3 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish Paprika this is a sweet type of paprika not at all hot like the Hungarian version.
  • 1 tablespoon Ajo y Perejil this is a mix of dry parsley and granulated garlic. You can just use about 1.5 tsp of each if you can’t find this spice blend outside of Spain.
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive Oil as needed. Seriously pisto is made with a LOT of olive oil. If you think you are using too much, don’t worry they probably use more in Spain.
  • 3 tbsp Tomato Paste when the tomato paste mixes with the olive oil it will make a nice sauce when binds the pisto together and pairs well with the pan-seared sea bass.

Instructions

  • If you are making the quick pisto to pair with the sea bass then do that first since it takes longer. After prepping all the ingredients, add some oil to a hot pan and add all the ingredients except the tomato paste and saute for 10-12 minutes. Then add the tomato paste, stir and cook for another few minutes. While the pisto is sauteing you can work on the fish.
  • Gut the fish by cutting a line from the anal fins to the jaw. Remove all guts and innards and rinse with water. Fillet your fish by chopping off the head right behind the pectoral fin (front flappy fins). Then make an incision at the tail and run your knife up along the spine all the way to where the head was. Lay your fillet skin side down on a cutting board and cut out the belly bones. Voila – a quickly butchered and filleted sea bass.
  • Score a few lines into the skin of the sea bass fillets and sprinkle salt over all of them.
  • Set a pan on high heat and add olive oil. Lay the sea bass fillets skin side down and sear for one to one and a half minutes. Flip, and squeeze a wedge of lemon immediately into the pan. Let sear another 20-30 seconds, then remove and plate.

Notes

There will be extra pisto if you arrange the plates daintily for serving guests, but pisto stores very will in the fridge and will even taste better the next day!

Nutrition

Calories: 490kcal
Did you make this?Mention @CookingToEntertain or tag #cookingtoentertain and let me know how it was!

Pan-Seared Sea Bass With Pisto

The Best Fish Recipes

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