A Chilean Sea Bass to Melt Your Heart / by Alice Zhao

Course #3 brought us a second serving of luxurious seafood. Although we try to eat sustainable seafood as much as possible, Chilean Sea Bass is one fish we get to enjoy on rare occasions. I still remember the very first time I had Chilean Sea Bass many years ago. The way it flaked and melted in my mouth, it was like a mini food revelation that fish could taste this good. (Um, no offense, Mom and Dad, but I believe you two had the same revelation too!) Prized for its buttery meat and rarity, due to overfishing, it is no wonder that Whole Food charges $20/lb. Jared picked up a one 8 oz portion and split it into 2, especially since there were two more courses coming. Also because the fish is so rich, it is really kind of hard to eat an 8 oz portion on your own!

One of the other reasons Jared decided to make this dish was because I had made a similar dish from the French Laundry cookbook for him two years ago for his birthday. He took the parsnip puree and the sea bass recipe from the cookbook and added his own touch to the dish. The parsnip puree added mild sweetness to the dish and the little bits of roasted cauliflower added texture to offset the creaminess of the mashed potato and the parsnip puree. The Hawaiian pink salt is optional, but it did give us a nice salty surprise when it was eaten all together.


8 oz Chilean sea bass fillet (or fish fillet of your choice)
2 parsnips
2 medium red potatoes
1 tbsp butter
Cauliflower florets (you really only need about a small handful)
Heavy whipping cream
Olive oil
Salt + Pepper
Hawaiian Pink Sea Salt (optional) Thanks Wendi + Barry for this gift

Recipe (serves 2)

Mashed Potatoes

  • Wash the potatoes and cut into small chunks leaving the skin on
  • Place the potatoes in a small pot and cover with heavy whipping cream. I used the leftover cream from the cauliflower puree.
  • Simmer on low heat until the potatoes fall apart. (Warning, heating cream on high heat will cause it to boil over, so keep a watchful eye)
  • Strain the potatoes through a sieve and reserve the cream. Mash the potatoes and add in chopped chives, 1 tbsp butter and enough of the reserved cream and mix until it has a creamy consistency
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Set it in a warm place

Roasted Cauliflower Florets

  • Remove the small florets from the top of the cauliflower
  • Rinse and dry and coat it with a little olive oil
  • Place florets in a oven safe pan and roast it at 350F until golden brown.

Parsnip Puree

  • Peel the parsnip and cut into small uniform chunks
  • Place it in a small pot and cover with heavy whipping cream
  • Simmer on low heat until the parsnip is tender and break apart
  • Strain the parsnip through a sieve and reserve the cream
  • Using a spatula, push the parsnip through the sieve into a bowl. (Another option is to use a food mill)
  • Add enough cream back into the parsnip until a creamy consistency is achieved
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste

Chilean Sea bass

  • Rinse the sea bass under cold water
  • Cut the 8oz portion into 2 equal pieces
  • Pat dry with paper towel, especially the skin
  • Season the flesh with salt and pepper
  • In a stainless steel pan, heat on high until the pan is hot, reduce the heat to medium high heat.
  • Add enough oil to cover the base of the pan and lay the fish skin side down
  • To prevent the fish from curling during cooking, place a clean pan on top of the fish.
  • Cook the fish undisturbed until the skin is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Use a spoon to spoon hot oil on top of the fish to help cook the fish.
  • Turn the fish over and sear the flesh side until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. If your fillet is really thick, you can place it in an oven at 350F for 5-7 minutes.
  • Remove the fish from the stove and place it on a paper towel to remove the excess fat
  • To assemble, take a dollop of the parsnip puree and spread it evenly with an offset spatula. place the fish, skin side up, on one side of the puree. With 2 spoons, form a quenelle with the mash potatoes and set it on the other side of the fish. Sprinkle the roasted cauliflower florets and pink Hawaiian sea salt around the plate
We also forgot to mention that we each enjoyed a glass of Shaw & Smith 2008 Sauvignon Blanc with the scallops and fish. The fruitiness and sweetness of the wine went perfect with these two dishes. And the acidity level cuts the fattiness of the dish.