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Black Sea Bass with Garlic-Herb Butter

  • All White Fish
  • Pan-sear
  • 20-minute meal
  • Entertaining
  • Grace Parisi
  • Active Time:15 min
  • Total Time:20 min
  • Servings:2-4
  • Difficulty:Easy
Photo by Grace Parisi

Black sea bass has a mild, sweet flavor with a delicate flake and delicious skin. The fillets have a tendency to curl when searing which can be remedied by making a few small slashes on the skin side and using light pressure with a spatula. This simple and versatile recipe can be prepared with rockfish, Pacific cod, lingcod, or halibut (which don’t need to be scored before cooking).


  • 3 to 4 black sea bass fillets (about 1 lb)

  • Salt

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 medium garlic clove, grated

  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • All-purpose flour, for dusting

  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as avocado, safflower, or grapeseed

  • Flaky sea salt for sprinkling

  • Lemon wedges for serving


Prep the fish

Using a sharp knife, make 3 shallow slashes into the skin side of each fillet, being careful not to cut too deeply. This helps the fish stay flat when cooking.  Sprinkle the fillets all over with salt. Set aside at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Make the Butter

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic, rosemary, and generous pinch of pepper and stir until smooth. Set aside.

Cook the Fish

Rinse the fish and pat very dry with paper towels, then dust with flour, tapping off the excess. In a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the fillets to the skillet in a single layer, skin side down. Immediately press the fish gently with a spatula for 30 seconds so it lays flat. Lift the spatula and cook until the fish is nearly done, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the fish and cook until lightly browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes.

Finish and Serve

Transfer the fish to plates, skin side up, and top with the garlic-herb butter. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and serve with the lemon wedges alongside.

Premium Seafood Subscription Box delivery of halibut and sockeye portions
Premium Seafood Subscription Box delivery of halibut and sockeye portions

Premium Seafood Subscription Box

$159 / box 4.5 lbs

Pro Tips

Pair it Up

Double down on the buttery richness of the dish with a California chardonnay. For a touch of herbal acidity, go for a grüner veltliner or sauvignon blanc.

Make It A Meal

Serve a crisp green salad to balance the richness and crusty bread to soak up the buttery sauce.

Change It Up

Fold leftover flaked fish and the garlic-herb butter into risotto or warm pasta for a next-day dinner.


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