Pan Fried Sea Bass is an elegant, yet easy meal that’s made in one pan. Breaded in gluten free flour and dressed in a simple white wine and caper sauce, every bite of this delicate fish is deliciously crispy, bright, and tender.
If you’ve been searching for a light and healthy option to serve for dinners, dinner parties, or meal prep, Pan Fried Sea Bass is it! This easy, yet elegant recipe comes together in one pan in under 20 minutes. Just like my Pineapple Lime Grilled Branzino, the fish is light and tender while still bursting with flavor.
Pan searing sea bass is a low-maintenance cooking method that will lessen the cleanup and achieve light, flaky, and tender meat with a crispy outside. I coated the fish in a gluten free breading before it was fried to ensure that every bite was extra crunchy. The fish cooks in less than 10 minutes, giving you plenty of time to focus on the easy and flavorful sauce.
To finish it off, the pan fried black sea bass is dressed in an easy butter, white wine, and caper sauce, and a spritz of lemon. You and your guests won’t be able to get enough of the bright and tangy flavors and tender meat!
What is sea bass?
Sea bass, according to Bon Appetit, is a generic term that’s sometimes used to describe certain varieties of saltwater fish. The bass we’re using in this recipe, black sea bass, is a true bass that’s found in the western Atlantic Ocean (between the Carolinas and Florida). It has dark, almost black scales, a white belly, and firm and mild-tasting meat.
- Black sea bass - When shopping for sea bass, look for filets or a whole fish with bright skin, a firm body, and pink gills. It’s best to buy sea bass during fall and winter as this is before their migration, meaning fattier (more flavorful) fish.
- Gluten free flour - Almost any gluten free flour can be used to bread the fish.
- Butter and olive oil - The oil will help crisp the fish while the butter lends delicious flavors and creates a lusciously smooth white wine and caper sauce. If you’d like to keep this recipe dairy free, substitute the butter for more olive oil.
- White wine - A splash of white wine is used to make the sauce that will garnish the pan fried black sea bass. Use a dry white wine that you enjoy drinking, like Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc. For a non-alcoholic version, replace the white wine with chicken or vegetable stock.
- Capers - Just think of these as small olives. Still part of the olive family, capers will give the white wine sauce a briny and tangy finish and help each bite explode with flavor.
How to make pan fried sea bass
Black sea bass with white wine and caper sauce comes together in one pan in just four simple steps:
Step 1: Prepare the sea bass by drying it really well with paper towels.
Step 2: Mix the flour, salt, and pepper together on a shallow plate. Coat the bass on both sides in the breading mixture.
Step 3: Warm the oil and butter in a skillet over high heat. Add the fish skin side up and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate when done.
Step 4: Add the remaining butter to the pan along with the wine and capers. Reduce the sauce, then pour it over the fish. Garnish with fresh parsley and lemon juice, then serve!
Tips and variations
- Always dry the fish really, really well with paper towels before dredging it in the batter. A wet fish will yield soggy results.
- If you don’t need the recipe to be gluten free, go ahead and use regular all purpose flour instead.
- You can omit the flour breading if you want to lower the carbs.
- Pan seared sea bass is very delicate and flipping it in the pan can be challenging. To keep it from falling apart, use a fish spatula (or a spatula with flexibility) under the body and a second spatula to support the rest while you turn it to the other side.
- Cooked fish is safe to eat when its internal temperature reaches 145ºF.
Frequently asked questions
I can’t find black sea bass. Is there another kind of fish I can use?
Red snapper, cod, or grouper are all similar to black sea bass and can be used interchangeably.
What does black sea bass taste like?
Black sea bass has a lean and light flesh that’s firm, yet tender. Because it’s so light, the meat tastes naturally mild and slightly sweet, helping it pair well with bright, buttery, and acidic sauces.
Is the sea bass fried with its skin on?
Whole sea bass or the filets can be fried with the skin on. Just make sure to begin by pan frying the fish skin side up.
What goes well with sea bass?
Serve light and healthy side dishes with the fish. Mediterranean quinoa, farro salad, cauliflower rice, or roasted potatoes would all pair well.
To store: Keep the leftover sea bass in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
To freeze: Wrap the cooked fish tightly in foil and place it in an airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the fridge before reheating.
To reheat: Heat the fish in a medium-high skillet or a 400ºF oven until warmed through and crisp.
Hungry for more easy seafood recipes?
Pan Fried Sea Bass
- 1 lb Black Sea bass
- ⅓ cup gluten-free flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoon butter
- ⅓ cup white wine
- 2 tablespoon capers
- Pat dry sea bass with paper tower and set aside
- In a shallow plate combine the flour, salt and pepper. Coat the sea bass on both sides shaking off the excess flour. Do this with all the fish then discard the remaining flour.
- To a large skillet add the oil and 2 tablespoon butter and allow butter to melt completely until it starts to bubble. Add the fish skin side up and cook for 3-4 minutes on high heat, then carefully turn the fish using a fish spatula (or two) and cook for another 3-4 minutes (see notes). Transfer to a plate
- Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the pan along with the wine and capers. Cook until liquid is reduced in half (about 3 minutes). Pour over the fish
- Garnish sea bass with fresh parsley and a drizzle of lemon juice.
- dry the fish before coating in batter. A wet fish will yield soggy results
- to flip the delicate sea bass without breaking it apart use a fish spatula which has the curve and flexibility as well as the body support and lift the fish. Use a second spatula to hold the fish as you turn to the other side.
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