Sea Bass Recipes Plus Tips On Buying Sustainable Seafood

Gail Ingram Photography

Sea Bass Recipes Can Be Made with Many Different Fish

Sea bass recipes can be made with a number of different fish, including saltwater and freshwater bass.

All bass have tender flesh and delicate, fresh flavors. Striped bass, the largest member of the saltwater bass family, is native from Maine to Louisiana. Its delicate flavor has made it a favorite of chefs worldwide.

The most common bass however is sea bass, also known as black bass or blackfish. Black bass, which is often used in Chinese cooking, is a particularly good choice for sea bass recipes that call for steaming (and it’s a real treat when dipped in a soy ginger sauce!) However, you can cook all bass just about any which way (stuffed and baked, broiled, steamed, poached or sautéed.)

Concerned Over Mercury in Seafood?

  Is Sea Bass Healthy?

Is Sea Bass High in Mercury?

I realize mercury in seafood is a legitimate concern. Like all fish, all varieties of sea bass do contain some mercury. However, if you consult the chart put out by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services you’ll see sea bass is not included in the category with the highest levels of mercury in seafood (which happen to include tile fish, shark, king mackerel and swordfish.)

In general, sea bass has about the same mercury content of tuna. However, if you are particularly worried about mercury a good low-mercury fish substitute to use in sea bass recipes is black cod.

As for whether sea bass is healthy the answer is YES! Studies show seafood (including sea bass) is a healthy food choice primarily because it contains hard-to-get omega-3 rich fats in the form of EPA and DHA. While it is true people who eat fish have higher levels of mercury than people who do not (1) multiple studies have been done on real people (not animals!) in real life that have proven beyond a doubt that fish eaters live longer and suffer fewer heart attacks than people who do not eat fish (2). Additionally, the largest scientific study performed to date has specifically shown there to be no harmful relationship between either prenatal or postnatal mercury exposure and developmental outcomes in either five-year olds (3) or nine-year olds (4). In these studies, childbearing women ate an average of twelve servings of fish weekly. I personally believe eating twelve servings of fish a week is definitely a bit much, but the point is these studies suggest that an adult who eats a more reasonable two or three servings of fish per week should be fine.

Can You Eat Clean and Still Eat Sea Bass? 

Is Sea Bass Sustainable Seafood?

Overfishing and illegal fishing remain a serious global threat to sea bass (particularly Chilean sea bass, also known as Patagonian toothfish). The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that 80 percent of fisheries are fully exploited, overfished, depleted, or recovering from depletion. At the same time, poor fish farming practices can cause a rippling effect of negative impacts ranging from water pollution to altered ecosystems.

To get the highest quality fish of any variety you want to look for sustainable sea bass that have met the independent environmental standards of the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council). The MSC is the world’s leading certification and ecolabelling program for sustainable seafood. The MSC standards are very strong and they require third-party certification. Look for the blue MSC ecolabel (below) identifying wild-caught sustainable seafood when shopping or dining out.

Note: Whole Foods Market carries sustainable sea bass and is moving towards a fully sustainable seafood department.

On with the Sea Bass Recipes!!

Sea bass just happens to be my absolute favorite fish in the whole world. I first had sea bass at The Striped Bass restaurant in Philadelphia (which I recently learned has sadly closed) with Andy when we were first dating. We both loved it so much we actually served sea bass as the only entrée at our wedding. We got married in 2000 and back then a lot of people had no idea what sea bass was but it was a big hit with our wedding guests (to this day friends and family still talking about our “wedding fish dish”.)

Because it’s our “wedding fish” I’ve always served sea bass for special holidays and family occasions, and I’ve experimented with so many different sea bass recipes in the last decade. I’ve included my two favorite sea bass recipes below…one is for special occasions and the other is more of an “everyday” recipe (I know sea bass is pricey so you can substitute cod for the “everyday” recipe if you want to keep the cost down.)


Eat Clean Recipe for Baked Sea Bass with Fennel & Fresh Tomato Sauce

Serves: 4

Not only is this my favorite sea bass recipe, I seriously think it might be my favorite fish recipe in general. It’s not your “everyday” dish though because it does take about 30 minutes of hands-on time to prepare but I assure you it is worth every minute. It is melt-in-your-mouth to-die-for delish. I made this dish this year for our family Christmas dinner and then again for a New Year’s Eve party we had. Although it takes a little time to prepare all of the steps are easy to do. Plus, the tomato sauce, bread crumb topping and fennel can all be prepared the day ahead, which makes the dish easy to put together at the last minute if you are entertaining.

  • 1 ½ pounds fresh Roma (plum) tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed, divided
  • 1 small Spanish onion, diced
  • Himalayan salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 medium-sized fennel bulbs, stems trimmed and bulb thinly sliced into vertical strips
  • 2 slices sprouted whole grain bread (such as Food for Life brand)
  • 1 whole lemon, cut in half
  • 4 sea bass filets, about 5-6 ounces each, rinsed and patted dry
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the tomatoes to the boiling water and cook 4-5 minutes, or until skins loosen. Carefully remove tomatoes from the water with a slotted spoon. Set aside until tomatoes are cool enough to handle; carefully slip off the skins and discard. Chop the tomatoes, discard as many of the seeds as you can, and set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large heavy skillet over low heat. Add half of the garlic and sauté briefly, 30 seconds. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Season onions with a bit of unrefined sea salt. Add the chopped tomatoes and raise heat to medium. Cook, stirring for 10-12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set tomato sauce aside. (Note: tomato sauce can be made up to four days in advance and stored in a covered container in the fridge.)
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a large heavy skillet over low heat. Add the fennel, a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons water. Cover and cook over low heat until just tender, 10-15 minutes; do not allow to become to dry. Uncover, raise the heat and cook away most of the liquid. Set aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil an 8 x 8-inch casserole dish.
  5. Place bread crumbs, the remaining 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and remaining garlic in a high speed blender or food processor. Pulse a few times to make coarse crumbs. Set aside.
  6. Scatter half of the fennel in the prepared dish. Squeeze the juice from ½ lemon on both sides of the sea bass. Season with unrefined sea salt and pepper. Place the filets on top of the fennel. Distribute the remaining fennel over the filets. Spoon on the tomato mixture and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Squeeze the other half of the lemon over the top.
  7. Bake, uncovered, until the fish is opaque throughout when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes (the timing depends on the thickness of the fish.) Preheat the broiler and broil until lightly browned, 1-2 minutes. Serve at once.

Oh So Easy “Everyday” Baked Sea Bass Parmesan

Serves: 4

If you use a prepared sauce (my favorite is Rao’s) you can put this together in as little as 7 minutes of hands-on time. If you want to make your own sauce the one in the recipe above is perfect. Serve this dish with a side of roasted carrots and steamed kale.

  • 4 sea bass filets, about 5-6 ounces each, rinsed and patted dry
  • Himalayan salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (such as Rao’s) or Ivy’s homemade sauce (recipe above)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place filets in a lightly oiled baking dish. Mix the tomato sauce with the basil and cover the fish with the sauce.
  3. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until barely cooked through. Remove the dish from the oven and sprinkle with cheese. Return to the oven and bake 4 to 5 minutes longer, or until the cheese melts. Serve at once.




  1. Yoshizawa K, et al. “Mercury and the risk of coronary heart disease in men.” N Eng. Jour Med. 2002 Nov 28;347(22):1755-60.
  2. Zhang J, et al. “Fish consumption and mortality from all causes, ischemic heart disease and stroke: an ecological study.” Prev Med. 1999 May;28(5):520-90.
  3. Davidson PW, et al. “Effects of prenatal and postnatal methylmercury exposure from fish consumption on neurodevelopment: outcomes at 66 months of age in the Seychelles Child Development Study.” JAMA. 1998 Aug 26;280(8):701-7.
  4. Myers GJ, et al. “Prenatal methylmercury exposure from ocean fish consumption in the Seychelles Child Development Study.” Lancet. 2003 May 17;361(9370):1686-92.


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  1. Hi Marti!
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