Mexican Seafood Recipe: Pan-Seared Bass with Chile Lime Broth

By Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, Helene Siegel, Cesare Casella, Jack Bishop, Tom Lacalamita, Heather Dismore, Martin Yan, Dede Wilson, Joan H. Moravek, Kristin Eddy

Popular sea bass is a great choice for home entertaining. You can’t easily overcook it, and it holds its own with assertive flavors like olives, garlic, chiles, and lime. For a complete meal, serve with wedges of roasted potatoes and seared greens.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/chang]

Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/chang

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

1-1⁄2 pounds skinless, boneless fillet of sea bass, or other firm-fleshed fish, cut in 4 portions

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 serrano chiles, stemmed and sliced in 1⁄4-inch disks

1 lime, cut in 8 wedges

1 tomato, cored, seeded, and cut in strips

1⁄2 bunch fresh oregano leaves, coarsely chopped (1⁄4 cup)

1⁄2 cup Spanish green olives, sliced

1⁄2 cup white wine

3⁄4 cup fish stock or clam juice

  1. Season the fish fillets evenly with salt and pepper.

  2. Heat one very large skillet or two medium skillets over medium-high heat for a minute and then coat the pans with the olive oil.

  3. Add the fillets and turn the heat to very high. Sear until golden brown, about 2 minutes, then flip to sear the other side, about 1 minute.

    Transfer the fillets to a rack over a plate to catch the juices, and reserve.

  4. Return the pan (or pans) to high heat. Add the onion slices and sauté, stirring frequently, for 1 minute or until they start to brown.

  5. Add the garlic, chile slices, lime wedges, tomatoes, oregano, and olives and sauté briskly for 1 minute.

  6. Add the wine and boil until reduced by half.

  7. Pour in the fish stock or clam juice, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.

  8. Return the fish fillets, along with their juices, to the pan.

  9. Cover and cook gently for 2 minutes or longer, depending on the thickness of fillets. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

  10. Serve immediately in soup plates with a generous puddle of broth and garnish of vegetables.

If you’ve ever considered preparing fish for a crowd but ruled it out as too scary, this light, healthy, one-skillet dish is a great choice. To serve a large group, just pan-sear all the fish, transfer to a casserole, cover with foil, and reserve.

Then, when it’s time to serve, cook the sauce in a few pans, pour over the fish, and finish cooking in a 350-degree F oven for about 5 minutes. What a great party dish!