Baking in salt is a superb way to cook a whole sea bass. The salt crust acts as a seal so the fish becomes succulent and tasty but not salty. Ensure that it has been gutted with gills removed - as this will impart a bitter flavour - but leave the scales on as they will help to lock in moisture.
Other ways of cooking a whole sea bass include barbecuing or roasting in the oven. With both methods, it is often recommended that the fish is tightly wrapped in foil first, this will ensure that the flesh does not dry out as it cooks. Flavour can be imparted by adding other ingredients to the foil, such as oil, butter, herbs, vegetables or citrus fruit. Alternatively, try slashing a cavity in the fish and stuffing with your chosen ingredients - Dominic Chapman recommends lemon and fennel in his sea bass recipe.
You can either buy a fillet of sea bass individually or fillet a whole fish into two individual fillets yourself. When cooking a sea bass fillet, make sure that it has been pin-boned carefully beforehand.
Sea bass fillet is supple, but holds firm during cooking. Pan-frying is probably the most popular cooking method, chosen by chefs like Kevin Mangeolles or William Drabble. But sea bass fillets can also be gently cooked by steaming, poaching, cooking en-papillote or even serving raw as carpaccio. Alternatively, you could deep-fry sea bass fillets as Galton Blackiston recommends, but opt for a light, airy batter so as not to overwhelm its subtle flavour.
Stronger, punchier flavours often draw out the true brilliance of sea bass, so why not try the fish with bacon, as in Matthew Tomkinson's Escalope of wild sea bass recipe, or drizzled in a coriander and vanilla sauce, as Marcello Tully recommends.
Alternatively, try sea bass fillet sliced up in a Carpaccio with a simple chilli and oregano dressing, as Robert Thompson advocates.