Pan-frying is a simple but delicious way to cook sea bass – it only takes a few minutes and crisping up the skin adds flavour and texture to the finished dish. As sea bass fillets have a tendency to curl when exposed to heat, score the skin three or four times with a sharp knife and be prepared to weigh the fillets down at the beginning of the cooking process.
To ensure crispy skin, dry the fillets with kitchen roll before seasoning them with salt.
Don't put too much oil into the frying pan and make sure it has a chance to get hot before adding the fillets.
After turning the fillet over, why not add a bit of extra flavour to the pan? Simon Hulstone recommends adding a knob of butter at this point while Matt Gillan squeezes in some lemon juice in his sea bass with soy sauce meringue recipe.
Alfred Prasad dips his sea bass fillets into a simple lemon, cumin and turmeric marinade before pan-frying them.
The crisp skin and delicious oils associated with this method of cooking sea bass are brilliantly offset by acidic ingredients such as lemons or white wine, for example, Pierre Koffman’s Pan-fried sea bass with broccoli purée and citrus sauce and Simon Hulstone's Sea bass with prawn tortellini, fennel purée and white wine sauce.
Similarly the sweet flesh goes surprisingly well with deep, earthy flavours such as Jerusalem artichokes and cauliflower, even red wine – try Matthew Tomkinson’sEscalope of wild sea bass with sautéed smoked bacon, red chicory, runner beans and red wine sauce – or pair it with summer ingredients like peas, crab and tomatoes for lighter dishes.
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