Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass with Garlic and Herb Rice

5 mins read

This recipe for Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass is a great one to try if you’re looking for an easy way to cook sea bass. This white flaky fish has a light flavor and texture, and it’s combined with homemade garlic and herb rice for a comforting and satisfying meal!


Chilean sea bass is a type of fish that has a delicate flavor and flaky texture. It’s a great choice for dishes like this pan-seared sea bass because it doesn’t have a strong taste that would overpower the other flavors in the dish.

The best way to cook the fish is in a pan with high sides. The goal of this cooking method is to sear both the top and bottom sides of each piece so that it’s crispy on the outside while still being tender on the inside.

This is done by heating up a pan and then adding oil, butter, or another fat source to coat it. When this liquid in the pan starts to shimmer, you know that it’s ready to use for cooking your sea bass. Sear on both sides until golden brown for a perfectly cooked sea bass.

This easy fish recipe is paired with homemade garlic and herb rice that complements the flavor of the fish and makes it a full and satisfying meal!

The fish cooks in 20 minutes and the rice cooks in 30 minutes, but you can prepare the rice while the fish is marinating.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Chilean sea bass cooks quickly making it perfect for a busy weeknight.
  • It’s high in protein and low in calories making it a good choice for dinner. It’s also naturally gluten free.
  • The garlic and herb rice is a flavorful and comforting paring to the flavor of the fish.
  • Pair it with a simple veggie side like creamed kale, roasted parsnips or sautéed carrots.

This recipe will work for any type of white fish. Simply substitute with your favorite type of fish.


Ingredients You Need

  • Garlic Cloves – Adds a savory bold flavor to the fish.
  • Olive Oil – Olive oil is used to help the sea bass cook evenly and reduces sticking while pan searing.
  • Lemon Juice – Adds a tart and refreshing flavor that brightens up the fish.
  • Old Bay Seasoning – This is a popular seafood seasoning that has a salty, herby flavor. If you don’t have old bay seasoning, you can substitute with 1/2 teaspoon celery salt, 1/4 teaspoon paprika and a pinch of red pepper flakes. You can also use cajun seasoning instead of old bay seasoning.
  • Salt & Pepper – Enhances the flavor of the fish.
  • Chilean Sea Bass – This white fish is a staple in South American cuisine. Purchase a 1.5-pound filet and cut it into 4-5 even pieces. You can find it at your local fish market, Whole Foods or local grocery store.
  • Butter – The butter helps the fish cook evenly and adds to its tender texture. You can substitute with a good vegan butter, if desired.

For the rice:

  • Olive Oil – Used in this recipe to help the rice cook evenly and prevent sticking.
  • Garlic Cloves – Garlic adds flavor and aroma to the rice.
  • Long Grain Rice – This is the best type of rice to use for this recipe because it will absorb the flavors of the garlic and herbs properly.
  • Chicken Broth – Adds flavor and moisture to the rice that deepens the taste. You can also use vegetable broth.
  • Fresh Thyme – The fresh thyme adds a herby flavor that compliments the garlic and lemon juice.
  • Salt – Use salt to enhance the flavor of the rice to taste.

How to Cook Chilean Sea Bass

  1. Mix the fish seasoning: To a small bowl, combine the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, old bay seasoning, salt, and pepper and stir.
  2. Marinate the fish: Pat the sea bass fillets completely dry with paper towels, then rub the marinade on both sides. You can leave the fish skin on. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow it to absorb the flavors. You can skip the marinating time to cook this recipe faster but the flavor may not be as good.
  3. Make the garlic and herb rice: Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan until shiny and hot. (I use a deep cast iron skillet.) Add the garlic and saute until it becomes fragrant. Add the rice and toast until it starts to brown. Then, add in the chicken broth and thyme. Bring to a boil, then down to a simmer. Cover with a lid and let it cook for 20 minutes. Once cooked, turn the heat off and let it steam for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
  4. Pan sear the sea bass: Remove the marinated sea bass from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat until fully melted. Sear the fish for 3-4 minutes on each side until a golden-brown crust starts to form. Start with skin side down, then flip. Use a fish turner to flip the fish.
  5. Remove and serve: Remove the fish carefully with tongs and plate over a serving of garlic herb rice. Garnish with fresh lemon, thyme, or parsley.

Make sure the pan and the oil is hot before adding the fish. Resist the urge to flip the fish until a crust forms underneath. You may need to turn the heat up to medium high heat. If you flip the fish too soon, it will break apart.


Expert Tips

  1. Pat fish dry before adding the seasonings to ensure they stick properly.
  2. Marinate the fish in a large Ziploc bag or bowl to prevent any spillage.
  3. You can double or triple the pan seared chilean sea bass recipe. This recipe makes enough for two people but can easily be doubled or tripled if needed.
  4. Let the fish rest at room temperature for 10 minutes before cooking to ensure even cooking and to help keep it tender.
  5. Resist the urge to flip the fish until a crust forms underneath. You may need to adjust the heat to a higher temperature to achieve. Make sure the oil is very hot before searing.


  • Use basmati or jasmine rice instead. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time according to the package directions.
  • Use a different seasoning for the fish. If you don’t have Old Bay Seasoning on hand use another type that has a similar flavor profile like Cajun, Creole, or jerk seasoning.
  • Add a shallot to the seasoning. Finely dice a shallot and add to the seasoning for even more flavor.
  • Substitute with another type of fish. You can substitute with other types of ocean fish such as cod, swordfish, halibut, tuna, salmon, etc. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
  • Serve with vegetables like instant pot asparagus, sautéed swiss chard, creamed kale or over mashed potatoes instead of rice.
  • Try it with turmeric coconut rice instead of the herb garlic rice.


Is Chilean sea bass hard to cook?

No, it is a very easy fish to cook because it’s light and delicate. The best way to cook is by using a pan-sear method.

Can you overcook Chilean sea bass?

Yes, if you overcook it the texture becomes very dry and tough. It’s best to avoid that by using a cooking method like pan-searing or grilling instead of baking or boiling.

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