Pan Seared Goldspotted Sea Bass with Creamy Tarragon Sauce

Goldspotted sea bass is a wonderful, inexpensive white fish that’s great for frying and sauteeing. The meat is also perfect for making a fish stock that can be frozen and used later for soups, pastas and sauces. Recipe adapted from Chef Jenn Felmley. Serves 4.

Tarragon Sauce

  • 1 cup homemade or store-bought fish stock, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio)
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped (or 1 teaspoon of dried); plus extra leaves for garnish*   
  1. In a saucepan melt butter over medium low heat. Whisk flour into butter to form blonde roux (a paste of flour and butter that is a light blonde in color).
  2. Slowly add stock into the roux, whisking constantly. 
  3. Reduce heat and pour in white wine and cream, simmer to thicken slightly.
  4. Stir in tarragon just before serving and season with salt and pepper.

*Chef’s Tip: if you are using dried tarragon and making fish stock from scratch, simmer the tarragon in the fish stock for 10 minutes to rehydrate and bring out the flavors. If you don’t have fresh or dried tarragon, you can use dill or lemon zest.

Pan Seared Goldspotted Sea Bass

  • 4 (6 oz) goldspotted sea bass fillets, pin bones removed (trimmed to even thickness)
  • Kosher salt and white pepper to taste.
  • 4 Tbsp high heat cooking oil (vegetable oil, coconut oil, grape seed oil, etc.)
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Brush fish with oil. Generously season the fish with salt and pepper. 
  3. Heat a small non-stick skillet over medium- high heat.
  4. If skin is still on the fish fillet, add the fillet to the pan skin side down.
  5. Cook one side without moving, until crust forms, about 2 minutes. 
  6. Remove fish from pan and place onto a parchment lined sheet pan, browned side down.
  7. Place in oven and cook for 8 to 10 minutes for thin pieces of fish (about 3/4-inch-thick fillet) or longer as needed.
  8. Remove from oven. Ladle sauce onto a plate, place fish fillet on top, garnish with tarragon leaves and serve.

Fish Stock (if making)

Makes approximately 4 cups

  • 2 pounds mild white fish (or fish of your choice) gold spotted sea bass, halibut, cod, or a fish head (split)
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 ribs celery
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig flat-leaf parsley (or1 teaspoon dried parsley)
  • 1 sprig thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 3 whole peppercorns
  • 2 ½  quarts cold water
  1. Place bones in a large pot; add remaining ingredients and cold water.
  2. Bring almost to a boil over high heat (do not let it come to a boil).
  3. Reduce heat to low and cook at a bare simmer, skimming any foam that rises to surface, 20–30 minutes.
  4. Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth (to capture any small bones) and discard solids. Stock tastes best when freshly made.

Stock can be frozen and stored for 2-3 months. First, refrigerate stock over night in a storage container. Once completely cool pour 2 tablespoons of neutral oil (vegetable, grapeseed, etc.) over the top of the stock, then cover and freeze. The oil will create a barrier that will protect against freezer burn.

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