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a plate of seared sea bass with fennel

Pan Seared Sea Bass With Fennel

  • Author: GERD Chef Staff
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x


Chilean sea bass is a firm and buttery fish that is seared to perfection using the method in this recipe. With a golden brown crust (or skin if purchased with the skin-on) on the outside and a moist and flaky inside, this simple dish is sure to impress anyone you prepare it for.



1 small bulb fennel, with fronds

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided


2 sea bass fillets, with or without skin

1/2 tablespoon plant-based butter, optional


  1. Cut the ends from the bulb of fennel and remove outer layer, discarding. Cut remainder of bulb in half and thinly slice. Finely chop some of the fronds to use later. 
  2. Heat the water and 1/2 of the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced fennel bulb and sauté until crisp-tender, water has evaporated, and fennel is lightly browning. Season with salt to taste.
  3. Remove fennel from skillet and set aside. Raise heat to medium-high and add the remaining olive oil to the skillet. Season sea bass with salt on both sides.
  4. Once the oil is hot, add the sea bass to the skillet, skin-side down if your fillets have the skin on. Let cook without disturbing for 3 minutes, or until the fish has browned and easily releases from the pan.
  5. Reduce heat to medium, flip fish, and cook an additional 2 minutes.
  6. Reduce heat to low, sprinkle with a tablespoon of chopped fennel fronds, and add butter to the pan. Let cook for 1 additional minute, using a spoon to drizzle the butter from the pan over the top of the fish.
  7. Serve the cooked fennel bulb topped with the seared sea bass.


Most fish fillets can be cooked using the method in this recipe. A different variety of bass is an obvious substitute, while cod loins are likely the least expensive and widely-available substitute.

If you are looking for a simple pan-seared sea bass with your own side dishes, this recipe can be made without the fennel bulb. Finely chopped tarragon can be substituted for the fennel fronds for a similar flavor, however fresh thyme or rosemary also go great.

When cooking fish at home, we recommend a heavy pan with a nonstick surface. The weight of the pan will retain heat for better browning, while the nonstick surface will ensure the fish will not stick, allowing you to cook with less oil or butter.