A Chilean Sea Bass Recipe with Macadamia-Orange Crust sounds (and looks!) like a rather complex dish you might order at a swanky restaurant. But, as long as the fish is super fresh, it’s almost fail proof making this gourmet dinner entree at home.
The inspiration for this dish was a delicious-sounding Parmesan Crusted Baked Fish recipe I stumbled upon online. Although I didn’t make the Parmesan Crusted Baked Fish recipe, I cook enough to tell you it would be amazing. However, I didn’t want to use all the cheese, butter and conventional mayonnaise called for in the recipe. Instead, I simply swapped ground macadamia nuts for the Parmesan Cheese, organic unrefined red palm oil for the butter (organic, unrefined red palm oil is a super food, by the way) and my own Clean Cuisine nut-based mayonnaise recipe for conventional store-bought mayonnaise (Click HERE to read why I don’t use store-bought mayonnaise.) I also added orange zest and Sriracha sauce just for extra flavor fun. Although I didn’t get to compare my Chilean Sea Bass Recipe head to head against the one online, I have to say my version was unspeakably tasty. It could quite possibly be my favorite Chilean Sea Bass recipe of all time.
The fish absolutely has to be fresh though…
Whether you are making a gourmet Chilean Sea Bass dish or an everyday simple salmon dinner, the fish you use has to be super fresh. In fact, in my opinion, the number one mistake people make when preparing fish dinners at home starts at the supermarket. So many people say they don’t know how to cook fish and so they just don’t eat it at home, but the REAL problems is that most people don’t know how to buy fish. Fish is actually incredibly easy to cook, but if the fish is not ultra fresh your recipe is doomed.
Here are a few things you need to know when trying to buy the freshest fish for this recipe or any other fish dish…
The Best Tasting Chilean Sea Bass Recipe Starts with the Freshest Fish
Here are my tips for buying the the freshest Chilean Sea Bass:
- Choose a Quality Fish Market: Whether you are buying Chilean Sea Bass or any other fish, it is absolutely worth the extra effort to go to the best seafood market in your area. Ideally, you would want the market to voluntarily participate in the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Seafood Inspection Program. You also want a market with a high turnover. The more fish a store sells, the fresher the fish selection will be. We live in North Palm Beach, Florida and after repeatedly being disappointed with the fish from Whole Foods Market and Publix, I now only buy my seafood from Cod and Capers, Carmines or Doris Italian Market. And believe it or not, I don’t pay any more for buying fish at these specialty shops either.
- Go for Fresh, Not Frozen: If buying fresh Chilean Sea Bass is not possible the next best thing is “Frozen-at-Sea” (FAS)―fish that has been flash-frozen at extremely low temperatures in as little as three seconds onboard the ship. But you definitely want to avoid buying any fish labeled “fresh from frozen”, which means it has been previously frozen and then thawed. Although it is displayed with the fresh fish, “Fresh from frozen” is not a fresh catch.
- Handle with Care: Ask for your Chilean Sea Bass to be packed in ice and then take it home and refrigerate at once. Do NOT put your fresh fish in the freezer! Ideally, you want to prepare your fish the same night you buy it, but waiting one day is okay too.
Tasty Stand-Ins: How to Make the Chilean Sea Bass Recipe Without Chilean Sea Bass
If you absolutely cannot find super fresh Chilean Sea Bass, the next best fish substitute is black cod. Extremely flavorful without being “fishy”, black cod is the perfect substitute for Chilean Sea Bass. Like Chilean Sea Bass, black cod also had a sumptuous, melt-in-your-mouth buttery quality.
If neither Chilean Sea Bass or black cod are available, you can still make the Chilean Sea Bass recipe with flounder or cobia. Although you shouldn’t have to alter the cooking time much for the cobia, the flounder will cook quicker than the Chilean Sea Bass, so just keep a careful eye on it.
Overcooking is probably the second biggest mistake people make when cooking fish at home, by the way.
Sear Before You Bake
I am a huge fan of sear-baking rather than just baking my fish. Sear-baking is a technique where you quickly sear your fish in an ultra hot skillet and then finish it off in the oven. Searing gives the fish a beautiful golden crust and helps to seal in the moisture.
But before you sear, you definitely need a heavy skillet and the right oil to withstand high-heat temperatures. Because you need to get your skillet screaming hot before you add the fish, you need an oil that can withstand high-heat temperatures without breaking down into toxic byproducts and dangerous free radicals.
For most recipes that require searing, including the Chilean Sea Bass recipe below, I like to melt organic extra virgin coconut oil as the primary base oil (don’t worry, as long as you buy a super high quality organic, extra virgin coconut oil it will not taste “coconuty”) and then just before adding the fish I take a stick of grass-fed butter, hold the square, unwrapped tip of the butter stick on the bottom of the skillet and smear just a tad over the entire surface. Once the oil-butter is super, super hot, I add well-salted and ultra dry fish to the skillet and sear for about 30 to 45-seconds each side. By the way, no matter what fish you are cooking, you want your fish to be ultra dry and well salted before you start your recipe.
After I sear the fish, I transfer it to a baking dish, add the topping and move it to the oven to be baked….
Wait about 8 to 10 minutes while your fish bakes. I usually pour myself a glass of wine at this stage. Remove your fish from the oven, let it sit for at least 5 minutes (this will seal in the juices), serve with a big green salad and call it a night.
- 3/4 cup whole wheat Panko Crumbs
- 3/4 cup raw macadamia nut “crumbs” (see notes below)
- 2 tablespoons organic unrefined red palm oil
- 3 tablespoons Clean Cuisine Nut-Based Mayonnaise
- 3 scallions (green tops only, very thinly sliced)
- 2 teaspoons organic Worcestershire Sauce (such as Annie’s Naturals)
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 tablespoons orange zest
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha Sauce or other hot sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Pink Himalayan Sea Salt and Black Pepper (to taste)
- Organic (extra virgin coconut oil and grass-fed organic butter, for searing)
- 4 Chilean Sea Bass fillets or other firm white fish (approximately 6 ounces; 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick)
- Raw honey (for drizzling)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil the bottom of a baking dish.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the panko crumbs, macadamia nuts, red palm oil, Clean Cuisine Nut-Based Mayonnaise, scallions, Worcestershire Sauce, Dijon mustard, orange zest, Sriracha sauce (or other hot sauce), lemon juice; season with salt and pepper to taste. Set mixture aside.
- Pat the fish fillets completely dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Add about a tablespoon of coconut oil to a heavy skillet and use your hands to wipe the oil over the entire surface. Heat the skillet over high heat and once the oil is hot, quickly wipe just a bit of butter over the surface of the skillet. Add the fish fillets at once and sear for about 30 to 45 seconds each side. Transfer fillets to the prepared baking dish.
- Spread about 3 tablespoons of the Macadamia-Orange mixture over each fillet.
- Place the fillets in the preheated oven and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until fish is almost cooked through.
- Turn on the broiler and broil for about 2 minutes, or until topping is golden and crisp (Note: keep a very close eye on the fillets when broiling as each broiler is different and fish can burn in a matter of seconds!) When done, the fish should flake easily with a fork. Remove from oven and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving. Drizzle each fillet with a little bit of raw honey and serve warm.
To make the macadamia nut crumbs, put raw macadamia nuts in a mini food processor and process until crumb-like. Macadamia crumbs can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in a zip-lock bag in the freezer.
P.S. Looking for More Healthy Dinner Recipes?
If you liked the Chilean Sea Bass recipe, be sure to check out a full month’s menu of delicious healthy dinner recipes (including weekly shopping lists!) in our Clean Cuisine Dinners digital cookbook.