Pan Fried Chilean Sea Bass & Pinot Noir from Carneros


Whenever my friends in New York tell me how cold it is there, I always say “thank God I came back to California!”. I don’t miss winter in NYC, but I do miss the beautiful white Christmases. Several years ago, I went trekking through the Patagonian Mountains & glaciers of Chile during the Christmas holidays. The beauty of nature was simply jaw-dropping.  Every corner I turned my head, I felt like I was inside the fairy tale.  The Chileans were also very friendly and open.  I had the privilege of spending a Christmas with a warm, loving Chilean family I had met in the train station.  Remembering some amazing fish I’d eaten with them, I’m making pan fried Chilean Sea Bass from Patagonia this week.

Some of you probably wonder, “Shouldn’t Chilean Sea Bass be avoided for sustainability sake?” I can’t agree with you more. I usually don’t eat Chilean Sea Bass, but you can find a place to buy Marine Stewardship Council certified (a.k.a. sustainable) Chilean Sea Bass via this website.

If you still don’t feel comfortable with it, you can substitute my recipe with striped bass, halibut, or cod fish from Alaska or British Columbia. I eat those all the time.

Chilean Sea Bass is a very flavorful fish with a buttery, tender texture.  To bring out its delightfully natural taste, I marinate one pound Chilean Sea Bass with a light sauce for 30 minutes at room temperature. My marinade includes ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, the juice from a lemon, ½ teaspoon sea salt, ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and some fresh Italian parsley leaves. I pan fry it for 5 minutes on each side until it turns golden brown. Every bite of Chilean Sea Bass melts in my mouth like butter. And, what a delicacy its crispy skin is! I wish sustainable Chilean Sea Bass were more widely available.

I pair the pan fried Chilean Sea Bass with 2007 Cuvaison “estate grown” Pinot Noir from Carneros in California. Aged in small French oak barrels for 11 months, this wine has mouth watering flavors of strawberry, cherry, and pomegranate with hints of clove and lavender and a silky mouth feel. The marriage of this subtle red wine to the Chilean sea bass is elegant.  If you are looking for some interesting special meal ideas for the upcoming holidays, consider this delicious recipe and wine. Happy holidays, everyone!

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