Sea bass is a beautiful fish. The fillets are perfect for frying and have an almost creamy flavour with a lovely thin crispy skin.
When I weaned my boys onto real food at 6 months, I used to give them a lot of sea bass as they found the soft flesh so easy to eat and they seriously loved the delicate taste.
A lot of the supermarkets sell sea bass fillets individually wrapped in 10 portion bags. Whenever I see them on promotion, I buy a bag and put it in the freezer (sea bass freezes perfectly). As the fillets are so thin they defrost within ½ hour and sometimes when I’ve forgotten to get them out of the freezer in time I hold a plastic wrapped fillet under a tap of running hot water and they defrost in minutes!
Don’t worry about the fish becoming greasy from frying in oil. If the pan and oil are very hot when the flour coated fillet goes in, the big round starch molecules in the flour open up and entangle with each other to form a matrix structure around the fish. The oil fries the outside flour matrix to make it crispy but it does not penetrate to the flesh inside which steams gently to cook through.
Eat the sea bass fillets with salad in the summer or a huge plate of roast potatoes in the winter. I added some red and orange pepper chunks, baby plum tomatoes, onion, garlic and rosemary to the potatoes I roasted in the picture.
Miraculous ingredients: sea bass fillets, extra virgin olive oil
Pan fried sea bass fillets
Sea bass fillets, with their skin on, one per person
50g plain flour
Extra virgin olive oil (for frying)
Coarse sea salt to season
Remove the sea bass fillets from their packaging and pat dry with kitchen paper. Spread the flour on a large plate and press each fillet into the flour to completely coat the front and back. Shake off any excess flour.
Place a medium size frying pan onto a medium heat to warm through, approx. 5 minutes. I use the medium size ring on my gas hob and turn it to high.
Line a large plate with kitchen paper and place it next to your cooker.
When the frying pan is hot, add a good amount of olive oil to the frying pan; it should be about 1cm deep. Give the oil a minute to heat up.
Take a sea bass fillet and dangle the tail end into the oil. If it sizzles like crazy then the oil is hot enough. Carefully slide the sea bass fillets into the pan, skin side down. Do not over crowd the pan as it will cause the temperature of the oil to drop and the fish will boil rather than fry. You might have to fry in batches.
Fry the fillets for 2-3 minutes and then very carefully shake the pan to check the skin hasn’t stuck to the bottom. Turn the fillets to fry on the flesh side – I use a combination of tongs and spatula to lift the fillets so they don’t break in half. Fry for another 2 minutes and then carefully lift out of the pan and place on the kitchen paper lined plate and season with coarse sea salt.
Preparation 5 minutes, cooking 10 minutes, 1 sea bass fillet per adult, ½ a fillet per child