Sea Bass With Pesto And Salsa

Sea bass with pesto and salsa

We’re so often disappointed with the quality of sea bass on fishmonger counters. All too often, the eyes are cloudy, the gills are a dull colour, and the odour is a dead giveaway that the fish has seen better days.

The oldest trick in the book is for fishmongers to fillet their sub-prime produce so that many of the telltale clues regarding its freshness are removed. That’s why whenever we see a whole, top-quality sea bass with crystal-clear eyes, bright red gills, and shiny scales, we snap it up.

This fish's meaty texture and bold flavour means it can be paired with other strong flavours, making it a prime candidate for enjoying with pesto.

Recommended equipment
Fish weight

Pro tip
To achieve super-crispy skin, make sure the fish is bone dry and use a fish weight to ensure every part of the skin is in contact with the hot oil.

Ingredients for two

Sea bass x1
Beef tomato x1
Red pepper x1
Red Onion x1
Avocado x1
Lime x1
Pesto 50g
Chilli optional
Fresh herbs optional
Seasoning to taste
Vegetable oil as needed
Olive oil as needed

Choose the freshest-looking sea bass you can find and ask your fishmonger to fillet it and remove the pin bones if you’re not confident doing it yourself. Using your sharpest knife, score the skin side to increase the amount of surface area that will be in contact with the oil when you cook it.

Quarter the tomato and red pepper, discard the seeds, pat dry, and chop into pea-size cubes.

Dice the chilli (if using) and the red onion as finely as your knife skills allow.

Scoop out the avocado and dice it into cubes. Squeeze a generous glug of fresh lime over to help slow down the browning process, and gently mix with all the other salsa ingredients. Season with a little salt and pepper, arrange in the centre of your fanciest plates, and drizzle over a little olive oil.

Season your sea bass fillets confidently with sea salt flakes and pan-fry in vegetable oil, skin-side down. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the skin becomes crispy and the flesh starts to turn from translucent to opaque. Flip the fillet over and fry for one minute more before arranging it on top of the salsa with little dollops of pesto as a garnish.

Serving suggestions
Skinny French fries
Seasonal green salad
Creamed leeks and spinach
Crusty garlic sourdough
Baked anchovy-potatoes