Chilean Sea Bass

Did you know that this delicious fish is actually called “Patagonian Toothfish?” That doesn’t sound so appetizing. Lee Lantz in 1977 decided that the name wasn’t suitable for the American fish market. He thought it needed to be changed in order to make it more appealing. I don’t think I would have cared what it was called. Tooth fish or sea bass, call it what you like. It’s all just deliciousness.

I remember the first time I ate this fish. It was probably about 20 years ago. I was at a friend’s house. She baked the sea bass and served it over a bed of garlic-mashed potatoes. I took the first bite and it melted in my mouth. I loved how it was crisp on the out side and moist and tender inside. This fish literally melts in your mouth like butter. From that day on, sea bass has been my absolute favorite fish. My only problem now is that it is really expensive. So, it has to be served on special occasions or when a really generous friend brings it to you.

A few months ago, I went to the store, not knowing the expense. I waltzed up to the fish counter and said, “I would like enough sea bass to feed seven people.” I was so naive. He handed me the package and I saw the price. I walked away in disbelief. I was dazed and confused. I walked over to Claud who was checking out the meat. I am sure he was wishing I were cooking some thick juicy steak instead of the fish I planned to prepare. I showed him the package and asked if I should just take it back and tell the guy across the counter that I changed my mind. We could have just taken everyone out to dinner instead. Claud said, forget it, we’ll just do it. He knew I would be so embarrassed to return it. I wonder if you even can return a package of fish after you walk away? Thank goodness, he gave me the all clear so I didn’t have to experience that shame.

That night, I made a pistachio and Panko bread crumb crusted sea bass and it was fabulous. I was happy to see the empty plates and my satisfied friends. I didn’t care at that point how much it cost.

This week, my friend Karen came over to eat dinner with us. She called me up earlier in the week and said she and her fiance would like to eat dinner at our house but only if they could bring the food and the wine. They would like it if I cooked the food. That was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Of course, I said yes. It’s so nice when friends offer to do this. The last time this happened, Dan and Kathy Grothem brought over some delicious food to our house in Hanska. If I remember correctly, they actually cooked the food they brought that night. That was extra special. It was a pasta Alfredo with teriyaki pork. I hope I am remembering it right. One thing I remember for sure is that it was so delicious.

To my complete delight and surprise, Karen came in with some of the most delicious bottles of wine, enough sea bass for everyone, mushrooms and some really good butter. Yes, there is butter and there is also some really good creamy European butter. They were really spoiling us. I had already made the salad and the roasted potatoes.

With this kind of fish, there is not much preparation necessary. All I needed was a touch of olive oil, some lemons, salt and pepper. I thought I would make it extra special by creating a sauce that would make the whole dish more special and extra delicious. So, I decided to throw together a Mediterranean sauce with kalamata olives, red onions and capers. Of course, I needed to add a bit of the perfect butter. This was an extra special decadent meal. Thank goodness for amazing and generous friends.

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