Pan Seared Striped Bass

Pan Seared Striped Bass

We just returned to reality from Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia.

[Cut to angelic harp sounds….]

Gorgeous dark green trees line the 500 miles of shoreline, and houses play hide and seek along the steep hills that surround the water. An ideal relaxation spot, and a throwback to the good ol’ days when swimming, fishing and wild imaginations were enough to make kids happy during a family vacation.

Our rental house had a whimsical view of the lake, almost as though we were perched high up in a tree house with a picture frame through the leaves. A little wisp of beach lined the bottom of our property’s sloping yard, making the perfect play spot for our young kids.

View of Smith Mountain Lake

[Back to reality…]

To sum it up simply, we had a blast last week. My husband borrowed a small boat from a friend, which we were able to dock right at our house. His goal? Catch enough fish for one meal during the week we were at Smith Mountain Lake.


Striped Bass

Sure, he broke the rod pulling this lovely striped bass into the boat, but once cleaned up (by yours truly and my mother, might I add), this one giant Striper was enough to feed four hungry adults.

I won’t go into the details of actually cleaning the fish, but I will say that it took some muscle and involved knives and “man hands” (for all you Seinfeld fans). Definitely not for the squeamish….

Six beautiful, meaty fillets later – it was time to think prep and cook. I had a marinade in mind….

Pan Seared Striped Bass

But as far as cooking technique…what to do? Grill? Bake? Pan sear? Ah…yes. Borrowing a technique from Anne Burrell, I decided a nice sear would go perfect.

Pan Seared Striped Bass
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Use the freshest fish you can find for this recipe!
Serves: 4 to 6
  • 6 striped bass fillets, 1″ thick, skin on
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil + ¼ cup for the pan
  • 1 lemon, juiced & zested
  • 2 Clementines, juiced & zested
  • 1 teaspoon salt + ¼ teaspoon
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup white wine (make sure it tastes good enough to drink)
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  1. Place the bass fillets skin side down in a baking dish large enough to hold them without overlapping too much.
  2. Whisk together ½ cup olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt with the remaining ingredients (except the sliced lemon) and pour the marinade over the bass, taking care to make sure each piece gets coated. Lay the lemon slices on top, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
  3. Take the bass out of the fridge 15 minutes before you’re ready to cook and pat the skin dry. Set aside on a plate to rest.
  4. Heat a large sautée pan over medium-high heat and add the ¼ cup olive oil. Rub the bottom of a medium sautée pan (yes, the bottom - trust Anne Burrell me here) with just enough olive oil to lightly coat it. Pour the marinade into a small sauce pot, add ¼ teaspoon salt, and heat until bubbly over medium while you sear the fillets.
  5. When the large pan’s good and hot, add 3 of the fillets – skin side down. Place the medium pan on top of the fillets and press down gently. This keeps the bass from curling up, helping the skin get good and crispy. Cook for 4 minutes and then remove the medium pan. Continue cooking for 2 more minutes, then use a spatula to gently flip the fillets. Finish cooking for 2 more minutes and then remove from the pan.
  6. Repeat the searing process with the remaining 3 bass fillets, and serve with the warmed marinade.

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  1. says

    This looks delish! The crazy fresh fish must have been amazing. I have had fish I caught myself two times, but I was a kid. Would love to again but someone else with some strong Man Hands would have to clean them (my dad did the cleaning!).

  2. says

    @JD – It had been nearly 20 years since I last cleaned a fish, and that was at my grandmother’s side. I will tell you this, a sharp knife makes all the difference…just like in most cooking cases.


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