Walking into Whole Foods, a local grocery store, we noticed their promotion for Patagonian toothfish. In the seafood case, the fish was labeled as Chilean sea bass, its usual name. We thought Chilean sea bass was endangered and were surprised that Whole Foods would sell it, but a web search disclosed that the fish can be sustainably caught. We returned to Whole Foods to buy a piece for our New Year’s Eve dinner, and the fish was excellent — flakey, moist, and rich.
According to the US Department of Commerce, “Chilean sea bass is a deep-water species also
known as toothfish, caught in southern ocean waters near and around Antarctica. The Chileans
were the first to market toothfish commercially in the United States, earning it the name Chilean sea bass, although it is really not a bass and it is not always caught in Chilean waters.” No wonder we’re a little confused about this fish!
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch lists two fisheries as sustainable. “Longline-caught Chilean seabass from the Heard and McDonald Islands, the Falkland Islands and Macquarie Island are a “Best Choice” because of effective management practices that have ramped up to preserve an abundant population, and mitigated the effects of catching unwanted species. Each of these toothfish fisheries are certified as sustainable to the standard of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).”
We’ve been served baked Chilean sea bass at restaurants, and we were eager to try preparing it after learning that the fish can be sustainably harvested.
We baked the fish on aluminum foil to ease cleanup. The fish was moist and rich, perhaps because it’s from cold water. The flesh flakes nicely. We’ll try this again. It’s expensive, so catching it on sale helps.