Site Overlay

Chilean Sea Bass with a Vin Blanc Sauce and Herbed Risotto: Putting My Education to Work

Those of you that know me personally may not believe this, but I freely admit that there is a fair amount that I do not know.  Well, that may be an overstatement, but there are certainly a few things I don’t know.

To rectify this shortcoming, at least as far as cooking is concerned, I’m taking some culinary classes.  This is good on several points, the least of which is that it keeps me off the streets when I’m not off cooking somewhere.

In addition, I’m learning a few tricks along the way.  

Those velvety sauces I could never quite get right?  Well, they’re called “sauce veloute,” and they just take a little roux and time to make. And risotto? Not such a beast after all.  At least not if you know what you’re doing…By the way, this was done at my last Tasting Thursday.

Chilean Sea Bass with A Vin Blanc Sauce and Herbed Risotto

What You Need

2 lbs sea bass, skin removed (thin-ish filets)


  • 2 cups dry white wine (go for a french burgundy)
  • 4-6 stems worth of parsley leaves
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 oz. (by weight) unsalted butter
  • 2 oz. (by weight) flour
  • 1 1/2 qt. fish fumet


  • 1 lb. arborio rice
  • 1 medium shallot, finely diced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1  oz. (by weight) butter
  • 1 oz. (by volume) olive oil
  • 3 oz. grated parmesan cheese
  • 48 oz. chicken stock
  • 1 stem tarragon (reserve leaves & mince)
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed into a paste

 What To Do With It

Vin Blanc Sauce

Put the wine, shallots, parsley & bay leaf in a pot.  Bring to a boil & simmer on medium-low heat until reduced by half.

Make a blond roux with the flour and butter.  Add to the fumet, boil & let simmer about an hour on low. Add the reduced wine and season to taste. (If the thickness isn’t quite right, make a beurre manie (equal parts by weight of flour and butter), and add to the sauce: simmer about another 10 minutes to get the starchiness out.


Put about 2 cups chicken stock in a pot. Drop in the tarragon stem and garlic, and let simmer on low for about 15 minutes to infuse the flavor.  Add the rest of the stock, and heat up.

At about the same time you start cooking your fish (see below), in a separate pot over medium heat add the butter and oil.  Add the shallots and sweat.  Add your rice and stir until the grains are well-coated with oil. 

Now add the stock, 6 ounces at a time. Stir over medium until the liquid is absorbed, and the rice is almost dry.

Lather, rinse, repeat. 

Keep going until the rice is tender, but still firm.  It will be creamy, but not runny (about 30 minutes).  Remove from heat, add the minced tarragon, butter and parmesan, and season to taste.


Preheat an oven to 350. 

Heat a cast iron skillet or similar heavy pan over medium-high heat.  Cut your fish into 4-8 pieces.  Add oil with a high smoke point to the pan (grape seed works), and plop in your fish.   Cook for about 6 minutes per side (don’t worry it).  You should have a nice, brown sear. 

Place the pan in the oven for about 7-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of your filets (you want an interior temp of about 145).

We served this with the wine we used for cooking (Pierre Qui Roule Chardonnay), as well as a viognier.  Both worked quite well.  Oh, and I also made a raspberry creme brulee with turbinado sugar on top, which we served with a bottle of moscato d’asti.!