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Chilean Sea Bass is really the Patagonian Toothfish!

Chilean Sea Bass is really the Patagonian Toothfish!

Deliciously Poached Chilean Sea Bass over Watermelon Radish, Blood Oranges, and Pomegranate, seasoned with Pink Peppercorns and Fennel Salt, garnished with Fried Fennel, Fennel Fonds, and Pomegranate Seeds

Did you know, that Chilean sea bass is not a type of bass…it’s a cod…what???

Welcome to the Patagonian Toothfish. A fish once tossed back as “by-catch” made its way into expensive restaurants fetching $50 and up.

Have we been duped for years? A pure marketing maneuver;  if I may say, a wildly prosperous one!

Chilean Sea Bass aka Patagonia Toothfish

Really, if you had a choice, would you buy “Patagonia Toothfish” or “Chilean Sea Bass” ? The idea alone, of choosing toothfish…I am thinking, should I come prepare to pull teeth or bring dental floss?

According to an article from Oceana : “Adult Patagonian toothfish reach lengths of up to 7.5 feet (more than 2 m) and weights of 220 pounds (100 kg).  These largest adults live near the bottom, in very deep water (over 12,000 feet/3800 m), where they hunt other fishes, squids, and crustaceans.  They are known to be the occasional prey of deep-diving mammals like sperm whales and southern elephant seals.

This species reproduces via broadcast spawning, where several females release their eggs and several males release their sperm into the water column at the same time.  This method increases the likelihood that eggs will become fertilized and increases the genetic variability in the population. Patagonian toothfish are relatively slow to mature, with individuals becoming reproductively active at 8-10 years old.”

After one reads this, its sounds like reproduction of this species is susceptible to over industrial fishing, besides the attack from with illegal transfer of IUU (Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated) fishing vessels.

The Antarctic Toothfish, like other Arctic fish have a special protein in their blood that causes them not to freeze in sub-zero temperatures (I always wondered about that) unlike it’s Patagonia sister). The Antarctic and Southern Ocean fisheries are managed well. But it is still hard to identify without detail labeling what “we” the consumer is actually buying, while it is targeted and sold under the name of Chilean sea bass.

Anyway you look at it, this luscious, fictitiously named “Chilean Sea Bass” is just so damn delicious! There is no really other fish that comes close…maybe Black Cod…not. So when next time, you are coughing up the greenbacks for this exotic tasting fish remember the expense and dangers of fishing in the Antarctic and Southern regions. That is why our beloved “Chilean Sea Bass”  costs a small fortune. Just make sure you ask your fish monger where The Chilean Sea Bass is from…and choose the “The Antarctica Toothfish” which is sustainable.

Check out my recipe for oh so ugly fish, yet soooo buttery delicious… Poached Chilean Sea Bass. It’s one of the Fabulous Five!

To the last meatball…

Chef Gerrie

When you think of the country of Chile, exotic thoughts come to mind… Chilean fishermen catching this top dollar fish off their coastline. It wasn’t until 1990 when you started hearing about the wonderful rich and buttery taste of the Chilean sea bass being served out of popular upscale restaurants.

Back then, Chilean sea bass was only about $7- $10 per pound. Chef’s went crazy in promoting it. Due to its popularity as the most mouthwatering, rich flavor and a more healthier high protein option than red meat…led to increase demand, and the price went up tremendously.

Bottom line,  the fishing industry put lipstick on this ugly fish and gave it a more sexy name as “Chilean Sea Bass” to lure in seafood buyers. They new what they had, a large fish with white meat that has a fabulous taste and a sinful mouth-feel. The high fat content gives it a rich, buttery, melt in your mouth sensation of large tender flakes when cooked. 

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