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Reeling In O.C.’s Best Dishes, Markets, Raw Bars and Wine Pairings
Chilean Sea Bass?
Your favorite white fish might just be an imposter
• Chilean sea bass, the firm white fish with the buttery flavor, might be more notable for what it isn’t than what it is. It’s not really a bass, it’s not always caught in Chilean waters, and it’s not endangered. So what is this mystery fish, and why all the confusion?
• Better known as Patagonian toothfish before 1980 and scientifically classified as Dissostichus eleginoides, this deep-water species lives as long as 50 years and is caught in waters near Antarctica.
• A high oil content gives it the buttery flavor and large flake that appeals to seafood lovers and draws premium prices in markets and upscale restaurants.
• Less expensive white-fleshed fish such as escolar, black cod, Pacific halibut, butterfish, sablefish, and white sea bass often masquerade as the real thing when shady sellers try to boost the bottom line.
• U.S. regulations allow imports of documented Chilean sea bass caught within legal limits based on sustainability and conservation protocols to prevent overfishing. But large, unreported catches make effective management difficult.
• The Marine Stewardship Council certifies fisheries that sell to markets and restaurants, and legitimate purveyors can produce “chain of custody” documentation. If you’re concerned about authenticity, call the restaurant or seafood market ahead of time.
This issue also includes:
Top Signature Dishes
Oysters and Raw Bars
The Fisher King
Wine and Brine
This article originally appeared in the December 2012 issue of Orange Coast magazine.