Crispy-Skinned Sea Bass with Spicy Tomato Butter

We’re making crispy-skinned sea bass today with the most irresistible spicy tomato butter. It’s a simple summer recipe that hopefully becomes a staple in your kitchen.

Crispy-Skinned Sea Bass

This crispy-skinned sea bass recipe came together on a whim when I had a pound of cherry tomatoes that I wanted to use up, along with a piece of sea bass in the fridge that I wanted for dinner. The idea of a spicy tomato butter sounded perfect to make, then let melt in the pan as the sea bass finished cooking.

The best part is that you can do this with any fish (or really any seafood). Once the fish has just about 30 seconds left of cooking, you add a heaping amount of the butter. It creates a silky smooth, flavorful sauce for the fish.

Crispy-Skinned Sea Bass

Here I’m making a crispy-skinned sea bass, so you want the fish nice and dry before cooking. The best way to dry out the skin is to leave it uncovered, skin-side up in the fridge for about an hour before you’re ready to go. Don’t add any salt at this point or else moisture will be drawn out. The key is skin that is as dry as possible before it hits the hot oil so it doesn’t steam or stick.

Normally, you’d want to baste the fish with the butter…but since we’ve got crispy skin, I’m just swirling the butter around in the pan until it’s melted. Then, spooning the sauce onto the plate first and setting the fish right on top.

A few quick garnishes of thinly sliced radishes, scallions, and fresh garden thyme are the finishing touches. It’s an oh-so-fresh summertime dish that comes together pretty effortlessly. Serve some potatoes and vegetables alongside for a perfect meal.

Also! Make sure to save the extra spicy tomato butter – it’s beyond good and perfect spread onto toast, tossed with pasta, smeared over steak, etc. I’ll be sharing a way to repurpose it this coming week, so stay tuned for that recipe!


Crispy-Skinned Sea Bass with Spicy Tomato Butter

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crispy-skinned sea bass with spicy tomato butter, radishes, scallions, and thyme

serves: 2

  • Author: Kayla Howey



Spicy Tomato Butter

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb cherry tomatoes
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes (or more if desired)
  • ½ lb unsalted butter, softened

Crispy-Skinned Sea Bass

  • 2 pieces of skin-on sea bass
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 1 radish, very thinly sliced
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • fresh thyme leaves
  • flaky sea salt


Spicy Tomato Butter

  1. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, cherry tomatoes, salt, and red pepper flakes.
  2. Let the tomatoes cook for about 5 minutes until burst open and starting to caramelize, stirring often.
  3. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook about 10 minutes longer.
  4. Turn off the heat and let the tomatoes cool.
  5. Combine the cooled tomatoes with the softened butter in a food processor. Blend until smooth and incorporated.
  6. Reserve about 6 tablespoons of tomato butter at room temperature until ready to use for the sea bass. Cover and store the remaining butter in the fridge for another use.

Crispy-Skinned Sea Bass

  1. *Do ahead* – Allow the sea bass to sit uncovered, skin-side up in the fridge for about an hour before cooking to dry out.
  2. Move the sea bass to room temperature for about 10 minutes.
  3. Heat a stainless-steel pan over medium heat. Add enough oil to just coat the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the sea bass with a pinch of salt on both sides. When the oil is hot, place the sea bass into the oil, skin-side down. Use a fish spatula to firmly press down onto the fish, helping the skin lay flat.
  4. Allow to cook for a few minutes until the fish is almost opaque and the skin is crispy (don’t try to flip until the skin naturally releases on its own). Flip the sea bass over and finish cooking on the other side for just another minute or so.
  5. Turn off the heat and add about 6 tablespoons of spicy tomato butter to the pan. Swirl the butter around until melted.
  6. Spoon the butter onto a plate and place the sea bass right on top, skin-side up. Garnish with the sliced radishes, scallions, thyme leaves, and flaky sea salt.


The spicy tomato butter recipe makes more than you need for two pieces of sea bass. You can easily store it and use it for another purpose, or if you’re cooking for more people, the butter can probably work for up to 8-10 pieces of sea bass (just prep a little bit more of each garnish).

Crispy-Skinned Sea Bass

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