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Does Chilean Sea Bass come from Chile?

Chilean Sea Bass, also known as the Patagonian toothfish, lives in the deep waters in southern oceans near and around Antarctica. Chile’s southern tip reaches all the way down to Tierra del Fuego and Antarctica.

Chilean Sea Bass

Why is the Patagonian Toothfish called “Chilean Sea Bass”?

The US State Department reports:

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. It is a different species type than the sea bass caught in U.S. waters. Because of its white meat appeal, Chilean sea bass usually fetches premium prices in specialty markets and high-end restaurants. It is a deep-water fish that can live up to 50 years and grow to weigh over 200 pounds.

The popularity of Chilean Sea Bass has lead to overfishing and some danger to the fish population. Reporter Tom Brokaw, did some research into the vanishing Chilean Sea Bass and why it is so popular with chefs:

Tom Brokaw: “The fact is, you can see why restaurants and fish merchants love it; I mean it’s loaded with white fleshy fish.”

Bruce Knecht: “And you can feel the oil … you know, it’s almost as if it’s marinated. That’s what chefs like about it. That’s why it cooks so well.”

So while some Patagonian toothfish may come from Chilean territorial waters, not all Chilean Sea Bass comes from Chile.

Posted July 18th, 2008 in Ask Pepe, Food.

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  1. S for Kitchen Confit said:

    I had heard this some time ago, but I don’t think a lot of people realize this. Thanks for informing!

    July 18, 2008

  2. R said:

    Thanks for the article. That cleared this up a lot. Isn’t it kind of disingenuous to call it “Chilean” when it doesn’t all come from Chile, and a “sea bass” when it’s not even a bass? I think there are other foods that have this same situation going on. Now that I’ve read about this fish, I really want to try it!

    July 25, 2012

  3. Pepe said:

    @R – disingenuous, maybe. It is definitely a marketing ploy to get people to buy more of this fish. It is delicious.

    July 26, 2012

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