The most important etiquette rules on how to serve and eat sea bass. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest at the dining table.

sea bass

What sea bass etiquette is

Sea bass etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat sea bass. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow sea bass etiquette to serve it to your guests appropriately.

If you are a guest, respect sea bass etiquette rules to properly eat and enjoy it.

What you should know about sea bass

Sea bass is a fish. It lives mostly in saltwater, such as in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean. Several varieties exist. Its flesh is firm and white, and has a delicate flavor.

How To Serve And Eat Sea Bass: The Top 6 Etiquette rules

Etiquette rules to serve and eat sea bass

1) How to store sea bass

It is best to eat sea bass right away. Do not leave sea bass outside, at room temperature, for over 2 hours.  

You can store raw sea bass in the fridge for 1 or 2 days. Cooked sea bass can last 3 to 4 days.

Alternatively, you can store raw sea bass in the freezer. It can last for up to 2 to 3 months. Cooked sea bass can last up to 4 months in the freezer.

2) How to clean sea bass

Do not rinse sea bass before cooking. According to the USDA, washing raw fish before cooking risks spreading bacteria. 

Place sea bass on a flat surface such as a cutting board. Hold it by the tail with one hand. With your other hand, scrape the sea bass with a knife to remove the scales. Scrape from the tail toward the head.

3) How to cook sea bass

You can cook sea bass in multiple ways. Bake, bake in salt, roast, sauté, pan-sear, or grill. You can cook sea bass whole, or cook sea bass filets.

Cook sea bass thoroughly to avoid food poisoning. Fresh sea bass should cook at a temperature of at least 65°C (145°F).

4) How to serve & present sea bass

Serve sea bass whole or in filets. 

If you serve sea bass whole, you should clean it on the serving plate. Then, proceed to serve your guests, or pass the serving plate around.

To serve a whole sea bass, first cut it into two halves along its spine, from head to tail. Leave the head and the tail intact. Start from the head, hold the fish still with a fork, and cut the belly open from head to tail with a knife. Gently open the fish into two parts. 

Plate and serve one piece at a time. Do not serve random pieces here and there. Follow an order, starting from the head and working your way down to the tail. Do not flip the sea bass over to reach the meat on the other side of the spine. Instead, gently lift the spine and remove the flesh from beneath.

5) Foods and wine to pair sea bass with

Sea bass goes well with several vegetables. Potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus. Sea bass can be an ingredient for pasta or risotto.

Do not pair sea bass with meat or dairy products.

Pair sea bass with white wine. Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, white Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Albariño, Vermentino, or Greco di Tufo. Do not pair sea bass with red wine.

6) How to eat sea bass

If sea bass is served whole on a serving dish, serve yourself with a few whole pieces of flesh. Use the serving utensils to place the flesh on your plate.

Eat sea bass with a fish fork and a fish knife. Do not use the knife to cut the flesh. Instead, use it to part in small bite-sized pieces. 

Look out for small bones, but do not make a mess or get obsessed with finding them. If you encounter a small bone in your mouth, discreetly remove it with your fingers. Place it on one side of your plate.

sea bass etiquette mistakes

Sea bass etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst sea bass etiquette mistakes. 

  • 9/10. Serving spoiled sea bass.
  • 7/10. Serving and plating sea bass without an order.
  • 6/10. Pairing sea bass with meat or dairy.
  • 5/10. Pairing sea bass with red wine.
  • 4/10. Using your knife to cut sea bass.

Additional information for properly serving sea bass

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.

Sea bass contains about 124 calories per 100 grams. An individual serving is usually 225 grams (½  pound) per person. It contains around 280 calories.

How to buy the best sea bass

A crucial factor in sea bass etiquette is to serve the best product possible to your guests.

Season and availability 

The seasons for sea bass vary based on the variety, the habitat, and the region.

Choose the best

To buy the best sea bass, choose whole fish with clear eyes and fresh shiny skin. If you buy a cut or a filet, choose sea bass with bright white skin.

Alternatives to sea bass

Popular substitutes for sea bass are branzino or cod.


Do you wash sea bass? No, do not wash sea bass before cooking. Just remove its scales with a knife or a spoon.

Do you need to descale sea bass? It is best to remove the scales with a knife or a spoon.

Can you eat the skin of sea bass? You can eat the skin of sea bass if you remove the scales and you cook the fish properly, at a minimum temperature of 65°C (145°F).

Can you eat sea bass raw? No, undercooked sea bass has a high risk of bacteria. You should cook sea bass at a temperature of at least 65°C (145°F).