Grilled sea bass with sauce vierge

Succulent grilled sea bass topped with glorious sauce vierge – a deliciously simple French-inspired mixture of ripe tomatoes, herbs, garlic, lemon & olive oil.

Do you remember where you were the first time you ate a particular thing? Obviously not everything, but things that were exciting, surprising, or just amazingly delicious? I certainly remember the first time I ate fish with sauce vierge. It was about 15 years ago, and it’s still one of my favourite things to eat – so simple, and so, so delicious.

Pesach en France

Perhaps the reason I can pin it down so exactly is that it was also slightly unusual circumstances. I was in Cannes, in the South of France. My family and some close friends were at a Pesach programme in a fancy hotel. I’m not sure why we went, as we weren’t in the habit of going away for Pesach, but it was rather wonderful and very indulgent.

Formal dining

Dinner each evening was four courses – starter, fish, meat, and dessert. I didn’t eat the meat course and usually the three other courses were plenty for me! But I was always offered a second portion of the fish, and I’m pretty sure I had seconds of the wonderful fish with sauce vierge. It was too delicious to resist!

Sauce Vierge

Sauce vierge is a traditional French sauce which became popular in the 1980s and is most simply made from tomatoes, garlic, basil, lemon juice and olive oil. There are various other optional extras, such as soft herbs like parsley, tarragon or chives, spices like coriander, or even things like capers, lemon zest or olives. The ingredients are mixed together and the flavours allowed to mingle. That’s it! It couldn’t be easier and the result is just sublime.

The recipe here is the one that I created to replicate the dish I ate in Cannes, and have made many, many times since. It is particularly good at this time of year when the tomatoes are really ripe and flavourful, and the herbs can be picked fresh from the garden. But in the depths of winter I still call on it, to bring a ray of Mediterranean sunshine to our table. DH loves it too. His face lights up when he hears that this is on the menu.

Versatile and delicious

I’ve served the sauce vierge here with grilled sea bass fillet, but it goes really well with any white fish, so feel free to spoon generously over cod, haddock or hake. It’s also lovely with lightly steamed vegetables or potatoes, and you can even just stir it into couscous or quinoa for a quick and tasty side dish. Have some bread on hand to soak up the deliciously flavoured oil.

This recipe makes enough for 3-4 portions of sauce vierge, but I usually make extra.

Succulent grilled fish topped with glorious sauce vierge - a deliciously simply French-inspired mixture of ripe tomato, herbs, garlic, lemon & evoo.

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sea bass sauce vierge
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5 from 4 votes

Grilled sea bass with sauce vierge

Delicate white fish, cooked to perfection and blanketed with this delicious French sauce, full of Mediterranean flavours.
Course Main Course
Cuisine French, Mediterranean
Servings 4
Author Helen


  • 100 g cherry or baby plum tomatoes
  • 1.5-2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1.5-2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 0.5 tsp coriander seed, crushed
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 200 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 sea bass fillets
  • salt and pepper
  • Few tsp olive oil


  • First make the sauce vierge. Cut the tomatoes into fine dice - about 5mm size. Place in a bowl with the parsley, basil, crushed coriander seeds, sliced garlic, lemon juice and olive oil, and mix gently. Set aside to macerate and allow the flavours to combine.
  • Preheat the grill (broiler) to medium high. Line a baking sheet with foil and brush with a little oil.
  • Pat the sea bass fillets dry with kitchen paper and place on the prepared tray. Brush a little olive oil over the fish and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook the fish under the grill (broiler) for 4-6 minutes until just cooked through. Remove from the grill and allow to cool slightly before serving.
  • To serve, place each sea bass fillet onto a plate and spoon a generous amount of the sauce vierge over and around the fish. Serve warm or at room temperature.


If you like grilled fish, how about crispy grilled mackerel with garlic and lemon, or plaice grilled with orange-herb butter. 

With all it’s delicious summer tomatoes, I’m linking this up with Simple & In Season hosted by Feeding Boys.
I’m also joining in with CookBlogShare, hosted by Hijacked By Twins.



  1. 5 stars
    I love the look of this light summer meal – such a gorgeously simple recipe perfect for this time of year. Thanks for sharing it with us on Simple and in Season xxx

  2. 5 stars
    This looks absolutely delicious and just the kind of summery meal I love – light and tasty!

  3. 5 stars
    This looks amazing. I have never tried sauce vierge but I really want to make it now. Yummy!

  4. 5 stars
    I definitely don’t remember the first time I had sauce Vierge as I don’t think I’ve had it before, well not this exact dish though plenty of similar things. I just wrote an ode to Salad Nicoise – also a S.France thing. They’re big on tasty dishes. Def going to try your version!

  5. What a deliciously light and summery meal. This is an ideal meal in my books. Thank you for sharing with #CookBlogShare x

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