Food You Can Eat: Sea Bass in a Dill Sauce with Feta and Olives

Zorba, I'm sure, loved this

Image via That's The Better Half and I at Jones Beach, ca. 1964.

On 15 Aug., Year of Our Lord 2021, I posted in the NOT that—I’ll stop. Even I’m bored. But I made this for friends four years ago who had been to Greece and described it and it came back to me in a fever dream, let’s leave it at that. I made it again last August, by the time you read this. This recipe serves 2, if accompanied by rice, which it should be.

1 lb. sea bass*, 4 fillets @ 4 oz. per, scales removed. You can fillet and descale the sea bass yourself but it’s tedious so try to find fillets where someone has done this for you. The sea bass should be in rectangles, not cubes.

1/4 cup Greek yogurt, plain, and this might be the only time I recommend low-fat yogurt**

A little fresh dill from your convenient rooftop garden, about 1 tbsp. worth

Juice of 1/2 small lemon***

2 cloves garlic, minced

Some salt (not too much)

Some feta cheese, crumbled. You don’t need a lot of this, maybe 2 oz. maximum, but go easy with this.

As many pitted olives, sliced in half, as you want. If you use Greek olives like Kalamata you get extra credit.

  • When I researched what my friends might have had and what I agreed to make for them back in 2017, I learned that they had probably eaten lavraki. I cursed the gods. Might that be a Greek word for something more familiar? Yes, sea bass, but I bet even cheaper and more common whitefish would do, like haddock. 

** I only recommend low-fat Greek yogurt here because the addition of the olives and feta would sort of overwhelm you with fats. FAGE makes a decent version. I am a fan of rich sauces and normally cast a withering glare at 2% or fat-free anything dairy, but here I use it.

*** If you serve this with rice, as you should, you can squeeze the juice of the remaining 1/2-lemon over it. If you’re me, you make a flavored rice and quarter the remaining 1/2-lemon and add it to pre-dinner cocktails.


This all goes very quickly.

Fire up a broiler. In a small bowl whisk together the yogurt, dill, lemon juice, garlic, and a little salt if using. You can also just do this in the measuring cup itself, using a mini-whisk or even a spoon.

Put the four lavraki/sea bass/whitefish fillets on a baking pan with edges. The fillets must not overlap. You can salt the fish a little if you want. 

Spoon the yogurt/dill sauce over the center of the fillets and try not to let it drip over their sides. You might have made too much and with this definitely do not oversauce. 

Put the baking pan in the broiler near the heat source, mere scant inches away, for about 7 or 8 minutes, depending on your broiler. In any event the fish is done when it starts to flake so bother it with a fork until it bends to your will. 

Right when the pan comes out of the broiler, top with the feta so it melts in but does not become one with the fish and the sauce. Sprinkle some olive halves on top or arrange them around the sea bass. 


A concluding note: I could not for the life of me find any photo online that resembles this dish. That couple has since broken up but in the interest of FYCE research I called the one I am friends with (the other one I was friendly enough with but we weren’t exactly “friends”) and in my verbose way got around to asking if he remembered the name of the restaurant they had visited in much happier times lo those many years ago. “No, I don’t, and why the fuck are you bringing this up?” 

I couldn’t very well say, “I contribute recipes to a website but I can’t find a photo of what you had and then I subsequently made for you when you were still together. I thought the restaurant might have something online I could steal. You see, my phone and my photography skills are as crappy as ever, and Better Half is getting very suspicious about all of this—“ so instead I said, “Oh the wildfires in Greece. Terrible. I thought I heard something that reminded me of the place you guys went and was just curious if that restaurant you liked survived.” “Mattie, you need a job. Volunteer somewhere. Do some good while you can.” Wise words.



    • To be honest, I made this once for that now-bitter-enemies couple in 2017 and then once again over the summer for this FYCE. I think what I would change is make a full-fat yogurt sauce for the fish and forgo the feta, using that in a Greek side salad instead. This is really rich, and when I see a recipe that says something like “2 sticks butter, divided” I don’t blink, so that gives you some idea.

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