Chilean Sea Bass? It’s Made Up!


Go to Korea and ask for Korean BBQ. You’ll be directed to a bulgogi restaurant. Go to France and ask for French fries. You’ll be directed to a gourmet restaurant called McDonald’s. Go to Chile and ask for Chilean sea bass and you’ll receive perplexed looks.

After a day of wine tasting, I needed to eat. Naturally, I thought that Chile would be home to the best Chilean sea bass. When I asked the host at Laura Hartwig for a restaurant that served it, he looked at me like I was crazy. He proceeded to Google Chilean sea bass and still had no idea what it was.

After conducting my own investigation, I learned that there’s no such thing as Chilean sea bass in Chile. Like Patron, it is a hoax purported by marketers to get Americans to pay a premium for novelty. Hake, the distant, ugly cousin of the Antarctic toothfish, is exported to the US and marketed as Chilean sea bass. While it may taste better than standard sea bass, it does not make it worthy of its high price point in restaurants.

‘Chilean Sea Bass’ at Casa Colchugua

Before heading back to Santiago, I had to try Chilean fish, no matter what it was called. Everyone in town recommended Casa Colchagua. I ordered the ‘hake’ aka ‘Chilean sea bass’ and was impressed. In contrast, whether it’s Peruvian or Chilean, I am not a fan of the pisco sour. On the other hand, after ordering the Chilean ceviche, I can definitively say that I prefer the Peruvian style. 

Pisco sour
Crab bake and Ceviche
The fraudulent Chilean sea bass

This experience makes me wonder what other marketing tricks I have fallen for. Next I’m going to find out that Foster’s isn’t Australian for beer. And Olive Garden isn’t authentic Italian food.


  1. I’d heard that it was called Patagonian Toothfish. With a name like that, I can see why it didn’t sell much. What’s in the bowls on the plates? They look good.

  2. There was an article some time ago explaining that about half of all fish marketed around world is mislabeled. Even many seafood labeled “Sustainably fished/farmed/harvested” and such in fact is not.
    At fish market in Santiago has most of the local seafood – check it out if you don’t mind fish smell 😉

    Same with much of “All natural ingredients” labels – i.e. sugar doesn’t grow on a tree, ans corn syrup is not pouring out of a corn stalk 🙁

    One of the authentic hoaxes with name brands is “Budweiser” – stolen from original “Budwar” beer from Ceske Budejovice

  3. Hey, just wanted to pass by and say there’s no such thing as “chilean ceviche”, that was probably made up at the restaurant, in Chile everyone knows ceviche is a Peruvian dish and people aren’t trying to do a copy of it, so of course the Peruvian one will be better. If you are still in Santiago this weekend, try to go to Piknic Électronik this saturday at Parquemet !

    • I try to remain patient when I address comments but I can’t help myself when I read something like this. Did you notice that Korea was a hyperlink? Please click on it. That addresses sentence two.

      For sentence one, it’s a joke!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • What a charming assertion. No doubt you make your living from your social graces, rather than spewing stupid crap without reason or cause.

  4. Hey, I just got here because I was searching for Chilean sea bass and now I can stop looking at your pisco sour picture and I have so many questions, am I seeing bubbles? Was that salt on the rim of the glass? Let me tell you it doesn’t look like a pisco sour at all (I’m Peruvian btw). I hope you were able to give it a try in a Peruvian restaurant.

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