In the quest for new and more environmentally sustainable seafood offerings, barramundi has landed with a big splash among diners and chefs. Also known as Asian sea bass, this new seafood offering comes from Australia, the home of Vegemite, fairy bread and Pavlova (but may soon be more popular than all of them). The name is an Aboriginal term that means “large-scaled silver fish”.
The Better Fish
If you’ve heard “the better fish” used as a way to describe barramundi, that’s the work of Australis Aquaculture, a leading producer of sustainable seafood that’s been working to popularize the fish in the United States. The company is headquartered in Turners Falls, Massachusetts, where it operates one of the world’s largest recirculating aquaculture operations in the world.
Why diners love it
There’s a big health halo around barramundi. It’s a farmed species with a difference, because it’s so hardy that it can be farmed “clean,” without the use of antibiotics or hormones. Nutritionally, it’s a powerhouse, with the highest Omega-3s of any white fish, and about the same amount as an equal serving of coho salmon.
It always helps to offer diners a comparison when offering a new menu item, so you can tell diners that barramundi is similar in texture and appearance to firm white-fleshed fish like snapper and sole. When diners are looking for a mild flavored, lean protein with a strong sustainability promise, barramundi will be a great choice.
Why cooks love it
“Barramundi solves some of chefs’ biggest seafood challenges,” says Julie Qiu, Australis’ Marketing Director. “It’s always consistent and easy-to-cook.” After a quick sauté, the fish emerges with a crisp skin, large, white flakes and a meaty texture. It’s considered to be easier to prepare than other comparable white fish, such as striped bass. Even better, it’s available year-round, and its price point is reasonable compared to other seafood options.
One big barramundi fan is seafood chef Rick Moonen. Known as the Godfather of Sustainability, he’s a vocal proponent of sustainable fishing practices. He’s the owner of sustainable seafood restaurant, Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood, located in Las Vegas’ Mandalay Place. In his cookbook Fish Without a Doubt, Moonen says this in his recipe for almond-crusted barramundi: “It’s always sweet and buttery, with a delicate texture.”