Ever since the pandemic started I have been focused nearly exclusively on local, wild-caught seafood. Not that much different than I usually preach, and honestly, how can I go wrong? New Englanders have an embarrassment of riches in the world of seafood. Lobster, fried clams, fried haddock sandwiches: for visitors these are the foods of summer, but we locals get to eat them all year long.
During this mess, many local fish dealers including Fisherman’s Wharf Gloucester, have done an amazing job supplying the public with the freshest, and sustainably-caught fish money can by…at prices only a wharf could offer. This is not the typical experience for seafood consumers, however there are widely available options for quality, sustainable seafood beyond the dock. This time around, I revisited a fish that I’m seeing more and more in the frozen seafood section: Australis Barramundi.
My friend Julie Qiu from Australis got in touch with me recently for a research project and in short order, sent me a box of center-cut barramundi as a thank you. I already endorse Australis Barramundi (also known as Asian sea bass) for being a responsibly-raised, healthy, and delicious alternative to farmed salmon. But this particular product is something I have not seen at any supermarket, and got me excited as soon as I opened the box.
Australis Barramundi 6-oz Center Cut Seabass
This package consists of eight portions of six-ounce center-cuts of Australis Barramundi. The Company offers this, along with two containers of gourmet herbed butter, exclusively on QVC. These boneless, skinless portions are top-quality and cut thick. My package arrived fully frozen, each individual portion was frosty and rock hard. There was even some dry ice remaining to play with in the sink.
Farm-raised seafood is taking a greater and greater role in the marketplace. Which means consumers have to be vigilant in seeking out aquaculture products that are produced with the highest of standards. For Australis Barramundi, they raise these naturally hardy fish in sea net-pens off the Vietnam coast, free from pollution, antibiotics and artificial dyes. The Company’s innovative approach to raising what they call “the better fish” has earned them a 4-Star Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification.
Although you can cook most fish, including barramundi, straight from the freezer, I prefer an overnight thaw in the fridge. This also allows me to get a better look at the fillets before cooking.
These center cuts of barramundi were thick and firm after thawing. A quick rinse under running water, a pat to dry them and they were ready to go. Australis Barramundi is also a very clean fish, with almost no fish smell at all after handling the raw fillets. I have been fortunate to try Australis Barramundi on several occasions, and I think their product keeps getting better as they grow. However these center cuts are the highest quality barramundi I’ve seen. Let’s hope I can do them justice in the kitchen…
I’m currently back on a low-FODMAP diet so I will not be using the gourmet butters that came with my fish. As decadently delicious as they probably are, I’m going with a sauce that packs a punch, using ingredients I can tolerate like ginger, lemon, lime, and mandarin orange. Maybe I’m completely wrong, or maybe it’s just the semi-exotic sound of “barramundi” that makes me think of fresh ginger for this dish.
Low-FODMAP Recipe: Pan Seared Australis Barramundi with Ginger Citrus Sauce
- 1-3 6oz. portions Australis Barramundi
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 TBSP Butter
- 2 Tangelos, juiced and zested
- 1 Lime, juiced and zested
- 1.5 Lemons, juiced and zested
- 1 TBSP Brown Sugar
- Ginger Root, peeled and cut into strips
- Fresh Herbs, chopped (parsley, chives)
- 1 Star Anise (optional)
- Salt & Pepper
Start with the sauce: Zest the juice the lemon, lime and tangelos. You can also add some chopped pieces of fruit.
Note: If you life in New England or another place far from native tropical fruit, you may need to adjust how much fruit to use. In the end you want at least a cup of citrus juice.
Peel and cut the ginger into thin matchsticks and chop your choice of fresh herbs. Put everything into a small saucepan, along with the brown sugar, some salt and fresh ground pepper. A star anise can add another flavor dimension but don’t keep it in too long. Bring to a simmer and let it reduce down by half. The sauce should be very tart and sweet, which can be smoothed out by adding a tablespoon of butter at the very end. Keep the sauce warm while cooking the fish.
Then the fish: Heat up a saute pan with some olive oil and butter. Pat dry your barramundi, give it a light season and when your pan is nice and hot, sear the fish between 3-5 minutes per side, depending upon thickness. Make sure the fish makes good contact with the pan for a nice sear. Top generously with the citrus sauce and serve immediately.
Verdict: How Was The Center Cut Australis Barramundi?
This came out even better than I hoped. The barramundi was perfect after 4 minutes per side. The sauce? Let me tell you about that sauce…if you put it on my arm, I’d eat my arm. Whatever was not absorbed by the fish, was soaked up by the multi-color baby potatoes I served for a side. My wife is on the fence with barramundi, it really comes down to how I cook it.
With or without skin, Australis Barramundi is made for pan searing, grilling too, but the two of us really love how it comes out on the stove top. It’s hard to overcook and has a nice sweet flavor all its own. If you only like white fish like cod, but are looking to add more healthy fish oils to your diet, you really should give barramundi a try. Thank you Australis and QVC for this top-notch dinner.
If you would like to know more about Australis Barramundi and what makes it “the better fish” please check out their website.