Other Names: Akame (Japanese); barra; cock-up; giant perch; lates (Polish, Russian); Nile perch; Palmer perch; perca gigante (Spanish). Centropomidae.
General Description: Barramundi (Lates calcarifer), with moist flesh and delicate flavor, are native to Australia’s orthern tropical wilderness and are now being raised by aquaculture. Barramundi have gained a reputation as one of Australia’s finest eating fish. One company, Australis, is now raising barramundi for the American market in a Massachusetts fish farm. Australian-born fingerlings are flown in live and then grown to portion-sized fish, which are harvested to order. Whole fresh barramundi are farmed in an environmentally responsible way.
Locale and Season: Farm-raised barramundi are available year-round. Wild fish are found year-round in Northern Australia.
Characteristics: An average barramundi weighs 12 pounds, but they can weigh up to 130 pounds. Prized for its sweet, buttery taste and succulent, delicate texture, barramundi is comparable to wild sea bass but moister and more delicate. The white flesh has a fairly high oil content, cooking up white with good-sized flake. Eat with the skin on or off; the skin crisps up beautifully. Fish that have spent time in turbid, muddy water can have muddy-tasting flesh.
How to Choose: Farm-raised barramundi are sold in three sizes: small, 1 to 1 1/4 pounds; medium, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds; and large, 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 pounds.
Storage: Store whole barramundi up to 2 days refrigerated.
Cut 3 slashes at the thicker head end in each side of whole barramundi before grilling or baking whole.
Grill, bake, roast, or steam whole; grill, sauté, pan-fry, or broil fillets.
Suggested Recipe: Barramundi in Banana Leaf (serves 4): Chop 1 red chile, 2 shallots, and the cleaned roots of 1 bunch cilantro. Combine with 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, the juice of 2 limes, and a large pinch of Australian lemon myrtle (or substitute grated lemon zest), mixing until sugar dissolves. Arrange 2 whole scored barramundi on banana leaves, cover with some of the sauce, wrap, and skewer shut. Grill packets 10 minutes on each side. Serve with remaining sauce.
Flavor Affinities: Arugula, Asian fish sauce, bok choy, brown sugar, cilantro, garlic, green chiles, lemon myrtle, lemon verbena, lime, mizuna, scallion, shallot, soy sauce, tatsoi.
from Quirk Books: www.quirkbooks.com