Barramundi – also known as Asian sea bass – is a salt and freshwater fish that is native to Australia and the Indo-Pacific.
Barramundi is a popular eating fish as it has a clean, fresh taste and it can be cooked and eaten in a number of different ways.
So what, does barramundi taste like? It’s not a particularly “fishy” fish from a taste POV – it has relatively little odor and a mild flavour.
Modern aquaculture techniques allow barramundi to be farmed sustainably and commercially and this great tasting fish is available in the US too.
Is barramundi a good fish to eat?
Yes, for sure! It is a highly regarded eating fish in Australia and South East Asia.
As barramundi is not yet a common fish in the US, and it has a strange name, it’s not uncommon for shoppers encountering it to ask: ‘What does barramundi taste like?’
Barramundi is great to eat grilled, fried, steamed or cooked in curries and suits a range of sauces and spices from both Western and Asian cuisine.
Smaller barramundi can be prepared as whole barramundi and larger fish separated into tasty barramundi fillets.
Barramundi is packed with omega 3 fatty acids and is a very healthy food as it is a lean source of protein and low in saturated fat. We’ve listed a bunch of great ways to cook barramundi and enjoy its mild flavor at the end of this article.
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All about barramundi
The name means large-scaled river fish in Australian Aboriginal language.
Barramundi sits towards the top of the food chain in the areas it exists.
It is a remarkable fish that can survive in fully freshwater environments as well as fully saltwater environments and anything in between.
Most commonly barramundi exist in self sustaining populations in estuaries and are catadromous fish in that they head to the ocean to spawn. After one spawning season, most males become females.
Barramundi is a distant relatively of the Nile Perch, a large African fish species that looks very similar and has the same oblique mouth.
Barramundi are found naturally in tropical waters from northern Australia through Papua New Guinea and Southeast and South Asia right up to the eastern edge of the Persian Gulf to China, Taiwan and southern Japan. They are not found outside the Indo Pacific region.
Barramundi are fast growing and relatively large fish with the average specimen being between two and four feet with their maximum length of six feet.
Wild Fish Habits
Barramundi are predatory fish that hunt other fish and have a varied diet including prawns, insects, reptiles and pretty much anything they can catch.
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Barramundi, in Australia in particular, are a revered target for recreational anglers who pursue them using lures and fly gear, as well as bait in some situations. Barramundi are hard fighting fish that leap clear of the water spectacularly when caught.
Anglers target barramundi by casting lures into structure including creek mouths, snags, weed beds and other places predators love to hide.
In marine waters you can see barramundi actively hunting chasing schools of bait. Barramundi are stocked in impoundments in Australia and parts of Southeast Asia where are a highly sought after target.
Barramundi are commercially netted in some regions, although their popularity as an angling species means in some areas netting is on the wane to preserve populations for angling and make barramundi sustainable.
Barramundi can be farmed commercially and is a hardy species that can be farmed in pondages without the need for hormones and supplements. This means farmed barramundi is one of the most sustainable and tasty choices for diners thanks to the health properties and mild flavor of this white fish.
The adaptability of barramundi as a fish means that it can grown in pens, cages, and freshwater tanks pretty much anywhere as long as the water temperature can be maintained at a high enough leve,. Some farmed barramundi are grown in Iowa, more than 1,000 miles from any ocean.
Ocean farmed barramundi might be a possibility in the future.
Cooking and eating barramundi
There are many ways to cook and prepare farmed barramundi (wild caught barramundi is only available in areas where the fish is native) as it is such a versatile fish and the barramundi taste is really appreciated by many cooks and diners.
When cooked, the flesh retains its firm flesh texture but can separate into moist flakes.
While fresh barramundi is most sought after, frozen barramundi fillets are a popular and economical way for home cooks to enjoy this white meat fish.
Cooking barramundi is relatively easy and you can pan fry barramundi in olive oil, grill it or bake it or apply a range of other cooking techniques. Steamed barramundi can be enjoyed with soy sauce and this has many other health benefits compared to pan frying barramundi or deep frying.
Barramundi is far leaner than oily seafood species such as salmon or mackerel and is a great lean protein.
We have listed some good ways to prepare barramundi and make this mild fish taste great below with links to the full recipes and cooking methods. Learn how to cook barramundi with these ideas:
- Pan Seared Barramundi with Artichokes, Leeks and Lemon Butter
- Miso Brown Sugar Barramundi
- Crispy skinned barramundi with garlic and herb oil
- Barramundi fillets with lemon garlic pasta
Cooking Barramundi in Asia
In Thailand, barramundi (known as pla kapong) is often served as a steamed fish accompanied with garlic and lime. It is also done deep fried and served with lime and lemongrass and chili.
In India, barramundi is a popular fish in the Goan region (where it is called chonak) and Bengal (where it is known as bhetki). In India, barrumundi fillets are is fried as well as cooked in aromatic and spicy fish curries and breaded with semolina and pan fried.
Where can I buy barramundi?
Farmed barramundi is sold in a range of specialist and general retail outlets in the US as well as whole foods market and other seafood markets.
Farmed barramundi producer Australis Aquaculture has a retailer search tool that you can use to find somewhere that sells this tasty fish near you: https://www.thebetterfish.com/store-locator/
You can also buy barramundi from online seafood retailer Fulton Fish Market: https://fultonfishmarket.com/