Native to Australia and Southeast Asia, this whimsically-named swimmer has a slightly buttery flavor and offers a hearty 600 to 800 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per three-ounce serving, about three times more than fellow white-fleshed fish including cod and tilapia. With less than 140 calories per serving, reeling in Barramundi can keep you on good terms with the scale.
Most of the barramundi available in the U.S. is being farmed in Asia by Massachusetts-based Australis Aquaculture. Fortunately, they’re raised in a manner that greatly minimizes contact with wild species and the release of pollutants into surrounding waterways. The same cannot be said for a large portion of salmon farming. Barramundi’s largely vegetarian feed ensures very low levels of potentially harmful contaminants (such as mercury) building up in its flesh. At present, farmed salmon requires upwards of three to four pounds of wild-caught small fish for its feed to produce one pound of flesh, resulting in a net loss of protein from the sea.
You can find barramundi on the menu at an increasing number of restaurants. Also look for packages of plain and seasoned Australis frozen barramundi filets at major supermarkets for about $8 per 12-ounce bag. Virtually any recipe calling for other fish such as salmon and tilapia can be adapted to make use of barramundi instead.
Here’s a tasty idea: In a saucepan, bring one cup of pomegranate juice and 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and let the mixture simmer, uncovered, until it has thickened into a syrup consistency, about 15 minutes. Stir in two chopped scallions and ½ teaspoon orange zest. Cook unseasoned barramundi according to package directions and drizzle pomegranate glaze over top.