Life has been pretty hectic lately. You may or may not have noticed that I didn’t post a video as regularly scheduled last Friday. I had the best of intentions, but then I forgot to pack my voiceover mic on a work trip to Florida and all bets were off. I beat myself up during the flight, but then remembered that no one really cares and life will resume for all as usual. So here we are, resuming life. And it’s already March! Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.
March is and has always been a weird month. Upon waking on March first, you immediately think, “YES! Spring!” But then March is like, “Psych! Here’s another snow storm and several weeks of cold, gray and rainy weather.” It’s easy to forget that March is still half winter even though March is usually not shy about letting us know. But winter means citrus is still in peak season, so for that, March gets a pass.
I have a bit of an obsession with meyer lemons. I love them for their tart, citrusy flavor and complex, fruity and floral notes. Like I always say, meyer lemons can do anything regular lemons can do, but with a little more flair.
Today I’m adding that flair to barramundi, a fish you need to know about if you don’t already. Lately I’ve been working with Australis Aquaculture, a company that produces this sustainable sea bass here in the states. While developing recipes over the past few months, I’ve fallen madly in love with this fish for multiple reasons. Let us count the ways:
First and foremost, it’s delicious. Barramundi is a firm white fish with a mild, buttery flavor and meaty, but flaky texture. I find it tastes like a cross between mahi mahi and grouper. It works well with a myriad of flavors and cooking techniques, but can also stand on it’s own with just a little salt, pepper and maybe a squeeze of lemon.
Second, barramundi is good for you. Really good for you. It’s packed with calcium and omega-3 fatty acids, contains zero traceable levels of mercury, PCBs, and other contaminants, and is raised without any antibiotics, hormones, and colorants. In fact, Australis barramundi contains the highest levels of omega-3’s of any white fish, comparable to that of wild Coho salmon, but with only half the calories.
Third, barramundi is easy on the wallet. One of the reasons people don’t eat a lot of fish is because it’s pricey. Favorites like wild salmon and halibut can cost as much as $18-$20 a pound at the market, but barramundi comes in at nearly half of that. A pound will usually run anywhere from $8-$11. Find it frozen at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, BJ’s, Costco and Central Market, to name a few. If your grocery store doesn’t currently carry barramundi, ask!
And finally, something very important to me, is that barramundi is sustainable. Australis barramundi is considered a best-in-class sustainable seafood for its low impact on the environment and carbon footprint. They use Smart Aquaculture™ to ensure the fish are responsibly raised in the best conditions possible, making it the world’s first “Best Choice” rated marine-raised fish by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch™.
If this all doesn’t convince you that you need to get some barramundi in your life, STAT, maybe this recipe will. Not only does it include some of my all time favorite flavors (helloooo meyer lemon and fresh herbs!), it’s crazy easy to make because you don’t even have to defrost the fish first. That’s right. You heard me! We’re cooking fish straight from the freezer.
This is where being a professionally trained chef and a food blogger collide. All of my culinary training has taught me that you must defrost proteins before cooking them, or else bad things will happen. But it turns out, you can pull fish straight from the freezer and bake it with incredible results. I didn’t believe it was possible until I tried it for myself, but once I saw how nicely browned it got, while still being perfectly cooked, tender and juicy in the middle, I was sold.
You owe it to yourself to give this fish AND this technique a try. Weeknight dinners just got a little bit easier…
AND tastier. AND healthier. AND better for the environment. What are you waiting for?
One Year Ago: Chai Spiced Granola
- 4 6-ounce barramundi fillets, frozen*
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 2 meyer lemons, one thinly sliced, one zested and juiced (about 3 tablespoons)
- 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus 1 teaspoon, minced
- 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 1 teaspoon, minced
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove barramundi fillets from their packaging and run under cold tap water for a few seconds to remove the thin protective coating of ice. Use paper towels to pat each fillet very dry.
- Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on a parchment lined baking sheet and place the fillets on top. Season both sides with salt and pepper and drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Layer slices of lemon over each fillet, then scatter the rosemary and thyme sprigs on top. Drizzle with more olive oil, then bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the flesh has turned opaque.
- While the fish is baking, make the vinaigrette. In a bowl, whisk together the meyer lemon zest, juice, garlic, minced rosemary, minced thyme, minced parsley and 3 tablespoons olive oil until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then set aside.
- When the fish is done, remove the lemon slices and herbs, then use a spatula to carefully transfer each fillet to a plate. Top with a spoonful of meyer lemon vinaigrette. Serve immediately with extra vinaigrette and meyer lemon wedges on the side.
- *This recipe can easily be made with fresh fish as well. Just be sure to cut down the baking time to about 7-10 minutes, depending on thickness.