I’m posting a day early this week in honor of #BarraMonday! You’ve heard of meatless Monday, right? Well there’s a new movement in town, and it’s intended to get more of this tasty, omega-3 rich fish into your diet.
Back in March, I let you guys in on my partnership with Australis, an incredible company out of Massachusetts that sustainably raises this impressive fish. For months, I’ve been experimenting with their barramundi and developing different recipes, which can all be found on their website, TheBetterFish.com. All of the recipes are super yummy… I mean, after all, I wouldn’t submit them if they weren’t. But to be honest, this recipe for smoked barramundi might just be my favorite one yet.
Chaser and I were lucky enough to receive a big propane smoker back in December, courtesy of none other than Santa Claus himself. We haven’t had a chance to play around with it too much, because, you know, winter. But with warmer weather on the horizon, that will all be changing soon. I’m still getting the hang of it, but even in my brief experience, I’ve found smoking to be a pretty forgiving process. Even with fish.
I was a little skeptical about how barramundi would turn out in the smoker, but it seriously exceeded all of my expectations. Because barramundi has a mid-oil content, it’s perfectly suited for smoking. It stayed super moist, held it’s texture nicely and had a lightly smoked, buttery flavor that paired perfectly with the crisp spring veggies.
I started out by brining the fish first in a solution of salt, brown sugar and spices. Brining the fish prior to smoking not only imparts it with flavor and seasoning, but also ensures it stays moist during cooking. After brining for a few hours, the fish needs to dry out and form what’s called a “pellicle” on the outside. This is a thin skin or membrane that helps the fish to absorb and retain more smoke while it cooks. This process can take a few hours, and you know it’s ready when the flesh feels tacky.
I smoked the barramundi at about 200 degrees until it reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees, which took about 2 1/2 hours. This is considered “hot smoking,” a technique that cooks the meat as it smokes, and produces a fully cooked product with the familiar texture of cooked fish. Cold smoking, which requires temperatures to stay below 85 degrees, doesn’t actually cook the food and produces a more raw-like texture, which is what you typically find with smoked salmon. I used applewood, but peach, cherry or other “lighter” wood chips would be nice as well. I would avoid mesquite, hickory and other strongly flavored woods, as to not overpower the delicate flavor of the fish.
I really can’t speak highly enough about Australis and their barramundi. Not only is this fish completely delicious and versatile, but it’s also sustainable. The folks at Australis are fully committed to raising their fish responsibly with a low impact on the environment and carbon footprint. Australis barramundi is actually the world’s first “Best Choice” rated marine-raised fish by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch™. That’s a big deal!
Australis barramundi is 100% traceable and contains zero levels of mercury, PCBs and other contaminants. The fish is raised without antibiotics, hormones or colorants, and contains the highest levels of Omega 3’s of any white fish. This lean protein has all the same health benefits of salmon, but with only half the calories, and no fishy taste. This is some of the best nutrient dense food you can be putting into your body. And, hey – bonus! – it tastes amazing, too.
If you still haven’t tried barramundi, what are you waiting for? They call it “the better fish” for a reason. Find it at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, BJ’s, Costco, Giant, Safeway, Central Market, HEB and numerous other grocers. Join us in the #BarraMonday movement by eating Australis barramundi on a Monday. It’s quick to defrost and even quicker to cook, making it the perfect food to prepare on a weeknight. Share your creations on social media using the hashtag #BarraMonday and tag us @TheBetterFish. I can’t wait to see what you make!
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- 1 1/2 lbs barramundi fillets, skin on or off
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 3 dried bay leaves, crushed
- 2 quarts water
- apple, cherry or peach wood chips for smoking
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 medium carrot, scrubbed clean
- 6 large asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed
- 1 small beet, peeled
- 2 medium radishes
- 1 cup sugar snap peas, halved lengthwise
- 2 cups arugula
- 1 bunch chives, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley leaves, stems removed
- Place the barramundi fillets in a large, deep casserole dish or container. Whisk together the brown sugar, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, bay leaves and water until the sugar and salt have fully dissolved. Pour the mixture over the fish, cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.
- Remove the fillets from the brine and rinse under cold water, then pat very dry. Place the fillets on a rack and refrigerate, uncovered, for about 3-4 hours until the flesh feels tacky.
- Prepare a smoker with the wood chips and lightly oil the racks. Place the fillets on the racks and smoke at about 200 degrees until the flesh reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees (about two hours, give or take). Remove from the smoker and cool to room temperature.
- In a large salad bowl, whisk together the shallot, lemon juice and olive oil with salt and pepper. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the carrot and asparagus spears into long, thin strips. Use a mandolin slicer to shave the beet and radishes into paper thin rounds. Add the shaved vegetables to the bowl along with the sugar snap peas, arugula, chives and parsley. Toss everything to coat in the dressing, then arrange on a platter.
- Pull pieces of the smoked fish away from the skin and arrange on top of the salad. Serve immediately.
- Use the freshest, most colorful spring vegetables that you can find. Look for different colored carrots, watermelon radishes, golden and chioggia beets.