What Is Barramundi And What Does It Taste Like?

Seafood is a highly sought out food group amongst everyone in the world. In fact, the demand for seafood has risen over the years and on average 143.8 million metric tons are consumed each year globally, per Your Fish Guide. Including other uses of seafood, the overall total is 154 million metric tons.

There are some species of fish that are more popular than others. Actually, the most sold fish worldwide are freshwater fish known as the Ctenopharyngodon idella. Some of these fish varieties are known more commonly as silver carp, common carp, and bighead carp, per World Atlas

But the fishing world is in a bit of trouble, with the seafood industry fearing poor management of the oceans will result in the inability to meet demand. By 2048, this concern could be a reality, says The Better Fish. But luckily, there is one fish that will actually help with this problem due to its ability to flourish without antibiotics or hormones.

What exactly is barramundi?

Barramundi, or lates calcarifer for the scientific junkies out there, sounds almost like a beautiful tropical island. It is an Asian sea bass and "is a species of catadromous fish in the family Latidae of the order Perciformes," per The Better Fish. It is widely available and popular in South Asia, Papua New Guinea, and northern Australia.

Barramundi is a white fleshed fish, more like trout and not pink like salmon. Although it is eaten all over the Indo-Pacific region, its name actually comes from Australian Aboriginal language, per The Spruce Eats. The name barramundi translates to "large-scaled river fish." A name that is pretty spot on for this kind of fish. 

They do have scales (obviously) and are incredibly large. In fact, they can grow to be about 7 feet long and weigh 130 pounds (via Fish Choice). If you want to meal-prep, this is surely the fish to do it with!

What does barramundi taste like?

Barramundi, although you probably won't go looking for it right away, is a great food for those who are improving their fish cooking skills and taste buds. It is the kind of fish that has a subtle, gentle, and mild flavor that'll help introduce your palate to the world of fish. It has a rich, buttery, soft, and even sweet kind of flavor. 

The smell is also just as mild as its mix of flavors. While some people can't get past the smell of fish to even eat it, barramundi doesn't give off a strong odor such as salmon or tuna.

This is a white flesh fish, so it can be cooked alongside many sides that you'd usually cook white flesh fish with. And much like any other fish these days, it is flash frozen once caught, meaning it can be easily stored in your freezer and taken out when ready to cook.

How is it eco-friendly?

With underpopulated oceans come poor diets for fish. Global fish stocks are being significantly affected by things like carbon footprint, biodiversity, and how fish are caught, per The Spruce Eats. These play a big factor into the fears of seafood damage.

Seafood can be imported, which impacts the world's carbon footprint. Poor biodiversity happens when only certain fish are eaten and others are not. Americans, for example, tend to only eat shrimp, salmon, tuna, and cod. Due to the popularity of these fish, there is pressure on these specific fish stocks, so bad fishing methods are put in place to ensure they are caught.

The last big play is how fish are caught. Generally they are either farmed or wild-caught. Both options have pros and cons, though. Farms aren't always better due to the pumped hormones and antibiotics in the fish. Wild-caught can be done with improper fishing techniques that end up scraping across the ocean floor, picking up more than just the needed fish. 

This is where barramundi comes in. It can be farmed anywhere, doesn't eat a lot of other seafood in order to grow, doesn't make a lot of waste, and does not need as many antibiotics as other fish in order to be sold and stay alive, per GreenBiz. For example, salmon needs to be fed a lot of other wild fish, which costs more money and is less sustainable.

How do you cook barramundi?

This kind of fish has a very high fat content, which sounds bad, but it makes cooking a lot easier. You can grill, roast, boil, sautee, bake, steam, and fry barramundi. No matter your cooking level, one of those options is bound to work for you. This fish, however, is usually sold whole rather than in fillets like salmon or trout.

A simple way for beginners would be to pan fry barramundi. Simply start by patting the skin of the fish dry to ensure a crisp exterior. You want to then make shallow cuts into the skin, but not deep enough to hit the flesh. This part helps the seasonings creep into the cuts and the skin won't shrivel up. Season with simple salt and pepper and heat on a pan with oil for two to three minutes on each side.

It can also be sauteed with butter and herbs, grilled with Thai seasonings, and much more. Much like other fish, butter, lemon, and wine lend themselves well to barramundi. If you want to bake it, set your oven to 375 degrees. Place the fish whole or in fillets (your personal preference) and pour a mix of garlic, white wine, butter, lemon, capers, salt, and pepper over top, says The Better Fish. Cook for about 15 to 18 minutes until the fish is white, and you have yourself a yummy dinner.

Is barramundi good for you?

Fish is very well-known for being a great choice for protein and clean eating. While this fish does have high fat contents, it is not fat like steak or specific cuts of beef. One piece of barramundi has 5 grams of total fat and 2 grams of saturated fat (via The Better Fish).

It also has half the calories of salmon in the same amount. There are only about 185 calories in one fillet of barramundi, and it doesn't have any carbs or sugars. It is a great choice to get your daily protein, with 34 grams of lean protein in only 6 ounces of fish. It has a ton of things you'd want and none of the things you don't want. There is barely any mercury or other contaminants. 

It also is rich with omega-3 fatty acids, which all readers now know are a much-needed part of anyone's diet. One serving of barramundi contains 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids, per LiveStrong. The benefits don't stop there! Six ounces contain 50 milligrams of calcium and 4% of an adult's daily vitamin A intake.