I’ve been reading the book Four Fish (subtitled “The Future of the Last Wild Food”) by Paul Greenberg, which gives a history of salmon, sea bass, cod and tuna and of course details the environmental aspect of eating, fishing and farming all of them. As someone who loves fish and the ocean, I actually find it riveting. It really makes me wish I stayed an extra quarter to get that minor in Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. Perhaps that teeny credential would have come in handy now as I contemplate switching careers in the veeery long term future. I just finished reading the section on sea bass, and the author describes the delicate, white, tender flaky meat of sea bass to explain why it’s so popular. Did you know sea bass has many names, which if you live in New York City, you most likely have seen: branzino, loup de mer, bar, spigola. My mouth immediately began to water, and I continued reading as he details the highly complicated human engineering that goes on in the farming of sea bass, as well as the accompanying pollution and disease. He achieved his intent of making me feel guilty for wanting sea bass. But, then in the last few pages of the chapter, he mentioned a new kind of sea bass whose natural biology is conducive to being farmed, and therefore it’s sustainable and not detrimental to the environment — that sea bass is called Barramundi! Naturally, this would be my next meal.
I headed over to the Lobster Place, where I knew for sure they must have this Barramundi. Sure enough, they even had Barramundi from the same “farm” in Turner Falls, MA where the author had done his research. I had intended to buy a filet or two, but the whole fish was 1/2 the price (per pound), so I got that instead. The entire fish wouldn’t fit in the pan, so I tried and then Noah succeeded in chopping off the fish heads (sorry to you sensitive readers out there, but this is just how your food gets to the plate).
I proceeded then to adapt this recipe for Barramundi. The recipe has you make a sweet potato puree and brussel sprout chips (from each leaf), but I opted for the easier task of simply chopping and roasting them together. I also made the vinaigrette called for in the recipe, but I think the fish tastes great simply just pan fried with salt and pepper. So, I saved the vinaigrette for a future salad. Also, during this adventure, I learned how to beautifully pan fry a whole fish – so easy and so delicious! The skin is so yummy and crisp.
Pan Fried Barramundi
2 barramundi fish, cleaned (or 4 5-6 oz filets)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 lbs brussel sprouts
salt + pepper
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Wash sweet potatoes. Cut brussel sprouts in halves. Quarter and slice sweet potato into 1/2 inch pieces. Combine vegetables in baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vingegar, salt, pepper, dried rosemary and thyme. Mix to combine. Arrange brussel sprouts with cut side down. Bake in oven for 30-35 mins.