I had a chance to visit Australia a few months ago, and two of the things we ate almost everyday were thick barramundi filets followed by a glass of sauvignon blanc. Australia has become a huge foodie destination, but as we discovered recently a U.S. company is now farm-raising barramundi in Asia, freezing it, then shipping it back here to a number a grocery stores. I asked a local Australian chef to show me a few things about preparing his country's favorite fish.
The fish counter can be a good source for dinner. Chefs say wild-caught is preferable, but if you have to go farm-raised, barramundi is a good way to go.
"Buttery, melt in your mouth, it's just so good. You will see in a few minutes when we start grilling it up," said Australian-born chef Jon-Antony.
As an Australian, Jon-Antony promotes his country's native fish as much as possible. He also likes the farm-raised barramundi from an East Coast company called Australis, found in the frozen section.
"You can get it whole, at Dirk's Seafood and the frozen filets that we use they're at Jewel, Dominick's, Whole foods," Jon-Antony said.
But what do you do when you get it home? In his backyard, he shows me a few tasty preparations. First, combine a few spices.
"In here we've got some cajun seasoning, some cayenne pepper, some chili flakes." said Jon-Antony.
Then just sprinkle them on the filet, wrap in foil, and tent it, to allow steam to form inside, and place the whole package right on the grill. After about five to seven minutes, he removes the filet, places it on a bun with some crunchy coleslaw, and has a delicious sandwich.
Another option is to rub in those macadamias, along with garlic and parsley, then shave over a little lime zest. We wrap the fillets up in thin cedar planks that have been soaked in water. They'll protect the fish, but also flavor them as they cook on the grill. Served over a bed of peppery arugula and drizzled with olive oil, they make an easy entree.
"Ya know I was doing it in the foil to keep the nice steam in, but the cedar papers we used, you can even do it in pans on the grill. There are just so many nice little preparations. And it's tasty. Perfect for grilling out in the backyard, a little barbeque, some beer," said Jon-Antony.
Australis Barramundi can be found at supermarkets like Jewel-Osco, Safeway and Dominicks, plus restaurants like Carnivale, Japonais, Lockwood and others. If your purveyor doesn't have it, ask for it by name or have them contact Australis at www.TheBetterFish.com
Also mentioned sources for possible wild barramundi:
1515 Sheridan Rd., Wilmette
609 W. North Ave.
1413 Waukegan Rd., Glenview
Dirk's Fish & Gourmet Shop
2070 N. Clybourn Ave.
The Fishguy Market
4423 N. Elston Ave.