Help me do barra better
October 11, 2012 1:53 AM   Subscribe

Cooking barramundi- your retrospective help please?

I pan fried some 'barramundi' tonight and it was pretty bad. I use quotations marks because it was from Safeway (I'm in Melbourne, Australia) and apparently barramundi is sometimes actually Nile perch. I know that wild barramundi is better and that it is not normally what is sold in supermarkets, and that non-supermarket fish is preferable. All this aside:
- the fish tasted kind of plastic-y/slippery in texture. Did I overcook it or is this just how barramundi of this kind is?
- should I try again and cook differently or not bother?
I am stuck in a salmon/flake/flathead rut. I would like to move on...but I have a low threshold for fish cooking on a weeknight. I don't want anything that I have to shop around for or do an elaborate sauce for.

Advice appreciated!
posted by jojobobo to Food & Drink (6 answers total)
Had you eaten barramundi before? It's one of those love-it-or-hate-it foods, no matter how it's cooked.
My husband loves it. I think it's the worst tasting fish in the world.
posted by third word on a random page at 2:17 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

My partner, who is the cook in the house, often makes barramundi (and both he and I really like it - in fact we are having barramundi tacos tonight!). Here is what he suggests:

He thinks you probably overcooked it. You should be cooking no more than a few minutes a side. He advises that you should cook by setting the burner really hot, fry it there for just a few seconds, then turn it down and cook for 2-3 minutes - then repeat on the other side. It should be done then. Basically, cook until it's only just flakeable with a fork, no more.

Spice-wise, keep it simple: just salt, pepper, and lemon is sufficient. You can get creative but it's not necessary to make it taste good.

After all that, he says, if it still tastes bad then it's clearly Nile perch. :)
posted by forza at 3:04 AM on October 11, 2012

Dry the fish, salt, pepper and olive oil (and I like some capers too.) broil on high 5 mins a side and eat. Same if you get a grill pan or use the bbq.

As an aside you might try john dory to break your fish rut. Local to you, tasty and a thousand ways to cook it.
posted by chasles at 4:59 AM on October 11, 2012

Thanks- this is basically how I cooked it but for less time. I am really specifically wanting to know if the plastic-y taste is specific to overcooking or to barramundi, if anyone can help with that.
posted by jojobobo at 1:08 PM on October 11, 2012

I asked my partner this as well and he doesn't know. It might be that you just don't like barramundi, or that you did have Nile perch (though we always buy our barramundi at a Safeway equivalent - Coles - and never accidentally end up with something else, so ymmv). The only time we've gotten the plastic-y taste was for a different fish. But then again he hasn't really overcooked the barramundi that much.
posted by forza at 5:17 PM on October 11, 2012

Was it very flakey and prone to falling apart easily (delicate flesh)? If so, it probably was Barramundi. My favourite fish - which I usually gently pan fry in a style as mentioned above. Nile perch is normally a much firmer white flesh which I guess could get rubbery (plasticky?!) overlooking is probably the worst thing you could do to fish and both these types normally only need a minute or two per side. Barra is normally quite expensive and Nile perch is dirt cheap, this may help in distinguishing what you got.
posted by Jubey at 3:02 AM on October 12, 2012

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