Food and Drink

   

In Season: Barramundi

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My mother, who lives in Darwin, would spend weekends on the Adelaide River during the barramundi season. Back then commercial fishing was banned but there was no bag limit for amateur fishers, and occasionally she would send down an esky full of fresh fillets.

Nowadays ‘wild barramundi’ can be readily found on menus, and while not denigrating these, there is a distinction between ‘wild-caught’ barramundi and the farmed ‘wild barramundi’.

Barramundi are estuary fish and those raised in the wild feed in mangroves and river estuaries, swimming upstream during the breeding cycle. They have a cleaner, more vibrant taste than the slight earthiness of those raised in dams.

While farming enables the species to be available all year round, the commercial fishing season of river-caught fish is strictly controlled. They are in peak condition from February to April, so now is the time to seek them out.

I am a great believer in freshly caught seafood needing little interference from cooks other than a hot pan and a squeeze of lemon, but try this for larger grained, white fleshed, non-oily fish such as Blue Eye, Hapuka, and Barra.

Cook the fish on the flat grill of the BBQ, sealing in the juices and giving a slightly caramelised finish. Then top with a salsa of toasted slivered almonds, slivered Kalamata olives, a little finely sliced white part of spring onion, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and a scatter of dried chilli to season.