Barra, giant perch, giant sea perch, silver barramundi.
Latidae (lates perches).
Description, Location, Habitat and Harvesting Information
Available both wild-caught and farmed, it is caught using gillnets in coastal and fresh waters in Australia’s tropical north, from the Ashburton River in WA to the Noosa River in Queensland. It lives in rivers, creeks, estuaries and coastal shallows, however all move into estuaries and coastal shallows to breed. NT and Qld are important barramundi farming areas, though there are also farms in WA and SA. Farms located further south than barramundi naturally occur use warm saline bore water to simulate the fish’s natural habitat and most farms use salt, rather than fresh, water. Barramundi is an Aboriginal word meaning 'river fish with large scales'.
Wild-caught barramundi is available from February to October, peaking from February to April. Farmed barramundi is available year round.
Size and Weight
Barramundi mature as males after about 3 years, measuring up to 60cm in length, then change into females after about 5 years. They can reach up to 1.5m and 50kg, although most wild-caught fish weigh less than 6kg. Some farmed fish are sold at 400-600g (plate-sized), though many farms produce larger fish (around 3kg).
Medium-high price. Farmed plate-sized fish are less expensive than the larger wild-caught fish.
Sand Bass (Psammoperca waigiensis).
Wild-caught barramundi is usually sold in fillets or cutlets. In fillets and cutlets, look for lustrous, firm, moist white-pinkish flesh without any brown markings or oozing water and with a pleasant fresh smell. Farmed baby Barramundi is mostly sold whole, look for firm flesh, which springs back when touched and a pleasant fresh smell.
Make sure whole fish is scaled, gutted and cleaned thoroughly. Wrap whole fish, fillets and cutlets in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for 2-3 days or freeze whole fish for up to 6 months, and fillets or cutlets for up to 3 months, below -18ºC.
Yield is 45-50%. Barramundi flesh has medium-large flakes, mild flavour, low-medium oiliness depending on the season, moist flesh and soft-medium texture (smaller fish having softer flesh and smaller flakes). Larger fish have only a few large bones, which can easily be removed. Cut large fillets into serving size portions. The centre bone of cutlets can be removed and a filling placed in the cavity. Baby barramundi is best served whole (scaled, gutted and cleaned) as it is an ideal plate-sized fish. The fine skin can be left on during cooking. It is good barbecued or baked wrapped in paperbark or banana leaves to protect the delicate flesh.
Steam, deep-fry, pan-fry, bake, grill, barbecue.
Goes Well With
Asian greens, chilli, fresh herbs, lemon, lime, soy sauce, white wine.
Blue-eye trevalla, lings, gemfish, mulloway, threadfin.
Nile perch is the marketing name of a closely related fish imported from Africa. In fillet form, the two species are virtually indistinguishable, but Nile perch cannot legally be sold as barramundi. Product (mainly fillets) is also imported from India, South East Asia and Papua New Guinea.