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Buying Guide and Glossary

Barramundi

Other Names: The Barramundi (Lates calcarifer), also known as Asian Seabass, is a species of catadromous fish in family Lamiae of order Perciformes. Barramundi is a loanword from an Australian Aboriginal language of the Rockhampton area in Queensland meaning "large-scaled river fish". 

Range & Habitat: Wild Barramundi are native to the waters of northern Australia and Southeast Asia. They are demersal, inhabiting coastal waters, estuaries, lagoons and rivers; they are found in clear to turbid water, usually within a temperature range of 26−30 °C. Barramundi are mainly a summertime fish, but can be caught all year round, and may be found frolicking in mud. Barramundi are a favorite food of the region's the Saltwater Crocodile, which have been known to take them from unwary fishermen.

Identification & Biology: This species has an elongate body form with a large, slightly oblique mouth and an upper jaw extending behind the eye. Barramundi are a salt and freshwater sport fish.. They have large silver scales, which may become darker or lighter, depending on their environment. Their bodies can reach up to 5.91 feet long, though evidence of them being caught at this size is scarce.

Market Description: The fish is of large commercial importance; and is raised in aquaculture in Australia, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Israel, the Philippines, Thailand, the United States and Poland. The Australian barramundi industry is relatively established with an annual production of more than 4000 tons. In the broader Southeast Asian region production is estimated to exceed 30,000 tons. By contrast, the US industry produces about 800 tons a year from a single facility.

Barramundi is well-suited to aquaculture since it is hardy and fast growing. They only need about 0.8 pounds of wild fish feed to grow to one pound of fish, and their diet is supplemented with soy, wheat and canola. The way in which they are farmed in the U.S., called a recirculation system, eliminates the risks of fish escapes, disease transfer and pollution. In some areas of the Indo-Pacific, barramundi is commonly farmed in open net pens or cages that pose a variety of problems including risks of disease, pollution and escaped fish. For this reason, imported barramundi farmed in open net pens or cages should be avoided.

Buying Tips: Most commonly sold as filets, fresh or frozen.

Barramundi has flesh which is a pearly-pink when raw and flaky white when cooked. It has a firm white flesh which is delicious grilled or sautéed and a sweet, buttery flavor profile. It’s also high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Barramundi has been popularized for human consumption because it has been viewed as a sustainable fish, with strong stocks, a healthy habitat, and careful stewardship… all contributing to the longevity of barramundi as a species. The fish is widespread and shows no signs of being at risk.

Recommended Preparation: floured and lightly sautéed, steamed

Availability: Year Round