It’s not unusual for my friend Pati and me to check in with each other on any given day about what we are planning for dinner. Sometimes it provides just the inspiration we need to follow through. And then there are the times we ask in case there’s an opening to invite ourselves over … if yours sounds better than mine kind of thing. So when she called on Monday and I told her we were having Barramundi in Brown Butter Sauce with Almonds, she said, “Didn’t you just have that?”
As a matter of fact, we’ve had it three times in the last four weeks.
Admittedly, I will cook a recipe multiple times in a short period to get it ready to post here, but in this case, it became a favorite. And it’s as fast as it is delicious. So quick, roasting the vegetables takes longer, which means there’s time to sip a white Bordeaux while prepping the fish. (There’s no wine in the sauce, just in the glass.) The whole thing is done in less than 15 minutes since the butter can brown while searing the fillets.
Have you tried barramundi?
I wasn’t even aware of it until it showed up at Costco last year and after researching the supplier, Australis, I was comfortable trying it (we usually avoid farmed fish). We were impressed by the delicate, buttery texture of barramundi as well as how stable it remains from pan to plate. It is slightly sweet and exquisitely mild; ideal for those sensitive to “fishy” flavors. We have one of those in our family. She loves salmon because it doesn’t taste like … fish. When she stopped by for dinner a couple weeks ago, she was surprised by how much she enjoyed it.
Ready for a few fun facts?
Barramundi is also known as Asian Seabass, Barramundi Perch, Giant Perch, Palmer, Cockup, Bekti, Nairfish, Silver Barramundi and Australian Seabass. According to Australis, “Barramundi spawn on the full moon, and their iridescent skin can be seen shimmering through the water during their ‘love dance’.” That sounds straight out of a romance novel, doesn’t it?! Oh, but there’s more! Evidently, there is an Aboriginal folk tale of the Fish of “Forbidden Love” and those who believe in the legend call them passion fish. I can’t promise you’ll break out in a love dance, but when you taste brown butter on this fish, well, you might get close. 😉
Now back to the recipe …
As fabulous as I think this recipe is with barramundi, sole or trout are superb too (adjust cooking time for fillet size). While I’ve written the recipe with instructions to add the lemon to the butter sauce, I have also prepared it by waiting to give the lemon a good squeeze over the fish just before serving. This makes the lemon a little more pronounced, which I like. Either way, it balances the richness of the butter sauce and almonds. Got fresh sage? Toss a few leaves in the butter with the almonds, it’s easy to customize. As quick as this all comes together, a side dish of roasted vegetables is worth a few extra minutes (hence the wine sipping). They like the brown butter sauce too, so you’re sure to use every drop.
- ½ cup sweet white rice flour (gluten-free), or sprouted wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons Paul Prudhomme Blackened Redfish Magic, or other Cajun seasoning
- 1⅓ pounds barramundi fillets
- 2 medium lemons, halved and seeded
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
- 10 tablespoons butter, divided
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Mix the flour and Redfish Magic in a wide dish. Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper, and gently squeeze lemon over the fish (you're only looking for a teaspoon or so to lightly moisten each fillet). Dredge the fillets in the seasoned flour. Set the lemons aside.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat until hot and tiny bubbles dance on the surface. Add two of the fillets to the skillet and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side, until browned. Transfer the fish to a platter, add more olive oil as needed, and cook the remaining fillets.
- While the last two fillets of fish cook, add the remaining butter to a 10-inch stainless steel skillet over medium heat. As the butter cooks, swirl the pan or stir as the milk solids begin to brown and the butter becomes frothy. Once the butter is light brown in color, add the almonds and continue to cook until the butter is golden and the almonds brown. In total, this should all take, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully stir in the remaining juice of both lemons (it may bubble vigorously at first). Alternatively, wait to add the fresh spray of lemon juice (1/2 lemon per filet) just before serving for a brighter lemon flavor.
- Spoon the browned butter and almonds over the fish, garnish with parsley and serve immediately.