I’ve been working on coming up with some new recipes for fish. And, I thought it would be fun to try a glazed fish. So, my husband and I started tossing around ideas for the glaze. It was my husband who thought to try making our regular salad dressing (sweet and soy dressing) into the glaze. And, I must say, it was a fabulous idea that he had! Soy Glazed Barramundi with Pineapple Salsa Served Over Black Rice
I think this glaze would work on just about any fish from a mild white fish like cod to a more full flavored fish like salmon. I’ve been seeing barramundi at the store, and hearing more and more about it. So, I thought I’d see what it was like. If you aren’t familiar with barramundi (like I was), it’s a mild buttery tasting white fish from Australia. It’s high in Omega 3s and lean protein. It had a bit more flavor than cod or halibut, but not an overpowering flavor at all. I like that the barramundi was a sweet tender mild fish. And, the soy glaze complemented it perfectly. I didn’t feel like the fish would be easily overcooked, so I think it could withstand some excess heat and not get burned or dry out too much. Though, it wasn’t what I’d call a fatty fish at all.
The barramundi, in its raw state, looks a lot like other white fish. There was some change in the color through the fillet, with the fish going from a darker pink to a lighter white, to a silvery color. And, handling the raw fillets was really easy because it was very firm and sturdy. I never worried that it was going to fall apart.
Cooking the fish was easy. I seared each side for 2-3 minutes, until a nice golden crust started to develop. I glazed the fish, and then, I placed the seared and glazed fish in the oven to finish the cooking. The fish never stuck to the pan, though I do like to use my non-stick pan to make sure that I don’t have any issues with sticking. The barramundi was easy to flip as well; again, it’s a firm fish. Because of the added rub on the outside of the fish, it browned nicely, evenly, and easily.
The flavors of the glaze, as well as the tasty sides, complemented each other nicely without overpowering the barramundi. There’s acid in the dish from the pineapple salsa with lime juice and lime zest. There’s fresh herbs from the basil. There’s crunch from the pine nuts and the rice (which was cooked al dente). The salty elements come from the fish itself, as well as the rub on the fish, and the soy glaze (soy sauce can be pretty high in sodium, so I like to use reduced sodium soy sauce).
This fish dish was pretty easy to put together, but took a little bit of time. First, I made the pineapple salsa, which only took a few minutes because the food processor does most of the work. Then, I mixed together the soy glaze and cooked it for a few minutes to reduce it. The rice cooked in the rice maker while I cooked the glaze and the fish. And, then I cooked the fish for a total of about 15 minutes. Once all the parts were prepared, I plated the fish with the sides and the garnishes, which took another couple minutes. So, maybe the whole process took about 50 minutes or so; not a quick weeknight meal, but a super tasty impressive presentation for a nice dinner. And, there are several ways to cut some time off of this dish making it take less time to prep and more of a weeknight meal.
Black rice may be hard to find; my grocery store doesn’t carry it. My Trader’s Joe’s doesn’t have it anymore, but they used to. So, well-stocked grocery stores may carry it. I found some at my local Mother’s Market. Amazon carries it. But, if you prefer not to search for it, you could serve this fish with brown rice or even regular white rice.
And, if you didn’t want to make the salsa on your own, just buy a nice fruit salsa from the grocery store. I see them both in the jarred salsa section of the store and in the produce section. You could also buy regular tomato salsa and throw some pineapple into that.
Sustainability – This barramundi was raised by a company called Australis. It’s farmed in Turners Falls, Massachusetts, and it’s its scientific common name is Barramundi Perch. This company has a really interesting website, with much of their website dedicated to information on sustainability. “We’re proud to operate some of the most innovative and environmentally-friendly fish farms in the world and strive to continue to bring our delicious and healthy – not to mention – ocean-friendly species, barramundi, to a plate near you.” In addition, they have a great resources page.
I checked NOAA’s website to see what they said, but neither barramundi nor perch were listed. Barramundi was listed on Monterey Bay’s site though I’m a little confused by the info provided, as it was listed as a best choice, a good alternative, and avoid.
Thanks again to Seafood for the Future for helping me learn more about fish and sustainability.
- ¼ of a white onion
- 1 Anaheim Chili Pepper, or other mildly spicy pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 1 medium-sized sweet orange bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
- Zest and juice of 1 lime
- salt and pepper
- ½ cup fresh pineapple, cut into small chunks
- Place onion, peppers, lime zest, lime juice, salt, and pepper in bowl of a food processor. Pulse until all ingredients are cut into small confetti pieces. Place pepper mixture in a bowl and gently mix in pineapple. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Makes more than enough for dinner. Serve the extra salsa with chips as a snack, or over orange chicken for lunch tomorrow.
- 1 ¾ cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup black rice
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
- Fresh Parmesan cheese for garnish
- Combine first 3 ingredients (broth through salt) in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand covered for a few minutes. Alternatively, a rice cooker may be used with the same water to rice ratio.
- Stir basil into the cooked rice, top with pine nuts, and grate fresh Parmesan over the top.
- Makes 4 servings, or about 3 cups rice
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Whisk ingredients together in small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat; simmer until thickened and reduced by about half, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
- Makes about 1/2 cup, and you may have more glaze than you need for your fish fillets
- 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 barramundi fillets (6 ounces each)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 recipe glaze (see above)
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 °F. Combine brown sugar, salt, and cornstarch in small bowl. Pat fish dry with paper towels and season with pepper. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture evenly over top of the fish, rubbing to distribute.
- Heat oil in 12-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place fish in skillet being careful not to overcrowd the pan, fish may be cooked in two batches if necessary. Cook until well browned, about 2-3 minutes. Using tongs, carefully flip fish and cook until golden, about 2 more minutes.
- Remove skillet from heat and spoon glaze evenly over fillets. Transfer skillet to oven and cook until center of thickest part of fillets registers 125 °F on instant-read thermometer and is still translucent when cut into with paring knife, about 5 minutes. Transfer fillets to platter or individual plates and serve.
- To plate: take about ¾ cup of rice and mound in the middle of the dinner plate. Place a glazed fish fillet on top of the rice. Arrange the pineapple salsa on top of the fish fillet, and garnish with additional basil.
- Prepare the glaze before you cook the fish. If your nonstick skillet isn't ovensafe, sear the fish as directed, then transfer it to a rimmed baking sheet, glaze it, and continue as directed.