Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lemon Dill Barramundi with Panko crust

I was beginning to think that I had been cut from the ranks of the Frugal Antics Improv Challenge and was beginning to feel a bit insecure about my first entry last month.  So when this month's challenge arrived in my inbox I felt a sense of relief and excitement.  I have been thinking about doing a post about the Australian Sea Bass also known as Barramundi.

Barramundi fillet ready for inspiration.

Barramundi use in on the rise, and this once uncommon fish has begun to be farmed in larger numbers in the US.  Our local BJ's warehouse carries a lovely frozen package of frozen Barramundi produced by Australis.  I love this particular brand, because I can always rely on it tasting great - as along as I don't over cook it, that is.  You can check out my hints on fish preparation here.

The health benefits of eating fish are well documented, and Barramundi is an exceptionally healthy fish.  As listed on the Australis website, Barramundi is a mild whitefish that is loaded with Omega-3's, the fat associated with less inflammation in the body.

The mildness of the flavor of this fish makes it a favorite for my family.  I generally bake it with some sort of bread crumb crust, and this week my taste buds were feeling nostalgic for a grouper dish that I had at a friends wedding down in St. Augustine, Florida.  The fish was topped with a thick key lime key sauce and covered with a thin layer of breadcrumbs before baking.  The taste was amazingly fresh and light, and I think of that dish often.  I was inspired to begin a web search for a recipe that seemed similar to that dish, but nothing I happened upon even struck me as a distant cousin.

So I set out on my own to create a dish similar, but I knew it wasn't going to be close to what they served.  I didn't have any key limes, or key lime juice, in the house so I switched to lemon juice for the mayonnaise based sauce.  The dish turned out to be delicious, but just as I expected, not even a bastard stepchild of the dish served in St. Augustine.

My search will continue, but in the meantime this is an excellent and easy way to prepare Barramundi for a weeknight dinner.

Lemon Dill Barramundi with Panko Crust

6 Barramundi fillets, thawed if purchased frozen
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dill
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

Place Barramundi fillets in 8x8 baking dish, arranged so that the thin portions of the fillets are under the thicker portions.
Salt and pepper the fillets to your liking.
Combine lemon juice, mayonnaise and dill in small bowl.  Spread evenly over fillets in baking dish.
Sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over the mayonnaise covered fillets.
Bake at 350F until internal temperature of fillets reaches 110F (approximately 20 minutes).  Do not set and forget the timer, unlike other dishes where a bit of inattention can do wonders for the dish, baking fish in the oven requires a high level of attention.  I start checking the temperature of the fish at about 10 or 15 minutes into the baking time.
Allow fish to rest on counter for 10 minutes prior to serving.

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