Commercially farmed fish has seen tremendous growth over the last few years thanks to growing demand for fish and fish protein. This concept is not alien to Saudi Arabia with the ‘National Aquaculture Group’ or NAQUA being at the forefront of pisciculture in the kingdom.They also happen to be one among the largest aquaculture operations in the world.
I was contacted by NAQUA to review one of their products and was sent a batch of gilled, gutted and scaled ‘Red Sea Barramundi’ fresh in a polystyrene box weighing close to 10 kilos.
Cutting this fish isn’t the easiest and will require a large sharp knife to cut it down to size. I decided to grill one of them whole using my own marinade and my wife managed to fillet the other whole barramundi to experiment with later.
We decided to prepare ‘Oven Baked Whole Barramundi’ and ‘Pan Seared Barramundi Fillet’ with the latter being served with a generous helping of mashed potatoes.
For the ‘Oven Baked Whole Barramundi’ I used 2-3 tbsp red chilli powder, 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste, 1/2 lemon, ground pepper and sea salt to marinade and let it sit for an hour before popping it in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 220C. Make sure to preheat the oven though or else you will have to keep it on for a bit longer. The fish cooks quite easily and this is best enjoyed baked especially since it absorbs the marinade well and stays moist. The fish was flaky and appetising and I am quite surprised I’ve never thought of trying this fish before.
For the ‘Pan Seared Barramundi Fillet’, I decided to keep the skin on and pan sear it. The marinade is very simple with olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground pepper and a hint of lemon being the only ingredients used. Make sure to rub it in nicely and let sit for a few minutes before pan searing the fish in butter with the skin side down. On low heat, let it cook well till skin is crispy and flip to finish the other side. It doesn’t take long to cook this fish thankfully and while the wife prepared the mashed potatoes, I finished this beautiful cut of fish basting it regularly in the butter till it was cooked to golden perfection. The mash makes for great side but if you would like to take it to the next level, be generous with the lemon. I absolutely loved how this beautiful piece of fish turned out and if you would like to buy this fish, here are some points you’ll need to note down.
The ‘Red Sea Barramundi’ is not an easy fish to clean and descale but that’s where NAQUA takes care of business. The fish is de-scaled and available Fresh or Frozen in Jeddah, Riyadh & Dammam. Currently deliveries are only available in Jeddah and in Dammam you’ll find this at Lulu Hypermarket. NAQUA plans to expand to the Eastern Province soon and will offer both the clean and frozen versions and they aren’t just limited to ‘Red Sea Barramundi’. They deal with freshly farmed fish & sea cucumbers too!
You can check out their website on https://naqua.com.sa/en/home for more details.