Crispy Skin Pan Seared Barramundi with Red Thai Curry

Have you ever tried Barramundi?  If not, this is most definitely a fish you want to include in your diet!  Think of Barramundi as “the Sustainable Sea Bass”.  It’s a firm-fleshed, meaty white fish, with a buttery texture and it’s super versatile when it comes to cooking.  It’s also high in protein, low fat, loaded with Omega-3s and has half the calories of salmon.  And, not only is Barramundi healthy for you, but it’s healthier for the planet, too…it’s sustainably farm raised using innovative Smart Aquaculture techniques.

You can find Barramundi at Fish Club: http://fishclub.com.my/shop/barramundi-fillet-600g/

I never eat the skin on fish…unless it’s seared and super crispy.  Then, it’s delicious!  So, since this fish comes with skin on, pan seared Barramundi was a no-brainer.

Kelli’s tips for super crispy skin:
(1) Use a paper towel to pat down the fish so that it’s totally dry before cooking.  If the skin is still moist, the fish will stick to the pan.

(2) You’ll get crispier skin using a cast iron or stainless steel pan, versus a non-stick pan.

(3) Use a hot pan.  Let the pan get hot over medium-high heat for a few minutes before you add oil or start cooking.  If the pan isn’t hot enough, the fish still stick.

(4) Once you add the fish to the hot pan, it naturally wants to seize up and contract.  Using a fish spatula, gently press down on the fillet for about 30 seconds.

(4) As tempting as it is, after adding the fish to the pan, don’t try to lift it up to check the doneness of the skin.  Just let it cook.  Once the skin has fully cooked and crisped up, it will naturally release from the bottom of the pan and you’ll notice a golden brown color around the edges.

This dish is an indecisive-food-lover’s dream.  Why choose between French and Thai when you can have them both on the same plate!

Beurre Blanc is a traditional French sauce, that literally translate to “white butter”, and is often paired with fish.  The red Thai curry paste  takes the “blanc” out of the “beurre”, and turns this sauce upside down, adding another dimension and deeper layers of spiced flavor.  This sauce can be a little on the heavy side, so just a few dollops do the trick.

The Cilantro Gremolata is such a small part of this dish, but huge at the same time because it’s what ties everything together.


Crispy Skin Pan Seared Barramundi with Red Thai Curry Beurre Blanc and Cilantro Gremolata

Yield: Serves 2


For the gremolata
    • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, very finely chopped
    • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
    • 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
    • 1/2 lime, zest & juice
    • salt
For the Beurre Blanc
    • 1 shallot, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used sauvignon blanc)
    • 2 tablespoons red Thai curry paste
    • 1 tablespoon water, optional
    • 1 stick butter, cubed and cold
    • salt
For the fish
  • 2 4-ounce barramundi fillets
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • salt
  • fresh ground pepper


Remove the Barramundi from the refrigerator about 20-30 minutes before you’re ready to cook. This will bring it up to room temperature and help it cook evenly.

For the gremolata

In a small bowl, combine cilantro, garlic, ginger, lime zest & juice and a pinch of salt. Mix together, taste and season with additional salt, if necessary. Set aside.

For the beurre blanc

In a medium saute pan, combine shallot, garlic, white wine and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat until the wine is reduced by about 75%. Whisk in the red Thai curry paste and cook for another minute. The sauce should be a medium consistency, if it feels thick you can add a tablespoon of water. Add one cube of the cold butter and whisk constantly until it’s completely melted. Add a second cube of cold butter and whisk constantly until it’s melted. Repeat with the remaining cubes of butter. Once the last cube of butter has melted remove the pan from the heat. Pass the sauce through a fine mesh strainer. Set aside.

For the fish

Use a paper towel to pat the fish dry. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper. Heat a large pan (preferably cast iron or stainless steel, but non-stick also works) over medium high heat for a few minutes. Add the coconut oil to the pan, and let it heat for a minute so it’s very hot but not smoking. If it does start smoking, just remove it from the burner for a minute. Carefully add the Barramundi skin side down. The fish will naturally want to seize up and contract, use a fish spatula and press down on the fish for about 30 seconds.

Continue to cook the fish, undisturbed. As the fish cooks, you’ll notice the cooked portion slowly moving up the sides. When this is about 3/4 of the way up, about 5 minutes or so, depending on the thickness of the fish, flip the fish over and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove the fish from the pan.

To serve

Transfer the fish to plates, add the beurre blanc sauce around the edge and top the fish with a spoonful of the cilantro gremolata.


This is great served with purple Thai rice, or any one of your favorite grains.

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