In which I confront a barramundi with a butter knife and a paper towel

It looks so innocent at first...

It looks so innocent at first...

You all should know by now that I tend to think labor isn’t worth much. At least, when it happens to be my own. So it should come as no surprise when I tell you I walked into Victoria Markets in Melbourne and decided to buy a whole fish. Despite the fact that I had no oven, and would have to fillet the damn thing myself with a knife that is probably older than I am. Not that I have a thing against old knives, but imagine one that hasn’t been sharpened in that amount of time, and you’ll understand what I’m getting at.

I wanted a barramundi, and I didn’t want to pay more than $10/kg for it (that is a little less than $5/lb for those of you back home). I figured I had found a place with a kitchen for a reason, right? Of course, if you’ve ever stayed in such a place, you may already realize that these apartments are not designed with the “gourmet” food snob in mind. The cutting board was the size of a small paperback book, and my fish wasn’t exactly tiny. The fish I chose was the smallest one I could find, and it actually weighed about a kilo. But it cost me $10. And I would get the head and all!

Which would make sense if I were at home and planning to make fish stock. Right.

Anyway, I made a huge mess cutting this thing into fillets. I probably even wasted a bit of its sweet, moist flesh. But I got there, eventually. I didn’t do much else to it — I cooked it in a bit of butter, with some garlic, salt, and pepper, and served it hot with a bit of lemon juice. The beautiful part about this was that I would have cooked it that way even if I were at home. You don’t need much to make this fish tasty.

You cant get much simpler than this.

You can't get much simpler than this.

I served it with some kale (or cavolo nero, as they called it in the market), which I sauteed in the same buttery garlicky mess I cooked the fish in, and some fingerling-like potatoes, which I got a kick out of because they were still covered in dirt. For the record, if you don’t mind washing potatoes yourself here in Australia, you can save yourself a bit of cash. Which is awesome when food actually costs what it should.

This also paired beautifully with the bread I found on St. Kilda. For the bread obsessed out there, here’s a close-up of the crumb:

No, its not a proper cross section. Remember, Im working with primitive tools.

No, it's not a proper cross section. I couldn't be bothered - trust me, it was gorgeous.

Too bad I have yet to find such a specimen in Canberra, where I’m setting in at the moment. The experiment is next week, and I’ve been working my ass off, so really, I don’t have much to report. I did make a mean curry udon noodle soup tonight with some drastically reduced Chinese broccoli, but I’ll save that for another night. In the meantime, check out my flickr page for a few shots from my short tour of the Dandenongs on Puffing Billy (I am a cheesy tourist sometimes) / on foot, depending on the view, and some foodie stuff from tonight. No actual pictures of Canberra yet, which is unsurprising because I’ve seen the man-made lake from a runner’s perspective and the inside of the lab. Oh, and the grocery store after dark. Exciting stuff, no? But more is soon to come, if I don’t manage to completely destroy my camera in the meantime. I busted the lens cover, apparently … Travel’s fun like that sometimes.


Filed under Australia, main, potatoes, stories

8 responses to “In which I confront a barramundi with a butter knife and a paper towel

  1. I really want to try Barramundi….if I find one here, I’ll snap it up and sacrifice it on my grill!

  2. liz

    Grilled barramundi is AWESOME, Peter — I hope you find some!

  3. Never heard of barramundi before, but it certainly sounds tasty!! (And you may win an award for best title / picture combo ever)

  4. pshazz

    flippin wicked! i actually just bought a whole salmon and wanted to filet it, but it ended up being turned into little steaks instead, since it was easier… oh well.

    glad to hear you are doing well!

  5. liz

    P –You have no idea how much I want salmon right now. Mmmm. Actually, I have a hard time filleting fish even with a good knife, so maybe the steaks were a better way to go… And just as tasty. Did you leave the bone in?

    Rachael — I don’t know how easy it is to get in the states; its habitat is definitely restricted to Australia. But if you ever make it over here, you know what to try. ๐Ÿ˜› Glad you liked the title / pic combo!

  6. Dee

    I love Barramundi, but I’ve only ever had it in Australia ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
    Great title, by the way ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Beautiful! Hey, it’s the taste that matters and from what I saw, u did really well!

  8. liz

    Dee — thanks! Yah, I’ve never seen it anywhere else.

    Daphne — Hehe… thanks. I’ll give my camera credit for that one. ๐Ÿ˜› But you’re right, it’s definitely the taste that matters.

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