This barramundi recipe with creamy polenta and garlicky kale is perfect weeknight dinner fare. Both the polenta and kale are low-maintenance side dishes and the fish cooks up in just minutes.
If you’re unfamiliar with barramundi, it’s a sustainably-farmed fish native to Australia and the Indo-Pacific region. It’s a white flesh fish with a mild flavor similar to grouper or halibut. Barramundi is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, and just one serving provides up to 60% of your daily protein needs. If you’re a fan of my site, you know that I’m always talking about eating more plants and less animal proteins. But if the latter is a necessary part of your personal diet, sustainable seafood is an undeniably better choice than land-based livestock – both for human health and the planet’s. (Click here to find out where you can find barramundi near you.)
Thanks to its firm texture, barramundi can be grilled, poached, braised or roasted. I like my seafood prepared as simply as possible to preserve its delicate flavor, so this barramundi recipe is quickly seared and finished with a squeeze of lemon. As for the polenta, keep in mind that it’s tastiest when eaten immediately. As it cools, it will firm up; if you have any left over, spread it in an even layer in a shallow dish and refrigerate. To reheat, cut the polenta into squares, pan-fry it in a bit of oil and serve it with tomato sauce as a snack or light meal. As for the kale, this sautéing in garlic technique will turn even the biggest kale hater into a believer (feel free to use it for spinach and chard as well).
This breezy barramundi recipe is perfect weeknight dinner fare.
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 ½ cups whole milk, or unsweetened cashew or soy milk
- Sea salt + freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup coarse polenta
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 large garlic cloves, sliced
- Pinch of hot red pepper flakes
- 1 large bunch lacinato (Tuscan) kale, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Four 4-ounce filets of Australis Barramundi, patted dry
- Lemon wedges, to serve
- Combine the water and milk in a medium pot. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Add ¼ teaspoon salt. Slowly whisk in the polenta, continuing to whisk for 2-3 minutes until no lumps remain and the polenta does not sink to the bottom of the pot when you stop whisking. Reduce the heat down to low and cover tightly with a lid. Cook polenta for 20-30 minutes, stirring and scraping down the sides of the pot frequently, until the polenta is thick, creamy and cooked through. Turn the heat off and stir in the butter. Taste and season with salt, if needed.
- In the meantime, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add kale. Using tongs, toss the kale in oil to evenly coat the leaves. Cook for 2 minutes, until kale starts to wilt. Then add a couple of tablespoons of water to the pan to create steam. Cook the kale for an additional 2 minutes. Turn heat off and drizzle with lemon juice.
- Season the fish with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a separate large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, gently place the fish in the skillet skin side down. Cook for 3-4 minutes (3 for thinner slices, 4 for thicker), until the skin is browned, then gently flip the fish and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.
- To serve, divide the polenta among 4 bowls. Top with kale and seared barramundi. Serve with lemon wedges.