• Chef Dylan

QLD BARRA BURGERS



A nicely charred barramundi fillet with my zesty, peppery Spartan marinade on a fresh bun from the local bakery makes this burger a perfect choice for a weekend lunch with friends or family.

After working hard to set up and run a restaurant for 5 years, 'Eden', a winery restaurant in the Gold Coast hinterland on Mount Tamborine my wife and I used the opportunity to take a year-long sabbatical. Having fallen in love through the art of travel we welcomed the opportunity once again to be 'foot loose and fancy free', as they say, and devised quite the trip - a round the world trip no less - to tick off bucket list goals and reconnect with much loved family and friends along the way.


We went exploring the deserts of Chile, walked in the remote mountains of Peru following the remote trail from Vilcabamba, the last resistance fortress of the Incas, on to the ancient ruins of the magnificent Machu Picchu. From there we adventured through Bolivia along treacherous mountain roads by bus to the Pampas wetlands, painstakingly slowly trudged down a mud-filled logging road, finally ending up at the Amazon River. We were then transported by small canoe deep inside the Amazon rainforest before checking out the largest waterfall in the world and exploring the wine regions of Argentina.


We flew to England and stayed with my wife's family around the UK and on the way back down to Australia we stopped in on some close friends in Germany and South Africa before meeting up with my wife’s father in Uganda, his birthplace. There we had the great fortune to go on safari and hike into the Bwindi impenetrable forest where we came face to face with wild mountain gorillas. Upon returning home from our far flung adventures we decided to seek out new opportunities as we envisaged we would open another restaurant.


My aunt had bought a share in a barramundi farm in Port Stephens, a sleepy seaside village near Newcastle in New South Wales, close by to my grandparents that had retired to the area from Sydney. The owners had just spent $100,000 building a function centre with a state-of-the-art kitchen and man-made lake filled with, you guessed it, barramundi. They had a huge tank in the dining room where diners could choose the barramundi of their choice and have it freshly cooked and served with chips and salad.


At first sight it seemed like a wonderful opportunity, but it had its issues - the farm was in a quite remote location and relied on tourist coaches to fill the lunchtime trade. The location also meant an hour’s drive each way for staff which would make a four-hour lunch shift hard to fill. Hence, they were unable to find a restaurateur to take it on even though they were offering a very cheap rent. We talked it over and decided to give it a miss.


Barramundi has to be one of Australia's most iconic fish and is popular in Queensland's for good reason. It's flaky, soft, white flesh is meaty and wholesome and what’s more it’s sustainably farmed here. Did you know barramundi spend the beginning of their life in fresh water and then migrate to seawater? Barramundi become sexually mature as males at about 3-4 years old. Males turn into females from about 5-6 years onwards but require saltwater for this sex change. They have large, silver scales which may become darker or lighter depending on their environments, and can live to at least 20 years of age. Their bodies can reach up to 1.8m though their average length is about 0.6-1.2m long with a maximum weight of ~60kg - that’s the size of an adult human! The barramundi it is not just native to Australia of course so is also known as Asian sea bass. It is a species of catadromous fish in the family Latidae of the order Perciformes. The species is widely distributed in the Indo-West Pacific region from South Asia to Papua New Guinea and thrives in Northern Australia. The fish is known as pla kapong in Thai and as bhetki in Bengali. With half the calories of salmon, barramundi is still packed with Omega-3 fatty acids known to promote both brain and cardiovascular health and offers 34 grams of lean protein in a 170g serving. So, if you've never cooked fish on the barbie, I suggest you give this super easy recipe a whirl. The trick is to let the fish char nicely before you try to flip it.


PREP TIME: 15 mins

COOKING TIME: 10-15 mins

SERVINGS: 4


INGREDIENTS

  • 4 x 120g Barramundi fillets skin on

  • 2 tbsps oil

  • 2 tbsps SPARTAN

  • 2 vine ripened tomato

  • 100g mixed lettuce

  • 4 x burger buns

  • 4 tbsps mayo, preferably homemade

  • 1 lemon cut into 4 pieces

METHOD

  1. Check barramundi for bones and remove from flesh if you find any.

  2. Mix SPARTAN with oil in a bowl and coat the barramundi evenly. Marinate for 20 mins MAX.

  3. Slice tomato, wash and portion lettuce.

  4. Grill barramundi on high heat for 4 mins each side or until cooked through.

  5. Toast buns for 30 seconds.

  6. To assemble your burgers, add mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and fillet of barramundi.

TO SERVE


Serve with a fresh squeeze of lemon just before eating. Add oven roasted hand cut chips and garlic aioli to complete the dish. Wash it all down with a crisp Semillon Sauvignon Blanc.