What can I use instead of barramundi? The best substitute for barramundi is the grouper, a type of sea bass. Snapper, sole, striped bass, halibut, Chilean sea bass, and mahi-mahi are delicious alternatives. Cod and tilapia are handy and affordable options.
Barramundi, or the Asian sea bass, is a firm, white fish with a buttery, sweet flavor. Sold whole and in fillets, barramundi comes both with skin on or removed. Barramundi is versatile and suitable for frying, grilling, roasting, sautéeing, and baking. Because of its high-fat content, barramundi is difficult to overcook.
Here are the nine best substitutes for barramundi.
The Best Barramundi Substitutes
The best substitute for barramundi is grouper, also part of the sea bass family.
Grouper is not a single fish but a related group of sea bass, including the black grouper, the red grouper, and the gag.
Whichever variety you choose, grouper tends to be lean, with firm white flesh that melts in your mouth like sweet morsels of lobster.
Grouper is hugely versatile. It is mouth-watering whether grilled, battered and fried, baked, or broiled. The light flavor lends itself to the sharpness of garlic and lemon and the mildness of olive oil and butter.
Because the two fish have a similar flavor and texture, you can replace barramundi with the same weight of grouper in most recipes.
Snapper, particularly red snapper, is a delectable alternative to barramundi.
Several types of snapper are available in different parts of the world, including mutton, vermilion, mangrove, and yellowtail snapper.
However, the most sought-after is red snapper, a white fish with a delicate, nutty flavor and moist texture.
Like barramundi, red snapper is a versatile ingredient. It comes into its own when grilled, but you can broil, fry, sautée, bake or steam this tasty fish whole or in fillets.
Snapper’s firm texture also makes it suitable for stews.
Its mildness works well with robust flavors, including chili, ginger, lemon, fresh herbs, and tropical fruit, ingredients that often feature in marinades, sauces, or stuffing.
Replace barramundi with red snapper or yellowtail snapper in a 1:1 ratio.
Sole is an ideal alternative to barramundi.
This white flatfish is popular worldwide and is also known as flounder, dab, plaice, and fluke.
Sole has particularly tender and sweet flesh that remains firm when cooked. The bones are easily removed, making it a pleasure to eat.
Choose sole as a barramundi substitute if you want a quick cooking and low-fat fish.
Sole is best baked whole with lemon, but you can also bake, pan-fry, broil or poach fillets. Because of its delicate texture, sole is not ideal for grilling.
Replace barramundi with an equal weight of sole.
One of America’s most popular fish, the striped bass, is a lovely replacement for barramundi.
Striped bass is also known as striper and is fished off the US coasts. Wild striped bass, caught during angling season, is most delicious, while farmed striped bass is also tasty and sustainable.
This healthy fish has meaty white flesh, which flakes nicely, and a delightful buttery sweetness.
Striped bass, like barramundi, is exceptionally versatile and can be roasted, pan-fried, sautéed, poached, or steamed.
Fillets are excellent grilled, while a whole fish is perfect for roasting or baking with salt and lemon.
Substitute striped bass for barramundi in the same amount.
Halibut is a great alternative to barramundi.
Like sole, halibut is a flatfish or flounder native to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Unfortunately, the Atlantic halibut population has been depleted by overfishing, so the sustainable choice is Pacific halibut.
The fish has a pleasantly sweet taste and firm, lean, pinkish-white flesh that flakes easily once cooked.
Despite its meaty texture, halibut dries out quickly if overcooked, especially if previously frozen.
It is best poached in a bit of liquid, such as white wine, steamed Chinese style with garlic, ginger, and soy sauce, or en papillote.
Replace barramundi with a similar weight of halibut.
Chilean Sea Bass
For a high-end alternative to barramundi, choose Chilean sea bass.
Despite being marketed as sea bass, this fish is a variety of grouper called the toothfish. It is high in omega oils, being fished in the icy waters near the Antarctic.
Chilean sea bass is in demand by restauranteurs and chefs as it has a rich, luscious flavor and succulent texture.
Ensure that you purchase it from a reputable source, as the toothfish is in danger of overfishing by unscrupulous companies. It is a luxury fish and pricier than other options.
However, if you want a magnificent meal, sautée Chilean sea bass fillets and dress lightly with a lemon-butter sauce. It is also excellent grilled, baked, and pan-seared.
You will need less Chilean sea bass than barramundi as it is a richer fish.
Another tasty alternative to barramundi is mahi-mahi.
Mahi-mahi, also called dorado, is an oil-rich fish that lives in tropical oceans. Sometimes mahi-mahi is called dolphin fish, but it is not related to the friendly mammals of the same name.
The challenge around purchasing mahi-mahi is it is not always fished in an eco-friendly way, with lines trapping seabirds, turtles, and sharks.
If you stick to mahi-mahi from Ecuador or the US, you will buy sustainably caught fish.
While mahi-mahi is also a firm-textured white fish, it has denser flesh and a more robust flavor than barramundi.
It also has a thick skin you need to remove before cooking. Still, it is an exceptionally tasty fish that goes well with citrus flavors.
Mahi-mahi lends itself to all cooking techniques, making it an ideal 1:1 substitute for barramundi.
The proviso is that you should keep added fat to a minimum.
Cod is a convenient and accessible substitute for barramundi.
This commonly eaten and popular fish is available at most supermarkets as fresh or frozen fillets. It has soft white meat with a delicate flavor that cooks into tender flakes.
Choose thick, moist fillets you can batter and fry, sautée, bake, or poach.
Cod’s mildness marries well with more robust flavors, such as Mediterranean-style tomatoes, fresh herbs, lemons, and olive oil, or Asian soy sauce, garlic, mirin, and ginger.
Replace barramundi with the same amount of cod.
Note that cod is unsuitable for grilling, as its texture is too delicate.
Another lean, white fish that conveniently replaces barramundi is tilapia.
Tilapia is a freshwater fish with flaky meat, a soft texture, and a pleasant flavor. It is not the same as Nile perch, an East African fish, although the two are often confused.
Most tilapia is farmed, making it affordable and accessible.
However, take care to purchase good-quality tilapia; otherwise, it can be flavorless and potentially unhealthy, depending on farming practices.
Tilapia lends itself to poaching, roasting, and grilling.
Replace barramundi with similar amounts of tilapia when you want a tender fish that can meld well with potent flavors, such as in a curry.