4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

A bass by any other name

Seeking barramundi in Coronado

The southern hemisphere fish, Barramundi, referred to on the menu as Australian sea bass.
The southern hemisphere fish, Barramundi, referred to on the menu as Australian sea bass.

I enjoy a good plate of sea bass. At least I think I do. While there were once plenty of bass in the sea, they’ve mostly been overfished, and with each passing year it’s less likely the bass on my menu is a bass.

Place

Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill

1701 Strand Way, Coronado

Instead, “sea bass” has become a generic term used to describe mild, flakey white fish. So-called Chilean sea bass? That’s really a Patagonian toothfish. White sea bass? That’s a croaker. Blue spotted, Hawaiian, and black sea bass are all groupers, while Peruvian and Japanese sea bass are both perch.

Part of the reason for this is marketing (no one would order toothfish off a menu). But it’s also a matter of conservation. For example, the giant sea bass, once plentiful off our coast, were fished to near extinction by the 1980s. You may get farm-raised striped bass or branzino (European sea bass), but more often you’ll see some of these others, which might be considered fish alternatives for people who like sea bass.

Thing is, if bass-like is close enough to stake the claim on our dinner menus, the replacement fish better be worth the ruse. For example, Chilean sea bass has been praised for fine flavor and texture, but it’s endangered and plagued by high mercury levels. However, another southern hemisphere bass alternative promises both sustainability and low mercury: the Australian sea bass.

This fish is called a barramundi, and its life cycle is sort of the reverse of a salmon: it lives in rivers but spawns in ocean water. Like salmon, it’s high in super-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but like the bass it’s white and flaky when cooked. And unlike a lot of farmed fish, it’s said to be raised in low-density tanks (rather than exposed to a polluted ocean), each fish yielding a higher volume of seafood than it consumes.

It sounds great on paper, but how would it taste? To find out, I visited Bluewater Boathouse and Seafood Grill. Not to be confused with the popular Mission Hills fish market, this stunning dockside restaurant resides in the 130-year-old former Hotel del Coronado boat house, which sits across the street from the hotel and boasts architecture to match.

Barramundi appears to be its sea bass of choice, and I found it listed as “Seabass, Australian” for $26 on the Today’s Fish menu. Other fish include sanddabs, rainbow trout, and ahi tuna — an encouraging variety. Less encouraging is that Bluewater serves tilapia, which is gross, whatever you call it.

My barramundi came out pan-seared, with tasty sides of sautéed spinach and scalloped potatoes. Given a choice of sauce I went with Chermoula, apparently a popular fish condiment on the North African side of the Mediterranean.

The herbal sauce was fine, but the barramundi ate pretty well on its own, as its mild flavor responded to light seasoning from its sear. Its high oil content ensured it stayed moist, and it had more of a meaty toothsome, meaty texture than some flaky fish. From a purely epicurean perspective, I prefer a genuine bass, especially branzino. But, anytime I’m in pursuit of a healthy seafood diet, I will have no trouble ordering barramundi by name.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Tijuana's respect for the body, goodbye Revolucion flower sellers. Frank Lloyd Wright and Tecate

Why Mexico loves Abe Lincoln, cardboard shacks replace by cultural beauty, Tijuana River brings us sewage
The southern hemisphere fish, Barramundi, referred to on the menu as Australian sea bass.
The southern hemisphere fish, Barramundi, referred to on the menu as Australian sea bass.

I enjoy a good plate of sea bass. At least I think I do. While there were once plenty of bass in the sea, they’ve mostly been overfished, and with each passing year it’s less likely the bass on my menu is a bass.

Place

Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill

1701 Strand Way, Coronado

Instead, “sea bass” has become a generic term used to describe mild, flakey white fish. So-called Chilean sea bass? That’s really a Patagonian toothfish. White sea bass? That’s a croaker. Blue spotted, Hawaiian, and black sea bass are all groupers, while Peruvian and Japanese sea bass are both perch.

Part of the reason for this is marketing (no one would order toothfish off a menu). But it’s also a matter of conservation. For example, the giant sea bass, once plentiful off our coast, were fished to near extinction by the 1980s. You may get farm-raised striped bass or branzino (European sea bass), but more often you’ll see some of these others, which might be considered fish alternatives for people who like sea bass.

Thing is, if bass-like is close enough to stake the claim on our dinner menus, the replacement fish better be worth the ruse. For example, Chilean sea bass has been praised for fine flavor and texture, but it’s endangered and plagued by high mercury levels. However, another southern hemisphere bass alternative promises both sustainability and low mercury: the Australian sea bass.

This fish is called a barramundi, and its life cycle is sort of the reverse of a salmon: it lives in rivers but spawns in ocean water. Like salmon, it’s high in super-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but like the bass it’s white and flaky when cooked. And unlike a lot of farmed fish, it’s said to be raised in low-density tanks (rather than exposed to a polluted ocean), each fish yielding a higher volume of seafood than it consumes.

It sounds great on paper, but how would it taste? To find out, I visited Bluewater Boathouse and Seafood Grill. Not to be confused with the popular Mission Hills fish market, this stunning dockside restaurant resides in the 130-year-old former Hotel del Coronado boat house, which sits across the street from the hotel and boasts architecture to match.

Barramundi appears to be its sea bass of choice, and I found it listed as “Seabass, Australian” for $26 on the Today’s Fish menu. Other fish include sanddabs, rainbow trout, and ahi tuna — an encouraging variety. Less encouraging is that Bluewater serves tilapia, which is gross, whatever you call it.

My barramundi came out pan-seared, with tasty sides of sautéed spinach and scalloped potatoes. Given a choice of sauce I went with Chermoula, apparently a popular fish condiment on the North African side of the Mediterranean.

The herbal sauce was fine, but the barramundi ate pretty well on its own, as its mild flavor responded to light seasoning from its sear. Its high oil content ensured it stayed moist, and it had more of a meaty toothsome, meaty texture than some flaky fish. From a purely epicurean perspective, I prefer a genuine bass, especially branzino. But, anytime I’m in pursuit of a healthy seafood diet, I will have no trouble ordering barramundi by name.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

San Diego's gay bathhouses, wild life of our foreign cabbies, best light in the city

Tans – the ultimate vanity, perilous life of border crossers, where San Diego street racers go now
Next Article

Council sneaks in vote on 30th Street bike lanes at last minute

Save 30th gets less than 24 hours notice
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close