Tom Harper’s Award-Winning Barramundi Dish – Grilled Barramundi On A Stick With Pineapple, Achiote & Sour Cream

by Chef Tom Harper (Indigo Oscar)



Prep Time:

3 hours or start the day before

Cook time:

1 hour

Spanish for pregnant fish, pescado embarazado is a mishearing of this dish’s actual name, pescado en vara asado, or grilled fish on a stick, it’s one of the most popular dishes to eat at the beach in Nayarit, Mexico. In this Cottesloe Beach version the marinade is made from Achiote paste, jalapeños, citrus and cumin. Chargrilled and served with salt baked pineapple glaze, sour cream and puffed Barra skin. 


  • 1 side of barramundi, skin removed (keep the skin for the crisp)
  • 1 pineapple, top removed
  • Rock salt 300g
  • Thumb of ginger
  • 1 stick of lemongrass
  • 100g sugar
  • Coriander 1 bunch
  • Achiote paste 30g
  • 2 jalapenos
  • Oregano fresh ½ bunch
  • Olive oil 120ml
  • Ground all spice 6g
  • Ground cumin 6g
  • White Sesame seeds 25g
  • Fennel seeds 6g
  • Paprika 6g
  • Chardonnay vinegar 80ml
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Good quality sour cream
  • Franks hot sauce
  • Chicken stock 100ml
  • Fish sauce 1 tbs
  • 2 limes
  • Ice for ice bath


For the Barramundi:

  1. Portion the barramundi into 3cm width length strips using a sharp knife.
  2. For the skin (optional but adds crunch to the final dish):
  • Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and have an ice bath ready.
  • Blanch the skin for 1 minute then transfer the skin to the ice bath to cool quickly, once cool remove the skin from the ice, using a spoon scrape off any remaining meat from the skin.
  • Line a flat tray with baking paper, then lay the skin out on the lined tray, place in a dehydrator or oven on 70 degrees for 4 hours or overnight till dry and brittle.
  1. Once fish is dry heat a pot of vegetable oil to 200 degrees, break the dried fish skin into workable pieces, then fry one piece at a time, it should puff up a little then move it around in the oil using tongs for a few seconds to make sure it’s completely crispy, but don’t keep in the oil too long as it can burn.
  2. Remove from the oil to a plate with paper towel to help absorb any excess oil, season with salt and pepper.

For the Achiote Marinade

  1. Place the olive oil, jalapenos and garlic cloves in a pot and cook on very low temp for 1 hour till garlic and jalapeno are completely soft, add the spices, achiote, sesame seeds, and chardonnay vinegar and cook for 5 minutes on low then allow to cool.
  2. Once cool, add chopped coriander and oregano leaves and transfer to a food processor and blend till combined. Season with salt, black pepper and plenty of lime zest. This can also be used as a condiment for other dishes. 
  3. Marinate the barramundi strips with this marinade mix for 1 hour before skewering

For the Salt Baked Pineapple Glaze

  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees 
  2. Line a baking tray with the rock salt, place whole pineapple on top of the salt and wrap the tray with foil. Roast for 40 minutes, now remove the foil and continue to bake for another 20 minutes. Once cooked, allow to cool.
  3. Peel the pineapple using a sharp knife, now roughly dice the pineapple before blending with the ginger, lemongrass, sugar and a small amount of water. 
  4. Transfer the pineapple mixture to a pot, cook for 20 minutes reducing by 1/3. Strain mixture and reserve the juice. It should now be a little syrupy but not too thick. Add a squeeze of lime juice to finish.

For the Hot Sauce Glaze

Bring a 100ml of the pineapple glaze, 20g Franks hot sauce, 100ml of chicken stock to the boil and reduce to a glaze, season with the fish sauce.

Cooking the skewers

  1. Using a bbq or char grill, place a cake rack over the hottest part of your bbq, spray the rack with spray oil, season the fish with a little flake salt, now transfer the skewers to the rack and cook on one side for 3 minutes, looking for some nice colour and caramelization, some small black bits are good! 
  2. Turn the skewers over and brush with the hot sauce glaze and continue to cook till the barramundi is just cooked through, a good way to check is if a skewer can be inserted through the fish without any resistance. 
  3. Remove skewers from the grill brush again with the glaze and allow to rest for a couple minutes on a plate.


  1. Add a nice dollop of the sour cream to the plate, drizzle with a little bit of the achiote marinade.
  2. Place the skewers next to the sour cream, spoon over the pineapple glaze, and break the barramundi skin over the skewers.

Tom Harper’s Award-Winning Barramundi Dish – Grilled Barramundi On A Stick With Pineapple, Achiote & Sour Cream