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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Barracuda – Barracuda, the fish. The European Barracuda in French Cuisine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Barracuda, Bécune Européenne, Brochet de Mer or Spet -The European Barracuda; the Mediterranean Barracuda; the Striped Barracuda.

The European Barracuda is a tasty and firm-fleshed fish. Nevertheless, it is a slightly fatty fish and so it will be on French menus marinated or prepared as grilled or baked filets. Japanese restaurants in France will when available, offer barracuda sashimi.  If the local fishermen and women catch a school of young barracuda, they will be adding their flavor to a fish soup or stew.

Osprey also like barracuda for lunch.

The European barracuda is not large; it weighs up to 3 kilos (6.6lbs). The fish seen in markets are mostly around 50 cms (20”) in length though some can reach an impressive one meter (40 inches). All barracudas look like javelins, and that spear like appearance and their fang-like teeth add to their threatening presence.  Worry not; the European barracuda never attacks swimmers.  The adult barracuda is a solitary fish and keeps close to reefs and rocks where it is a prize for spear fishermen and women. The fish’s looks account for one of its French names the Brochet de Mer, the Pike of the Sea.  (Pike, are a freshwater fish and called Brochet in French). The barracuda on the menu will usually be a bycatch and on the menu as a daily special.
European barracuda on French menus:

Blanquette De Barracuda – A barracuda stew. The recipes for blanquettes include mushrooms, a cream sauce and usually a white wine.

Brochet de Mer/Spet Grillé au Feu de Bois Accompagné de Carottes et Radis Variétés Anciennes – Barracuda grilled over charcoal and accompanied by heirloom carrots and radishes.
Baby barracuda for one.
Carpaccio De Barracuda - Barracuda Carpaccio. Very thin slices of marinated barracuda prepared as a Carpaccio.

Dos de Barracuda Grillé au Beurre -– A thick cut of barracuda, grilled and flavored with butter.
Lightly grilled barracuda.
Filet de Barracuda Cuisson au Beurre Noisette – Filet of barracuda prepared in a beurre noisette.   Noisettes are hazelnuts and Beurre Noisette is butter melted until its scent, flavour and color resembles hazelnuts.
A school of young barracuda

In France’s Caribbean and Indian Ocean departments the barracuda caught may include many different family members.  The giant barracuda, the subject of National Geographic movies, may weigh 50 kilos (110lb) but will practically never be on the menu  as many suffer from a marine toxin.
(Catalan – espet), (Dutch -barracuda), (German- barrakuda), (Italian- barracuda, luccio marino, luzzo de mar), (Spanish. - barracuda, espetón).
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Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2017.
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