This easy fish pasta recipe is ready in 30 minutes with a bag of barramundi from the freezer, a quick lemon garlic sauce, and plenty of fresh parsley!
This quick, lemony white fish pasta is one of our favorite back-pocket recipes. It's ready in under an hour and endlessly customizable: Perfect for busy weeknights or a cozy date night in!
We're working with our favorite hearty, frozen barramundi fillets in this recipe. We love barramundi here because it holds its shape well after cooking and flakes into thick, tender pieces (great for twirling up with a bite of spaghetti!)
Barramundi also isn't very fishy, so it won't overwhelm the other flavorful elements in this dish.
Before you jump into this pasta dish, there are a few things we want to highlight (Scroll to the recipe card below for exact quantities!)
- Barramundi! We're working with our favorite barramundi fillets from The Better Fish® for this recipe. Find their Simply Skinless Barramundi Fillets in the freezer section, and quickly defrost in a bowl of cold water whenever you're ready to cook!
- A neutral oil with a high smoke point (like canola, vegetable, or grapeseed oil), lets you get a perfect sear on the fish without smoking or burning.
- Reserved pasta water is our secret weapon: A splash of this starchy elixir helps the sauce stick to the noodles and creates a silky finish.
- A fresh lemon is the star of the show here: We'll use the lemon zest and the lemon juice in this fish pasta!
Variations and Substitutions
This seafood pasta recipe is fairly forgiving, and easy to customize with whatever you have on hand! A few of our favorite riffs:
- Swap the pasta for zucchini noodles, or serve the fish and lemon sauce over a hearty grain bowl with plenty of veggies.
- Sprinkle the fish with your favorite blackened seasoning or cajun inspired seasoning before searing for an easy blackened fish pasta!
- Add a dollop of your favorite pesto (we love arugula pesto, cilantro pesto, or garlic scape pesto here!) for an easy fish pesto pasta.
- Add some veggies (broccoli, peas, mushrooms, asparagus, corn, bell peppers) or fresh greens (kale, spinach, or arugula).
- Add a splash of white wine to the sauce (like we do in our white wine fish pasta!) or add a splash of veggie or chicken broth for extra depth of flavor.
- For even more flavor, stir in roughly chopped kalamata olives, a spoonful of capers, extra garlic cloves (hooray for garlic pasta!), or some cherry tomatoes.
Meet The Better Fish® Barramundi
We are big fans of barramundi. It's hearty and meaty, which means it holds up well to just about any cooking method (we love using it in quick fish fajitas, barramundi chowder, and beyond - check out our barramundi recipes collection for more ideas!)
Sustainably Farmed Fish
The Better Fish® barramundi was the first ocean-farmed fish to receive a Best Choice rating from Monterey Bay's Seafood Watch program, and the company works with a variety of industry stakeholders to make the fish farming industry as a whole better for the fish, the environment, their workers, and their consumers.
Learn more about barramundi from our interview with The Better Fish® CEO Josh Goldman in this podcast episode!
Cook the Pasta
Start by bringing a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add plenty of salt, then add your dried spaghetti and give it a stir. Cook the pasta until it's just shy of al dente, then reserve a bit of pasta water, drain the rest of the noodles, and set aside.
Pro Tip: Prep the fish while you wait for the water to boil, then build the sauce while the spaghetti cooks - it'll all be ready at the same time!
Sear the Fish
Start by patting your barramundi fillets with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture (Image 1, above). The drier the surface of the fish, the better sear you'll get when you fry it up!
Sprinkle both sides of the fish with a bit of salt and pepper (Image 2), then heat a drizzle of oil in a sturdy, large skillet (we love using a cast iron skillet here; you can also use a nonstick skillet).
Cook the fish in the hot pan, flipping halfway through, until it turns bright white with a bit of golden brown and is crispy on both sides (Image 3). Note: Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to cook the fish in batches.
When the fish is cooked, remove it to a plate (Image 4). Don't worry if the fish falls apart a little bit here! It's all going to get twirled up into your spaghetti noodles anyway.
Leave the skillet on the stove - you'll use it to build your sauce in the next step!
Build the Sauce
Start by melting a bit of butter in the hot skillet (Image 5), then add minced garlic and red pepper flakes (Image 6). Cook for just a minute or two until the garlic is soft.
Pro Tip: The pan will be very hot once you remove the fish! Work quickly, keep an eye on the garlic to make sure it doesn't burn, and don't be afraid to remove the pan from the heat if it's too hot.
Once the garlic is soft, add the juice and zest of a lemon along with some fresh chopped parsley (Image 7). Stir everything together, then reserve a little bit of sauce to drizzle over the fish later (Image 8)!
Add the Pasta
Add cooked spaghetti to the skillet with the sauce, then toss it with a drizzle of reserved pasta water (Images 9 and 10). This helps the sauce stick to the noodles, adds flavor, and brings everything together so it's silky smooth! Give it a taste and add extra seasoning as necessary.
Top the pasta with your seared barramundi fillets, drizzle the reserved sauce over the top, and serve!
A Few FAQs
Any hearty fish works great here! For a white fish pasta, we love using haddock, sea bass, or cod in place of barramundi. Salmon is also delicious in this recipe! You can also swap the fish for shrimp (or prawns), tuna, lobster, crab, scallops, clams, or mussels. Alternatively, skip the seafood and use grilled chicken or crispy bacon in this pasta!
Absolutely! If you'd like a cream sauce, add ¼ cup of heavy cream after sautéing the garlic, and let it thicken before adding the lemon juice. You can also melt a bit of cream cheese, parmesan cheese, or goat cheese into this sauce before adding the pasta if you'd like it to be even thicker (more like an alfredo sauce). If you want an especially creamy fish pasta (or are just looking for a general fish pasta white sauce), you can also try our easy white sauce.
Fish and pasta make a delicious combination, and fish pasta recipes work well with just about any shape of pasta! We use spaghetti in this barramundi pasta recipe, although you can also use fettuccine, linguine, orzo, ravioli, or large rigatoni (like we do in our burst tomato fish pasta).
Video: How to make Barramundi Lemon Garlic Pasta
More Easy Barramundi Recipes
Don't forget to check out our full collection of recipes for barramundi!
This easy lemon garlic fish pasta has a light, flavorful sauce and seared barramundi fillets.
- ½ pound pasta (we used spaghetti)
- 2 The Better Fish® Barramundi fillets (about 12 ounces), thawed
- 1 Tablespoon neutral oil (we used grapeseed; you can also use canola or vegetable oil)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
- ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped, plus extra for garnish
Cook the Pasta:
- Cook spaghetti in a pot of very salty water until al dente. (I recommend prepping the rest of the recipe while you wait for the pasta to cook!)
- When pasta is al dente, reserve ½ cup of the pasta water.
- Drain pasta and set aside.
Sear the Barramundi:
- Pat barramundi fillets with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture (this prevents sticking and helps the fish brown when you cook it!)
- Lightly season both sides of the fish with salt. You can also add a bit of pepper here if you like!
- In a large nonstick or cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Tip: To prevent sticking, make sure your pan (and your oil) are very hot before adding the fish.
- When the skillet is hot, carefully place barramundi in the pan. You should hear a nice sizzle!
- Cook barramundi for about 2 minutes until the edges have begun to turn bright white. Carefully flip with a thin spatula and cook for two minutes more or until cooked through. Tip: If the fish is sticking to the pan, it needs to cook a little longer!
- Remove cooked barramundi to a plate. Return the skillet to the burner over LOW heat - the pan is still hot, and you don't want to burn anything while you finish the sauce!
Make the Sauce:
- Add butter to hot skillet and let it melt. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, for a minute or two until the garlic is soft and fragrant. Tip: The skillet will be VERY hot here - keep a close eye on it so your garlic doesn't burn, and turn off the heat if you need to!
- Stir lemon juice, lemon zest, and chopped parsley into the sauce. Bring it to a simmer, then use a ladle to remove a few Tablespoons of sauce and set it aside (you'll drizzle this over the top of the fish later!)
- Add cooked pasta to sauce and toss to combine. Add reserved pasta water a Tablespoon at a time (you likely won't need it all) and toss well until pasta is evenly coated in the sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Top spaghetti with cooked barramundi pieces. Drizzle the reserved lemon sauce over the top, add extra parsley for garnish (optional) and serve immediately.
Additions and Substitutions. Add veggies (zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower), greens (kale, spinach) or extra flavor enhancers (garlic, pesto, white wine) to this pasta to make it a bit heartier. Use salmon, cod, shrimp, or scallops in place of barramundi if you like. Use zucchini noodles in place of pasta, or serve the fish and sauce with a hearty grain bowl. This is a forgiving recipe: Add more or less of any ingredient to make it suit your tastes!
Don't skip the salt! Because this pasta is so simple, seasoning is especially important. Taste as you go, and add a pinch of salt as needed to help the flavors pop.
- Serving Size: 4 servings
- Calories: 417
- Sugar: 2.1 g
- Sodium: 111.5 mg
- Fat: 16.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 45.2 g
- Protein: 23.3 g
- Cholesterol: 69.6 mg
Keywords: seafood, pasta, date night