The Substitute: swai fish
Along with basa and tra, two related varieties also appearing at more and more stores, belong to what’s called the Pangasius family and they’re similar in character to catfish. In fact, the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, which has an authoritative site that tells you everything you ever wanted to know about the fish that end up on our dinner plates, describes swai as a river-farmed catfish, sometimes simply referred to in the U.S. only as catfish.
Swai is a white-flesh fish (typically available in fillet form) with a sweet mild, taste and light flaky texture that can be broiled, grilled, or coating with bread crumbs and fried, according to experts. It can be prepared simply, but also takes well to sauces. A 3.5-ounce serving of plain fish contains around 90 calories, 4 grams of fat (1.5 saturated), 45 grams of cholesterol and 50 milligrams of sodium.
The swai fish, unlike catfish which are found in ponds, is found in the rivers of Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam. If you don’t find the label swai fish in the local supermarket, it is called and labeled by other names–shark catfish, or striped catfish. I typically do not like fish. However, I love this one! It is light-tasting, and, in my opinion, does not have that 'fishy taste.' I serve this fish with English peas or green beans and wild rice or rice pilaf.
Swai fish may also be added to other dishes. The nuggets may be cooked and then tossed with pasta and other seafood for the perfect, healthy, and filling seafood pasta. This fish flakes quite easily and with the perfect mix-ins and some bread, it can be made into a sandwich. It may also be made into an open-faced sandwich by adding some olive oil, olives, cheese, and probably a bit of capers. Some recipes may even be developed on your own as you get to know this fish better.
Swai fish is a perfect alternative to the usual food fish, just to give the menu planning a bit of variety by introducing more fish to the list. This is a fish easy to cook, even with novice cooks starting out in the kitchen as it goes well with a variety of other ingredients and can be cooked using a lot of cooking techniques.
Seasoned Swai Fish Fillet
4 (4 ounce) fillets swai fish
2 tablespoons margarine
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a shallow pan or baking sheet with cooking spray.
Place fish fillets into the prepared pan.
Heat margarine in a saucepan over medium heat. Mix white wine, lemon juice, cilantro, garlic, salt, and black pepper into the melted margarine; simmer sauce for 2 minutes.
Generously glaze sauce over fish fillets. Sprinkle fillets with paprika.