Swai Fish Information & Recipes
Swai Fish Flavor Profile
Swai is a Catfish from Vietnam which has a milder taste and more delicate texture than our native Channel Catfish and may therefore be more approachable for people who do not normally care for catfish. Swai are moist, sweet and mild flavored with beige colored flesh which turns white after cooking. It is coarser and more grainy textured than Basa, which is closely related and sometimes wrongly sold as Swai. In Vietnam, Basa fish are preferred over Swai because of its more delicate flake and sweeter flavor. Because the Vietnamese like Basa better, and since Swai grows more quickly, more Swai is shipped to the US markets than Basa.
Typical Cooking Methods
Tra, Iridescent Shark, Shark Catfish, Striper (Trader Joe's), Striped Catfish, Striped Pangasius, River Cobbler (UK). Swai is sometimes incorrectly called Basa or Panga.
The quality of catfish is dependent upon the water conditions and feed. Watch out for “specials” which may feature lower quality product. Know and trust your vendor, some oversees packers have been known to load only 80 - 90% of the weight into the case.
Some Vietnamese processors will also soak their basa fillets in sodium tripolyphosphate to increase yields, and they won’t always put it on the label as they’re supposed to. While proper use of STP is a widely accepted processing practice used to maintain both moisture and quality, improper use of STP can result in excessive moisture loss after thawing, which results in an inferior and more expensive product.
Typical Wholesale Products
Frozen skin/off fillets weighing from 2 oz to 11 oz each. Typical grading is: 3-5 oz, 5-7 oz, and 7-9 oz. It is available as raw unbreaded fillets, and with a variety of breadings including a parmesean breading.
Description (Pangasius hypophthalamus)
Swai have fins which are dark grey or black. Juveniles have a black stripe along the lateral line and a second black stripe below the lateral line. Juveniles also have shiny, iridescent skin which is why they have the name Iridescent Shark. Larger adults on the other hand are uniformly grey and lack both the striping and the iridescent quality. Adults reach up to 4 feet (130 cm) in length and can weigh up to a maximum of 97 lb (44 kg).
Photo by Lerdsuwa distributed under license GNU Free Documentation License
Fresh seafood availability chart: green areas show peak availability, light green show limited availability, gray indicates not available fresh. Fresh Swai is rarely available in the United States. Frozen Swai fish is available all year long.
Swai Butchering Yield Percentage
|Item||To Skin/On Fillets||To Skin/Off Fillets||Notes|
|Whole Head/On gutted||na||40%||If you have yield info on this fish please comment below.|
Range & Habitat
Swai fish are a fresh water fish found in the Mekong River basin of Southeast Asia as well as the Chao Phraya river system. They have also been introduced into other river basins in the region.
Swai Fish Sustainability Info
|Name||Alternate Names||Catch Method||Where|
|Swai||Tra, Striped Pangasius, Basa, Striped Catfish||Farmed||Vietnam|
|Disclaimer: The sustainability info above is accurate to the best of our knowledge. However, each program randomly updates their information without our knowledge. We therefore recommend that you verify the current accuracy of this information.|
= Best Choice/Recommended = Good Alternative = Avoid/Not Recommended
In the United States, Channel Catfish (the predominant catfish cultivated in the US) is considered the Best Choice. Although Swai is considered a sustainable resource, there are some ecological concerns about the way it is managed.
based upon a 6 oz (171 grams) raw edible serving
Catfish Wars and Swai Safety
During the on going "catfish wars" between US catfish farmers and Vietnamese farmers there has been a lot of accusations thrown around about polluted, poisonous Basa and Swai Fish. But an independent study was done by Doug Marshall, a professor of food science and technology at Mississippi State, and graduate student Amit Pal. He looked at three questions: Did one have more bacteria than the other? How about nutrition? What about taste?
Is Swai safe to eat? Read more
Swai Fish Recipes
Because swai has such a delicate taste it is very versatile in the kitchen and lends itself well to many preparations and sauces. Any recipe for cod or halibut should work well with this fish. If you are a die hard catfish lover, then you may be disappointed with swai because its flavor is not as robust as our native Channel Catfish.
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David Buchanan is a professional chef and author of Chefs-Resources.com, a site geared towards providing chefs and culinarians useful info to help in their kitchens.
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