What is Swai Fish?
Swai is a catfish from Vietnam which has a delicate texture and a milder taste. Although it is often confused with the Basa, the two are not the same. Like Tilapia, Swai fish is a whole lot cheaper than Basa and even though it may have a more grainy and coarse texture as opposed to Basa, it can work as its substitute. Pangasius, River Catfish, shark catfish, Tra and iridescent shark can be used interchangeably because these are all the different market names for Swai. The scientific name for Swai fish is Pangasius Hypophthalamus.
The Swai fish species is a sustainable aquaculture species, which means these easy to commercially farm. Swai is mostly farmed in Southeast Asia and since these do not take as much time as Basa to grow therefore they are shipped in huge quantities for exports. The fish originally hails from Southeast Asia, it is native to Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. People who do not like freshwater fishes normally often take a liking to this fish. Although frozen Swai is available all year long, the fresh water fish can be found only in the Chao Phraya river system and the Mekong River Basin of Southeast Asia.
These farm-raised fishes are naturally low in fat and they are an excellent source of protein. What’s more, Swai can adjust to your cooking technique in the kitchen whether you are pan frying, broiling or baking it. AMJE has seen both novice seafood chefs as well as experts are fans of the Swai.
Facts About Swai Fish
1. A 100 gram raw edible portion of Swai contains about 90 calories, 4 grams of fat, 45mg Cholesterol, 13 grams of Protein and 50mg Sodium.
2. Only about 40% of the fish can be cut off to form fillets
3. Swai fish is one of the most versatile fishes because it can be cooked in so many different ways, i.e. by steaming, sautéing, deep frying, broiling and baking. This fish, however, is not suitable for poaching, smoking and for making sushi.
4. Swai fishes have fins which are either black or dark grey in colour. Juveniles come with two black stripes, one along the lateral line and the other just below it. They also have shiny and iridescent skin, which is why they are also called Iridescent shark.
5. Adult Swai fishes can reach a maximum length of 130 cm or 4 feet and a weight of 44 kgs or 97 pounds.
6. Swai is an extremely healthy choice because it is a great source of proteins. Protein is the primary macronutrient in case of the Swai fish. A fillet of Swai contains about fifteen grams of protein, which is about one-third of the daily protein requirement.
7. Swai is an oily fish, but only in terms of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy oils that offer a sea of health benefits like reducing blood pressure, preventing cardiac deaths, ailing rheumatoid arthritis, improving brain functions, promoting healthy skin and so on.
8. Swai also contains other healthy fats which keeps one’s blood free flowing and protects against major diseases related to the heart like a heart attack, stroke and so on.
9. Even though the fillets of Swai are thinner than that of Basa, it is the closest substitute of the latter when it is cooked because the two are extremely similar in taste. Moreover, it is also a much cheaper alternative to Halibut, Haddock, Cod, etc.
10. The taste of Swai fish goes extremely well with white sauces; therefore it can be used extensively in case of pasta dishes or it can be a standalone dish.
Safety Precautions and Side Effects of Swai Fish
The quality of Swai fish depends upon the feed and water conditions. One should be cautious about packaged Swai fishes that are touted as ‘specials’ because these may be of inferior quality, which is quite ironical considering its name! Always buy Swai fillets from a trusted vendor.
Never purchase Swai fish if you detect an excessive use of STP on the packaging because STP abuse will cause the fish to lose a lot of moisture after thawing, thereby becoming an inferior food product. Check out cobia fish.
A word of caution about packaged Swai fillets is that sometimes they would be soaked in Sodium Tripolyphosphate in order to increase yields but the chemical would not be stated in the labels.