Don’t be surprised if the Swai fish is not on your radar yet. This freshwater fish is not common, but it is very versatile with a mild taste and is inexpensive. The Swai is found in Southeast Asia and is a relative of the North American catfish. Like his cousin, swai fishes can grow extremely huge to around 4 feet and almost 100 pounds. Vietnam produces and ships most of the swai fish found in the United States. They appear on a plate, smoothies, fried, grilled, curried, and a host of other savory dishes.
Notorious for its origins and overall content with American consumers, swai fish has a long and divided history and reputation before it reached its potential today as a widespread fish option in the United States.
Learning About Swai Fish
Swai fish is alternatively known as tra, striped pangasius, iridescent shark, or Vietnamese catfish, which is an imported freshwater fish native from Vietnam with a mild taste and delicate, flaky meat ideal for partnering with several kinds of dressings and sauces. Imported as filleted or frozen in groceries and markets globally, swai fish has slowly risen as an inexpensive substitute for higher-grade fishes such as haddock and grouper not only for regular consumers but also among restaurants and food establishments nationwide.
These fishes can be distinguished from other seafood and aquatic animals for their dark scales are closely reminiscent of tilapia in color and appearance. The body of a swai is also iridescent and commonly has to identify two striped lines across. What separates the swai from catfishes in the absence of the large bottom-feeder mouth or whiskers that regular catfishes usually possess. Aside from Vietnam, it can also be outsourced from the Southeast Asian countries of Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand.
Ways to Cook Swai Fish
Swai fish is more like the southern catfish. You can use it in any recipe that calls for this ingredient in any dish that calls for a flaky, slightly greasy steak. Swai fish does not have a strong aroma and can easily absorb spices or marinades.
Swai can be interpreted into several dishes and cooking styles, regardless if it is broiled, fried, grilled, steamed, baked, battered, or even used as curry meat. When eaten raw, swai is refined, tender, and almost light beige visually. When cooked, swai fish turns flakey and moist, appealing to the palate. People identify with its unique taste far from the similarity of other fishes and its sweet, buttery flavor. Other individuals compare its intricacy to the better-known salmon and have utilized swai as a less costly substitute.
One thing commendable for the consistency of swai is when put into an open flame, it doesn’t fall apart, making it a great compliment with different sauces and marinades.
It is recommended to keep swai frozen until ready. For cooking, it is best to prepare the fish after defrosting within 24 hours and storing it in a sealed container for around 2-4 days. If the fillet has a pungent and unpleasant fishy smell, it is best to throw it away, as this is a fish that is raised in less than ideal conditions.
Comparing Swai Fish to Tilapia
Both swai fish and tilapia are freshwater fish that cost less than much other fish, mainly because they are easy to raise. Swai fish hails from Southeast Asia. It is shipped frozen to the United States and other countries, while tilapia is caught and raised around the world. When cooked, both fish are white and become tender and flaky, making them great options for fried fish dishes. Tilapia tends to be fatter than Swai and may have darker spots on the meat. When buying or shopping in North America, you can find fresh tilapia, but swai fish is always frozen. There is not much difference in taste or texture, especially when the sauce is the star of the dish.
This fish is generally recommended as it provides lean protein plus heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Swai fish’s protein content is likely to be compared to other fish, but it offers a few amounts of omega-3 fat. A 113 gram serving of raw Swai contains protein with 15 grams, 70 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 45 grams of cholesterol, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 350 mg of sodium.
For example, the same serving of salmon includes 24 grams of protein and 1,200-2,400 mg of omega-3 fat. The sodium content in Swai fish may be higher or lower than stated above, depending on the amount of sodium tripolyphosphate, a moisture retention additive, used during processing.
Swai fish is a great source of selenium and a reliable source of niacin and vitamin B12. However, the amounts can vary depending on how the fish is fed. Swai fish does not have an unusually healthy diet. They are usually fed rice bran, soybeans, canola, and fish by-products. Soy and rapeseed products are often modified, which is a controversial practice.
Disclaimer When Consuming Swai Fish
On the flip side, scientists and food experts have remarked on the toxic implications of the vitality of the waters of its farms and habitat as a farmed fish. Some batches of swai are not far from the possibility of having additives or consisting of certain chemicals present in its water, branding it as unsafe to eat if not thoroughly heated or cooked. Factory-farmed fish in Vietnam has been subject to controversy as contaminated with sludge and wastewater from bacteria, diseases, antibiotic residues, parasites, and Sporozoa infections.
Multiple sources report having found high levels of mercury among the chemicals in swai. This can be attributed to the farming practices for these fishes, fed with leftover foods or substandard fish food as swais generally eat what is available to them.
Another issue is the usage of antibiotics among swai fishes to develop resistance to diseases. When eaten by humans, this puts them in danger as it makes consumers prone to harming their immune system. Fortunately, this practice is already absent in the United States; however, it continues to exist in Vietnam.
Swai fish has balanced nutritional value and gives a decent amount of protein but very little omega-3 fat. In addition, its contributions to vitamins and minerals are selenium, niacin, and vitamin B12. It is sometimes incorrectly labeled and sold as higher-quality fish. If you do consume it, choose a brand with an organic certificate. In general, it is better to eat different types of fish.