Basa, a cheap alternative to white fish

One thing I’ve never really known how to cook well is fish.  When ever I walk into large grocery stores and head to the seafood section, I’m always intrigued by the wide variety of different fish I know nothing about. So as one of my New Year’s resolutions, I’ve challenged myself to cook two new types of fish per month. Although I can do Salmon up fairly well and really love the taste of it, I think it’d be a shame not to try other types of fish especially considering how expensive Salmon is here. One great thing about seafood is that it is a high source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, fish is high in protein and low in saturated fat even if it’s Omega 3 levels aren’t that high.  These acids have been linked to many health benefits such as decrease in the Cardiovascular disease, increased immune system performance, and for athletes, decrease in inflammation.

I found this great table below from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=84, which is a great source of nutrition information.

World’s Healthiest Foods rich in
omega 3 fatty acids
FoodCals%Daily Value
Flax seeds112199.5%
Walnuts16494.5%
Sardines19786.6%
Salmon15852.5%
Soybeans29842.9%
Halibut15925.8%
Scallops12717%
Shrimp11215.4%
Tofu8615%
Tuna15813.7%

The nutritional data base NUTTAB 2006 developed by FSANZ provides the following analysis for Omega 3 fatty acids of various types of fish;

  • Smoked cod steamed 302mg per 100grams.
  • fish finger 161mg,
  • Australian tinned salmon in brine then drained 2456mg,
  • sardines in oil drained 2511,
  • Basa fillet steamed just 69mg.
Anyways, enough about Omega-3’s. To make my cooking challenge easier, and to fuel my cookbook purchasing addiction I’ve grabbed this great book:
My awesome new cookbook!

It’s a massive hard cover book that references many different types of seafood and goes through everything from cleaning them to cooking them. I am quite impressed with it although it arrived after my first seafood purchases and I have yet to try it out.

On my latest trip to Superstore, I found an interesting looking fish fillet known as “Basa Fish”. Basa is it’s North American and Australian name, but it also goes by Vietnamese Catfish, Mekong Catfish, Pacific Dory, Bocourti, and River Cobbler (UK). This fish is imported from the US and is also farmed off the Mekong River in Vietnam. There is a great deal of controversy surrounding this fish. Because it is a fairly cheap fish to produce, many restaurants around the world have taken to using this as a substitute for Cod and other more expensive white fish in breaded meals such as fish and chips. While this isn’t a huge deal, fish and chip shops are often doing this while advertising a higher quality fish is still being used. There has also been great concern over the quality of the Vietnamese imported Basa. This appears to be a product of the US fish farmers who are having difficulty competing with the lower prices the Vietnamese exporters are offering.

Basa Nutritional Information

based upon a 6 oz (171 grams) raw edible serving

* Calories/Calories from fat 154
* Protein grams 22
* Fat grams 6.9
* Saturated fat grams 2.6
* Sodium milligrams 86
* Cholesterol milligrams 77
* Omega-3 grams na

Anyway, I’ve found a super simple recipe online for Breaded Basa Fillets which is shown below. Two fillets cost under $4 and were fairly large. Bread crumbs can be found in the bakery section of your local supermarket and cost about $3 for 500g and keep in the pantry for about a year. The fish has a pretty mild taste and is reliant on its breading and sauces for taste. I adapted the sauce from the recipe I linked at the bottom and thought that it tasted good although I think I’m biased towards my own cooking. Any sauce for white style fish will work. This recipe can be prepared in about 5 minutes and cooked in about 10.

Super Easy Basa Breaded Fillets

Ingredients:

2 Basa Fillets

1 Egg

~1 Cup of Breadcrumbs

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sauce:

1 tsp honey mustard

1 tbsp hot sauce

1 tbsp ketchup

2 tsp paprika

1/4 cup mayonaise

1. Crack and whisk egg in bowl. Put bread crumbs in  another bowl. Place each fillet in bowl, coating in egg, then pat each side in breadcrumbs, creating a breaded layer. Repeat twice for each side of the fillet.

2. Preheat a frying pan with Olive oil. I found medium heat worked best(~5 or 6  out of 10). Place fillets in pan, cooking each side for ~5 minutes.

3. Mix sauce ingredients and serve as a ketchup style side to the fish.

Because this is a fish and chips style meal, I also cooked up some hash browns to substitute as my “chips”. The end result of the fish should look something like this:

Another interesting recipe I found after I had already cooked my fillets and was doing some research on the fish is this guy, which would be interesting to try if I ever come back to Basa which I probably will: http://www.healthy-quick-meals.com/basa-fish-recipes.html

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