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Swai, have you tried it and is it a reasonable option?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Are Swai fillets worth trying or using in commercial applications?

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
post #2 of 6
No swai but plenty of basa. Here in SoCal, basa is used by a lot of Mexican restaurants as a snapper (aka huachinango) substitute. Probably true up in your neck of the woods too. If you want to taste, look for mariscos places where English doesn't function as the primary language and ask about fish served as "filetes." You seem like a guy who likes mojo de ajo and knows his way around Veracruzana (creole sauce) as well. I like those, love ala diabla, love sarandeado even more, and... well, I just like fish, okay? Where were we?

Oh yes. If they say "snapper" or "huachinango" and it's not flaky like snapper but much tighter grained, and/or it's too large without being as thick as a big snapper would be, it's almost certainly basa. If that sounds like I'm accusing mariscos places which call basa huachinango I'm not.

You've got to be wondering why I think it's basa instead of swai, since theycall it huachinango or snapper. Good question. The tight texture and sweet taste are distinctive.

From a French perspective, you could do anything which you'd do with a fillet of any type of sole or filleted trout. It grills very well, but would is a little on the flat side for "fish and chips" without substantial fabricating -- you'd have to do some sort of adult play on "fish fingers" -- and also isn't as firm as the more traditional halibut, haddock, or cod. I would not hesitate for a second to cook it "schnitzel" style and garnish with anchovy strips and lemon.

If you haven't figured it out yet, I like basa.

The US commercial fish industry is beaucoup unhappy about Vietnamese catfish -- which definitely includes basa, and probably swai as well. They (the US, not the fish) talk about bad ecological practices, bad sanitation and so on. But I've also heard a vigorous defense from the importers. I don't know the truth. It seems like the best you can do is know your vendors, and don't serve anything new to the public until you've tried poisoning the help.

BDL
Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/25/11 at 4:37pm
post #3 of 6

I've worked for a couple casino buffet's now.... So we're always looking for ways to reduce our costs per cover, and enhancing the selection of food we offer... With that said - I've used it for a while now. Ethically I hate using it, but once again, I love reducing my food costs.  I've done everything from lightly dredge it in seasoned flour, and fry it off, to stuffing it with a seafood stuffing.

 

So the long and short of it for me, if cost is an issue, I'm a fan.  It works well for the type of establishment I work in...

post #4 of 6

Ok, so my life passion is fish. I work @ a large fresh fish place with a annual rev. of about $6 mil. I've done almost every fish out there at some point. I will tell you that IMHO Swai is a trash fish. Yes the cost is low, but so is the quality. The company who is responsible for farming the majority of them is actually the same that was doing barramundi. Now, when they were doing barramundi in the U.S. (factory was actually in MA) they were doing AMAZING things with aqua-culture. Recreating currents to ensure the fish swam naturally to create proper density of flesh etc etc. 

 

Well... they packed up.. and went to S.E. Asia

 

Now I'll tell you I buy tuna from all over the world.. Japan, South Africa, both of the Americas... but fish out of S.E. asia is on my no no list. Mostly because they dont care for their products well. But anyway, I've seen the "new" farms that they are using and I'll simply say it's sub-par. Sanitation is by far one of their biggest issues. Mainly because they are over-loading water with fish, which is creating a toxic atmosphere.

AND its all frozen!! 

 

There are many MANY viable options for cost conscious chefs out there and it really is based upon the seasonality of the species. Wild Catfish is killer right now.. 

 

Obviously a lot of people are using Swai and Basa.. and I'm not downing anyone for it.. but if you want to focus on the quality of product I feel you will be disappointed in this. 

 

Hope that helps.. 

post #5 of 6

My answer is no. And if I may qualify that, I am a big fish lover, and will, yes, order fish specials on a restaurant menu. But since I gave Swai a try at home, I must say I would never order it, nor would I ever choose to eat it ever again. This is a trash fish. Someone is trying to find the next MIRACLE fish, but this isn't it. I hated the oddly sweet taste of the meat, (like something putrefying) and the nasty aftertaste sat on my tongue for hours. On top of this, my stomach found it disagreeable as well. I had bought a quantity of deep frozen Swai fllets and threw them all in the garbage. Garbage in, garbage out. Swai? Please, spare yourselves. You will lose diners. Really. They will never come back.

post #6 of 6

I love it when people's first post is always a very strong statement with no facts and no supporting information.

You would almost think that someone created the account to simply back up a position.

 

http://www.chefs-resources.com/Is-Vietnamese-Swai-and-Basa-Safe

 

I have tried Basa, Swai and US Catfish... many other fish also, nothing like you described.

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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