What is Swai? I considered this one day when I was shopping in a grocery store in the US. I could tell that it is fish. Even better, it was inexpensive! Still, I didn’t buy any. I came home and did some research online. Hmmm, it’s some type of catfish. It is called Basa here in Mexico.
Well, one day I bought a couple of fillets to try. I made fish tacos with it. The flavor was good but fairly disguised. I like fish a lot, but my preferences lean toward the large predatory sea going varieties like Tunas or Dorado. Swai is neither. It is more like cod or something, I guess. Or maybe like the catfish I caught in the Colorado River when I was a kid.
Well, a couple of weeks ago my Honey went al otro lado, or to the other side (of the US-Mexico border). When he returned he proudly told me that he had bought some Swai from Henry’s Market and was going to put it in the freezer. I was pretty sick with a kidney infection and the way I translated him was: “I bought some Swai and Henry’s has packed it in separate fillets in moisture proof paper and I am going to put it into the freezer.”
Friday, when I discovered the large package of Swai in the freezer, it was a large lump of about a kilo of fillets all frozen together.
Let me go back a bit here, I had planned to make Chippino and homemade cheese flat bread for dinner on Friday, so I had removed some fillets of a variety of our frozen fish and defrosted them. I had a fillet of Swordfish, one of Salmon and one of Yellowtail. Then I discovered the huge lump of Swai in the other freezer! What to do?
I decided that the best approach to the Swai was to poach it along with the other fish to make the stock for the Chippino, then perhaps to freeze the cooked Swai. Gently, I tried to separate any fillets that looked like I could peel them off the frozen lump to wrap and return to the freezer. I managed to remove two. So I poached the rest.
My Chippino for dinner for two turned to into Chippino for three days. I separated out three poached Swai fillets and refrigerated them to use later. Since fish is so perishable, I turned the separated fillets into fish cakes for Sunday night’s dinner. We still have a few left. Maybe I will freeze them.
I think it will be a while before I make a fish dinner again.
Here is a photo of the Chippino:
And the simple recipe:
One piece of each of a variety of fish. You can also add shrimp, clams or any other seafood later.
One small onion chopped and divided into two parts.
About a half cup of sliced fennel.
About three stalks of celery, sliced and divided into two parts.
About one green or red pepper, sliced and divided into two parts.
4-5 cloves of garlic, half smashed with a large knife and the other half sliced.
1 Bay leaf
Bring two or three quarts of water to a simmer (the amount depends on how much fish you are poaching). Add the sliced fennel, half of the onion, half of the celery, half of the green pepper, the smashed garlic cloves, and the Bay leaf. Keep the water at simmering, don’t boil. Slide the fish fillets into the water and cook just until they are opaque. Remove the fish.
Strain the stock through a colander. You can use a finer strained if you want clearer stock but I don’t care about how clear mine is.
Bring the stock back to a simmer and add the rest of the prepared vegetables. Add the following:
One large can of tomato sauce (I use a homemade sauce that I made with jalapenos in it).
One can of diced tomatoes.
Several peeled and sliced carrots.
Several peeled and diced potatoes.
Like I said before, the amounts are subjective to the amount of fish you use. Bring this soup to a simmer and cook until the carrots and potatoes are tender. Cut or break the fish into bite sized pieces and add to the soup. If you are using other shellfish you can add that too. Bring to a simmer and heat gently until the fish is heated through and any additional shellfish is done. I use only fish because I am allergic to Shrimp and allergic to spending the money for other shellfish.
I almost forgot! I also season the soup with a mix of Italian herbs. I suggest: Oregano, basil, thyme, marjoram, or any other herb that you like.
And a photo of the fish cakes:
Three fillets of poached Swai (mine was barely cooked)
Half of a small onion
One stalk of celery
Three tablespoons of mayonnaise.
One teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning
About half of a cup of Italian dried breadcrumbs
About a cup of Panko style bread crumbs
Finely chop the celery and onion in a food processor. Add the Swai fillets and chop into medium grind, (don’t make a paste!). Add the Old Bay Seasoning, mayonnaise, Italian breadcrumbs, and one egg. Make the mixture into patties about half of an inch thick and as big around as you like. If you have time chill the patties in the refrigerator for an hour or so. I didn’t, so it was a little less manageable.
Beat the second egg with a little water in a flat bowl. Pour the Panko into another bowl or paper plate. Dip each patty into the beaten egg, then into the Panko. You can fry the patties at this time, but I baked mine on a griddle until golden on each side and firm to the touch.
I served them on homemade Portuguese bolo rolls, with avocado slices, fresh tomato slices, mayonnaise, zucchini relish and sliced onions. Yum!!