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Basa Fish – Not Your Ordinary Catfish

26 May

If you’ve never heard of basa fish, listen up; it is a great fish for pan frying and is becoming increasingly popular.  My bottomless supply from Roland Seafood, the Mayport seafood company owned by my sister Priscilla and her husband Brad Roland, has kept me in fried fish.  

Priscilla, Ashley & Brad Roland fishing at the Jax Beach pier

I recently asked a girlfriend over for dinner and she answered with “What are you cooking?” 

 “Are you only coming if you like what I’m cooking or do your really want to know if I’m frying fish?” I answered. 

“Please fry me some fish,” was the pleading little answer I got back.

I pan  fry my basa to a golden brown in olive oil after first dipping it in egg, then dredging in Italian bread crumbs. My sister likes planko, and others like cornmeal. All work fine. Lime or lemon juice on top finishes it off nicely.

Truth be known, I had been eating it for over a year without even knowing what kind of fish it was. (That happens when you go to pick up seafood goody bags and don’t find out what’s in it until you get home. ) Then everyone kept asking what kind of fish it was. So I figured I best find out what kind of fish it was.

Basa has an interesting background. It’s a catfish from the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam, but it doesn’t taste like the channel catfish we’re used to in the South. It has a milder flavor and more delicate texture.  In an experiment done at the University of Mississippi, the taste of  basa was preferred 3-1 to domestic catfish.

Basa fish t is also sometimes labeled as bocourti. Basa feed off of plants whereas channel catfish are bottom dwellers and eat anything.  Basa is raised in cages but also  privy to an enormous amount of moving water unlike our farmed catfish. 

Basa sells at Publix frozen in a bag for $15.99 for 2 lbs (4 filets). Roland Seafood, however, sells basa for $3.50 lb., less than half the cost of basa at Publix.  Now that’s a good price.  

Roland Seafood supplies many of Jacksonville’s Asian restaurants with their seafood, so that’s one of the reasons they stock basa.  They are also a great source for shrimp, oysters, crab and numerous other fish all at equally low prices.

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