Sunday, January 27, 2008

What is Basa [Fish]

Basa Fish by JaguarJulie
What is Basa [Fish]?  Do YOU Know? Well, it's a rather interesting name for a fish, don't you think? Literally, a wonderful-tasting catfish; Technically, Pangasius bocourti, native to the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam!

Basa is a type of catfish that doesn't really taste like the catfish we grew up with in the United States. Basa is a fish that my family LOVES and really can't get enough of ... One day about 6 or so years ago, I bought my first fillets of Basa from the seafood counter at my local Publix supermarket. "Hmmm, I'll try 2 of those Basa please. I've never heard of Basa before, so I'll give it a try!"

I believe the price was very right back then, maybe as low as $3.99 a pound, but more likely $4.99 a pound. We like salmon, mahi mahi and orange roughy, but often those fish are pricier at up to $8.99 a pound; so we buy Basa.

Well, this is the second year that for many weeks, if not a couple of months, Basa has NOT been available for purchase. Last year, when I inquired I was told something about U.S. customs? This year, it was unavailable for a longer period of time and the reason was the FDA? This prompted me to investigate what is up with the Basa fish that is our family's favorite fish.

You see, we used to eat Basa at least twice a week! What I learned is that this fish has been the subject of some controversy going back several years. There's been a lawsuit, talks of dumping with lower than market prices, and even mislabelling of product! There's been some scuttle-butt that not all Basa was indeed Basa, but possibly Tra [P. hypophthalmus] or China Sole.

So ... I did a bit of digging to turn up some interesting information on Basa Fish! I've documented it in my article, What is Basa - Basa Fish Recipes, Info and Tips. By the way, you might want to read up on Swai Fish which has become the alternative when you can't find basa!

1 comment:

Michael said...

You are not the only one who enjoys the basa. I raise them here on my fish farm in Puerto Rico. I can provide you with more info if you like regarding this fish. Probably what you have tried and enjoyed is Basa catfish (Pangasius hypophthalmus), less than 5% of what is marketed is actually Basa Pangasius bocourti. There is no problem the product is excellent. I wish that others in the tropics of the western hemisphere raise them too. No problem the US gov (and the US catfish farmers) only restrict imports of the Vietnamese fish to maintain high prices.

Regards,

Caribe Fish