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Swai Fish: The Cheaper and Healthier Fish Option

Swai Fish belongs to the same genus as the catfish, Pangasius. However, it has a distinct appearance and lacks the catfish’s huge bottom-feeder mouth and whiskers. Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia have the maximum freshwater fish production.

You can catch swai in the rivers of the Mekong Delta’s many regions. Swai, like its relative, can grow quite large, around 4 feet tall and weighing close to 45kgs. The majority of swai available in the United States is produced in Vietnam and sent frozen to the United States. 

Swai is an inexpensive fish. It costs a third to a quarter of the price of other kinds of fish. It is similar to light, white fish like flounder, grouper and sole. However, because of the similarities, there have been a lot of fish fraud instances with this fish. As a result of the misidentification, cooks have begun to treat it as a higher-quality fish. The easiest method to ensure that it is indeed swai on your plate is to get it from a reputable fishmonger or supermarket. 

Swai fish is a Southeast Asian delicacy with a gentle, sweet flavour and luscious flesh. Its soft and flaky texture makes it a favourite ingredient in various delectable meals. Compared to other fishes, Swai fish is inexpensive, thus making it a popular option in recent times.

The HealthifyMe Note

Swai fish is an affordable and delicious alternative to other fishes. While it may not be as nutritious as some other fishes, it has several health benefits. It has a mild flavour which you can accentuate with sauces. You can fry it battered, broil it, put it into a curry, and use it in other delectable recipes.

Nutrition Value of Swai Fish

Fish fillet is the meat of a fish that has been sliced or cut away from the bone. As per USDA, around 100 grams of Swai fillet serving contains:

Calories: 88 kcalProtein: 18.58 gFat: 1.77 gCholesterol: 22 gCarbohydrate: 0 gSugar: 0 gFibre: 0 g

Vitamins and Minerals

Sodium: 27 mgFatty acids: 0.44 mg

Health Benefits of Swai fish

Heart Friendly

According to research, swai fish has 26 mg omega-3 fatty acids or n-3 per 100 g of fish fillet. People who plan to consume swai fish daily reap many health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids can help lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Studies have proven that omega-3 reduces cardiovascular risk factors, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. In addition, it prevents blood clotting, thus decreasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. 

Scientific evidence suggests that it decreases arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) that can lead to sudden death. Moreover, studies have found that n-3 acids reduce the risk of premature death from cardiac causes. Omega-3 is also good for improving athletic performance. It reduces oxidative stress caused by physical stress during training and improves muscular performance and immune function.

Good Source of Protein

Like any other form of fish, swai fish is a good protein source. Those on a high-protein diet definitely should include swai fish in their diet. Because swai fish is so full of nutrients, those who eat it usually acquire about a third of their required daily intake in just one serving. 

Protein-rich foods increase satiety and decrease hunger. As a result, swai fish is fantastic for getting a significant quantity of protein into the body and an excellent way to reduce weight healthily. A swai fillet has about 15 grammes of protein, roughly 30% of it being your daily requirement. Furthermore, protein also acts as a glucose replacer in the body. If you are not getting enough calories, your body will start breaking the protein compounds to generate energy. Hence, it is vital to replenish one’s protein stores every time.

As per studies, swai fish is a good source of EPA and DHA, which aids with vision and cognitive function. EPA and DHA help prevent inflammatory diseases such as dry eye disease and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Omega-3 fatty acids help decrease inflammation and protect the eyes. DHA is also necessary for proper brain function, and its supplementation can help improve brain function and cognition. 

Low in Carbs

Since swai fish is low in carbs, you can include it in your weight loss regime. There have been several studies linking low-carb diets to a longer lifespan. Low carb diet is also suitable for diabetes patients. According to research, reduction of carbohydrate intake can improve glycemic control.

The HealthifyMe Note

You can include swai fish in your daily diet to reap the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. It is excellent for cardiovascular health, promotes cognitive function, improves vision and is also suitable for diabetic patients. It is a perfect addition to your plate if you are on a weight loss journey.

Storage and Preparation of Swai fish

One should handle any fish with care. According to the FDA, fish can be kept in the refrigerator for two days before eating. Then, keep it frozen until it is ready to use and cook within 24 hours of defrosting. The fish will stay fresh in a sealed container for 3 to 4 days after being prepared. If the fillet has a distinct, fishy odour, discard it since fish farmers might have farmed it under less than ideal conditions.

Swai’s mildness allows it to quickly absorb the flavour of any sauce, seasoning or other ingredients. It can be prepared similarly to catfish, tilapia, or cod because it is a hard-fleshed white fish. Swai, like different varieties of fish, bakes well at medium-to-high temperatures. 

Ways to Include Swai Fish in Your Daily Diet

Swai fish is a freshwater fish. However, it is recommended not to eat swai fish uncooked or undercooked. To kill potentially hazardous germs like Vibrio, cook the fish to a temperature of 145°F (62.8°C). One can include swai fish in a meal in the following ways:

Grilled fishBaked fishFried with batterSteamed fish filletsFish with various sauces

Recipes to Try with Swai Fish 

Lemon and Butter Swai Fish

Time: 20 minutes

Servings: 2

1 Cup: 300 ml

Ingredients:

Swai fish: 1Salt: 1 tspGround black pepper: 1 tspVegetable oil: ½ tbspUnsalted butter melted: 2 tbspLemon juice: 1 tbspParsley chopped: 1 tspWhite wine (optional): ½ cup

Recipe

Using cold water, rinse the swai fish. Cut the fish into fillets, and using paper towels, pat dry. Season both sides of the fish with salt and ground black pepper.Using medium-high heat, heat a skillet. Add the vegetable oil to the pan. Pan-fry the fillets for around 1-2 minutes on each side. Gently flip the fish and pan-fry the other side till both sides are light brown, and the edges are slightly crunchy. Place on a plate and serve hot.Heat the melted butter in a saucepan, and add the white wine and lemon juice. After that, season with a pinch of salt to taste. Turn off the heat as soon as the sauce begins to bubble. Drizzle the sauce over the fish and serve it right away, garnished with parsley.

Seasoned Swai Fish Fillets

Time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

1 Cup: 300 ml

Ingredients:

Swai fish fillets: 4Mayonnaise: ¼ cupMustard: 1 tbspKetchup: 1 tspPaprika: ¼ tspHot pepper sauce: ¼ tspOlive oil: 1 ½ tspGarlic, minced: 1Lemon, sliced: 1Bread crumbs: 1 cupSalt and pepper: According to taste

Recipe

Combine the mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, paprika, and spicy pepper sauce in a mixing bowl.Preheat the oven to 375 F.Brush one tablespoon of olive oil on the swai fish fillets and roll it in bread crumbs to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Lightly spray the remaining olive oil on the coated fish using a kitchen sprayer. In a baking dish, arrange the fish and top with lemon slices and garlic.Bake for 15 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork and the coating is gently browned. Toss with the mayonnaise sauce and serve.

Swai Fish Tacos

Time: 30 minutes

Serving: 4

1 cup: 300 ml

Ingredients

Swai fish fillets, cut into cubes: 4Olive oil: 2 tbspRed bell pepper, sliced into thin strips: 1Jalapeno pepper, sliced into thin strips: 1Garlic, minced: 2Chili powder: 2 tbspCumin: ½ tbspGround black pepper: 2 pinchesTortillas warmed: 4Cheese, shredded: 1 cup

Recipe

In a saute pan, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, jalapeño, red bell pepper, and garlic and stir for 4 minutes or until it is slightly soft. Keep it aside.In the same pan, heat the remaining oil. Add swai and cook for about two minutes. Add chilli powder, salt, pepper and cumin and heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until the swai is coated. Toss the vegetables back into the pan.To make the tacos, divide the swai and vegetables among the tortillas. On top, sprinkle some shredded cheese.Serve hot.

Oven-Baked Swai

Time: 45 minutes

Serving: 2

1 Cup: 300 g/ 300 ml

Ingredients

Swai fish fillets: 2Olive oil: 1 tbspOnion, chopped: 1Garlic, minced: 1Tomatoes, diced: 1Salt and pepper: To taste

Recipe:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees C).Season swai fish with black pepper and salt in a glass dish.In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Sauté and toss the onion until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until it is aromatic. Add in tomatoes and constantly stir until the tomatoes are cooked thoroughly for about 5 minutes. Place the tomato mixture on top of the fish.Cook for 20 minutes in a preheated oven until the fish flakes readily with a fork. Serve hot.

Crispy Roasted Garlic Swai

Time: 25 minutes

Serving: 4

1 Cup: 300 g/ 300 ml

Ingredients

Swai fish fillets: 4Flour: 1 cupEggs, beaten: 2Garlic, minced: 2Bread crumbs: 1 ½ cupDried basil: 1 tspOil: ¼ cup

Recipe

Wash the fish fillets gently and blot them dry with a paper towel.On a dinner plate, evenly spread flour. In a shallow pie pan, beat the eggs.On a separate dinner plate, spread bread crumbs. Then, with a fork, combine basil and garlic with bread crumbs.Coat each fish fillet evenly and thoroughly with flour, eggs, and bread crumbs (in this particular order). Over medium heat, heat a large skillet. Add the oil and heat it until it is hot but not smoking.Sear the fish fillets in the pan two at a time for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until a crisp golden-brown crust forms. Remove from the pan and set aside to keep heated.Using a paper towel and tongs, carefully scrape crumbs off the pan. Rep with the remaining oil and two fish fillets.Serve with spaghetti or rice right away.

The HealthifyMe Note

Season swai with herbs and spices like paprika, pepper, parsley, or garlic, then drizzle with olive oil for a light, healthy meal. Bake for 10–15 minutes at 375°F, or until fish flakes readily with a fork.

Possible Side Effects of Swai Fish

Heavy Use of Antibiotics

When swai and other fish get raised in overcrowded fish farms, the risk of contagious diseases in the fish also increases. 

A study found Vibrio bacteria in 70–80 per cent of swai samples sent to Poland, Germany, and Ukraine, making it unsafe for consumption. Vibrio bacteria is a germ that causes shellfish food poisoning in humans. Fish farmers often give swai antibiotics and other medications to treat bacterial illnesses. However, antibiotic residues remain in the fish, and the medicines find their way into surrounding waterways. A study on imported seafood found swai and other Asian seafood to have the highest rates of drug residues. 

Allergies

If you can eat other white fish without difficulty, you are unlikely to have an unfavourable reaction to swai. Likewise, an allergy to shellfish does not necessarily mean you’ll be allergic to swai. However, many people with a fish allergy develop it in adulthood. In addition, some people have allergies to specific types of fish. Swai allergies, like other food allergies, can cause the following symptoms:

Itchiness RashesNauseaVomitingHeadaches

The HealthifyMe Note

Even if you carefully inspect the fish and the antibiotic residues are within legal limits, repeated use of the drugs can lead to bacterial resistance to the drugs. You can treat human infections with some of the same drugs. However, suppose you use too much, and the bacteria develop resistance. Patients may have to stop eating the variety without the possibility of viable therapies.

Conclusion

Swai fish have some drawbacks like the high quantity of antibiotics and poor farming conditions. However, they do have health benefits. You can use swai fish to complement multiple dishes such as rice and pasta and also eat them as a main dish with minimal dressing. While swai fish usually don’t cause any harm, you should not consume it if you didn’t buy it from a reputable fishmonger. People with fish allergies should avoid swai fish because it may cause reactions such as headaches, nausea, rashes, vomiting and more. Swai fish might not be as healthy as other fish, but it is still relatively healthy. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is swai fish better than tilapia?

A. Swai and tilapia are freshwater fish that are less expensive than other varieties of fish, owing to their ease of farming. Tilapia is rich in vitamins and minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and selenium. Its nutrient-rich profile has several health benefits, including regulating blood pressure and cholesterol, promoting healthy bones, improved vision and brain health, etc. However, like swai fish, several reports have raised concern over its farming practices. Nevertheless, swai fish and tilapia are beneficial, and you can incorporate them into your diet.

Q. Is swai a clean fish?

A. People often refer to swai as “unclean”, which presents a few health issues due to its variable quality. Also, this is due to an increase in the use of antibiotics in the fish farming industry. These fish are raised in unsanitary conditions and are susceptible to diseases. 

The Escherichia coli bacteria in contaminated Swai can cause diseases in humans.  These diseases include gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections, food poisoning, chorioamnionitis (infection of the foetal membranes), and sepsis. They are common due to contaminated water fish consumption. Furthermore, in the US market, the swai is sometimes mislabeled and sold as more expensive fish such as sole, catfish, grouper, and flounder. These problems, combined with a constant inability to meet FDA health regulations, may explain why people refer to swai fish as “unclean” or “unhygienic.”

Q. Is swai fish high in mercury?

A. Swai fish has a low mercury content. However, you can see increased mercury levels in farmed swai fish. Also, This is because farmers raise them in unclean water, frequently saturated with pesticides and located near wastelands. It could be harmful to both children and adults. As a result, health professionals recommend that you should purchase the fish from a supermarket.

Q. Is swai healthy to eat?

A. The mild and sweet flavour of swai fish is well-known. Since it is high in omega-3 fatty acids, including this fish in one’s diet can help to improve cardiovascular health. Swai fish can help lower the chance of mortality from heart disease. Also, swai fish is high in DHA and can help with cognitive function. Swai fish contains EPA and DHA, which may also help with vision. However, there is a considerable risk of contamination by microbes, heavy metals, and chemicals. As a result, one should eat it in moderation and only buy high-quality swai fish.

Q. Is swai fish safe to eat?

A. Swai fish has health benefits and contains nutrients that support heart function. However, it is essential to purchase the fish from a trusted place. Due to the increased demand, fish farmers raise the fish in unfavourable conditions such as wastelands and dirty water. It leads to the contamination of fish, which can further cause health issues. Thus, it is safe to include fish in one’s daily diet. However, we recommend practising moderation and quality check before consumption.

Q. Is swai fish the same as basa?

A. Swai fish is a mild-flavoured white fish with a flaky texture. It’s a catfish-like freshwater fish that’s native to Vietnamese rivers. It is often mistakenly called basa fish and iridescent shark. However, it’s neither basa nor a shark. Basa is a delicious fish with a delicate texture and white meat. The Mekong river’s fast flow imparts a clean, fresh flavour to the fish’s meal. Unfortunately, most of what is marketed as basa today is not basa. Both fish are distinct, yet people often mislabel them, confusing unsuspecting customers.

Q. What is the nutritional value of swai fish?

A. Swai fish is an excellent choice to incorporate into your healthy diet. The fatty acid of swai fish fillets is similar to that of other freshwater fish. Linoleic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are all present in swai fish. However, compared to other fish, the quantities of good fatty acids are on the lower end of the range. Swai fish is also low in calories and cholesterol, making it a great low-fat food option.

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