What Is Swai Fish? And Why You Should Not Eat It…

Swai Fish

When it comes to healthy eating and good food, seafood, especially fish, is always included in these lists.

Fish are healthy, usually easy to find compared to other seafood options, come in a wide variety, and can be cooked using various recipes, saving you from becoming bored of the same taste.

Fish can be found in the ocean as well as in freshwater.

The choices are endless, from high-end fish to factory-farmed fish (although these are not recommended).

The fish we are going to discuss today is the Swai fish and everything you need to know about it.

Is It Safe to Eat Swai Fish?

Swai Fish Nutrition

What Is Swai Fish?

Swai fish, also more commonly called Basa, is a species of catfish.

This fish is part of the Pangasiidae family.

Swai is also known by other names such as iridescent shark, striped pangasius, Vietnamese catfish, Asian catfish, bocourti, river cobbler, cream dory, and Basa.

These striped catfish are typically found in basins of Mekong Lake and Chao Phraya in the mainlands of Asia, mainly the southeast region.

Swai is white fish belonging to freshwater. Basa fish is also a more affordable fish alternative to expensive fish like wild-caught salmon, cod, haddock, and other white fish options.

In the UK and US, Swai fish is sold as Basa fish.

In the US, it can’t be sold as Vietnamese catfish due to laws passed in 2003.

It is cheaper to purchase Bassa fish compared to other white fish options making it a popular fish. It is also more affordable than other seafood options.

What Does Swai Fish Look Like?

Swai Fish is a heavy fish, and its body is stout and bulky. The head of swai fish is wider as opposed to long.

When looking at the snout of swai fish, you should see a white stripe on its muzzle. The fish also appears to have whiskers at the sides of its mouth.

What Does Swai Fish Taste Like?

Swai fish, also called Vietnamese catfish, has a delicate taste, as it usually absorbs the flavors of other ingredients used in the recipe.

This basa fish is white, tender, has a flaky texture, and is moist. Swai is popular because it is free of the usual fishy taste that accompanies fish and seafood.

The way you are cooking Swai has a great impact on its taste, and there are numerous swai fish recipes available that you can choose from when it is time to eat swai fish.

When it comes to cooking seafood, making swai fish is much easier, and there are numerous swai fish recipes to choose from.

Is Swai Fish The Same As Tilapia?

It can be easy to confuse the fish swai and tilapia as both are freshwater fish. However, there is a difference between the fish swai (iridescent shark) and tilapia.

While the fish swai is home to southeast Asia, tilapia can be found worldwide.

While both tilapia and Swai may be white fish, tilapia is a fattier option. In North America, you will find Swai sold in frozen form, but tilapia can be purchased fresh.

What Are The Benefits Of This Freshwater Fish?

As a general rule eating fish should be part of your diet, people eat fish due to its nutritional value, as it is a rich source of protein and healthy fats such as omega-3-fatty acids, fish is beneficial for your bone health and can help you lose weight. Swai fish is no different from other fish in its nutritional composition.

Uncooked swai fillets weighing 4 ounces (113 grams) contain a number of nutrients.

These include 11mg of omega-three fatty acids, 15 grams of protein, 1.5 grams of fat, vitamin B12, Selenium, and a total of 70 calories.

Swai fish is not expensive, and for a more affordable fish, the nutrient content is good.

However, other fish such as wild-caught salmon or American catfish have better contents of omega-3- fatty acids as well as proteins when compared to swai fish.

How To Cook Swai Fish?

There are various swai fish recipes to ensure you enjoy your swai fish, and these cater to those who like a mild flavor to their fish and those with other preferences.

You can eat fried swai fish, have it with a lemon butter sauce, grilled or braised.

1) Swai With Lemon Butter Sauce Recipe

To make Swai in lemon butter sauce, you need 10 minutes and a few ingredients, including swai fish fillets.

You need butter, salt and ground black pepper, lemon juice, white wine, and of course fish fillets, they can be swai fish fillets, or whatever fish you want, like halibut.

  • Simply season your swai fish with salt and ground black pepper after washing your fish with cold water and drying the fish (remember to pat dry your fish using paper towels).
  • Begin by heating your pan on medium-high heat; once heated, add the vegetable oil of your liking.
  • Then add your swai fillets and pan fry for 1-2 minutes on both sides.
  • Once you see that the swai fillets are showing slightly crispy edges take the fillets off the pan.

To make the lemon butter sauce, you will need melted butter and lemon juice.

  • Put the melted butter in the pan, and combine with lemon juice and white wine.
  • You can use lemon juice freshly squeezed or store-bought lemon juice to make your lemon butter sauce.
  • Once your lemon juice, butter, and white wine mixture begin to bubble, you can take the lemon butter sauce off the heat.
  • Carefully pour the lemon butter sauce over your fillets and serve immediately.

You can garnish with parsley if you wish. Your swai fish with lemon butter sauce is ready to eat.

2) Grilled Swai Fish Recipe

One of the many ways you can cook swai fish is by grilling the fillets.

Among the many swai fish recipes, this is a quick and easy way of cooking swai fish while ensuring that you eat an Asian catfish that tastes delicious.

For this recipe, you will need swai fillets, olive oil (or any vegetable oil), the spices of your choosing (fewer spices results in a mild flavor), salt and ground black pepper, and lemon slices.

This recipe is quick and simple.

  • The first step is to preheat your grill to a medium-high heat setting.
  • Once this step is complete, you need to brush the fillets with olive oil and then generously marinate the fillets in salt, ground black pepper, and your spice mix.
  • Place the swai fish on your grill and cook on each side for five minutes.
  • Ensure that you don’t overcook the fish, or it will be chewy to eat.
  • As soon as the internal temperature of swai fish reaches 145F, you can take the fish off the grill.

3) Fried Swai Fish Recipe

Among the many swai recipes, the easiest way of making this fish is to pan-fry it.

  • The first step before making any of these swai recipes is to wash the fish with cold water and to pat dry it with paper towels.
  • For a delicious seafood meal that is super quick, fry your fillets in the vegetable oil of your choice and add any sauce that you enjoy.
  • Ensure that your swai fish has slightly crispy edges before you begin to eat. You can season the swai fish as per your tastes, whether that be spicy or mild.

4) Baked Swai Fish Recipe

Frying is not the healthiest option, and if you are eating fish, then it is best to make it in the healthiest way possible such as baking.

You can easily bake swai fish and eat it with a lemon butter sauce (made using butter, lemon juice, and white wine, as mentioned above).

To bake your swai fish, simply preheat your oven to 375F. Marinate your fish with a combination of paprika, salt, and pepper and place them on your baking sheet.

Pour your sauce over the fish and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the fish is soft, flaky, and fully cooked.

Garnish the dish with parsley and serve immediately.

5) Braised Swai Recipe

This recipe is easy to make and delicious.

The ingredients for this recipe are simple; all you need to make this braised swai recipe is Swai, oil, garlic, half an onion, salt, fish sauce, soy sauce, coconut water, chili, black pepper, green onion, and red chili pepper.

  • To begin this recipe, saute your garlic with oil until brown.
  • The next step in this recipe is to layer your onion in the pan and add your Swai on top.
  • Add your sauces and chili, turn the heat up and let it boil. Once it has boiled, let it simmer for 20 minutes on low heat. Flip the Swai over and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Garnish and serve once cooked through.

Is It Safe To Eat It?

While Swai fish itself is not bad, the issue that is arising is whether factory-farmed fish is safe for consumption.

Is swai fish safe?

It is fast becoming a concern due to fish farms.

One of the main reasons it is cheap to purchase Swai is because it is easily farmed. However, with this farming comes numerous issues.

Overcrowding is the main issue that arises, and with overcrowding comes the spread of various infections, along with the generation of massive amounts of waste.

Factory farmed swai fish are more likely to be contaminated with infections.

To combat this, fish farms use antibiotics, but this leads to antibiotic residues in farmed fish.

Studies done into seafood, such as swai catfish, found that they had drugs levels above the allowed amount. This makes the swai catfish not safe to eat.

Other studies were done into seafood; specifically, swai catfish that is farm-raised found that these fish have high mercury levels, above the acceptable quantities.

Other contaminations and heavy metals have been found in Swai, and this means they are not safe to eat.

When you purchase Swai, there are a few things you should look for to ensure that the seafood you are buying is safe for you to eat.

Number one in your swai safety checklist should be the smell of the Swai.

If the Swai has a fishy smell that is incredibly unpleasant, then do not buy the fish.

The ASC Farmed Pangasius is a label you should look for when buying Swai, along with BAP-certified and Naturland labels.

These ensure that the Swai you are buying has been bred in conditions that are good for both the environment and the Swai.

You should always look for Swai that is being sold by trustworthy companies, and this ensures that the Swai you buy is safe for consumption and free of contaminants.

Finally, it is best to eat your Swai fully cooked. Eating raw fish can increase your chances of infection from bacteria such as vibrio cholera.


Swai is not unsafe for consumption if you are buying it from a trusted company that can certify it has been bred in ideal conditions for both the fish and the environment.

If, however, you are not satisfied and no longer feel comfortable with Swai, you can opt for alternatives.

These offer you the same if not better nutrition and similar taste as well; they can be used as replacements in recipes that use Swai.

If you are looking for white fish options, then you can choose from a large variety such as flounder, pacific cod, US catfish, and haddock.

Other options that are better in nutrition include trout, sardines, anchovies, salmon, pacific oysters, and herring.

These fish can be used in a variety of recipes.

They are versatile and great tasting, and they can be eaten fried, baked, and grilled.


Swai is safe to eat if you are buying it from trusted resources. It is a nutritional and affordable option for those looking to add fish to their diet on a budget.

There are various ways you can make this fish, and because of its neutral taste, it can be seasoned however you wish.