With labeling of seafood becoming more important, a "new" fish is showing up on the fish counters. Swai is a river fish farmed in Southeast Asia -- Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos -- and is one of the common components of those cuisines.
In the past, Swai was often mislabeled as "Catfish." Part of this confusion is the result of the other names for Swai: Striped Catfish or River Catfish. Catfish, on the other hand, is raised in the U.S. According to Seafood Watch, the "watchfish" arm of the Monterey Bay Aquarium (California), catfish is primarily farmed in the Southeast and is the most commonly farmed fish. The revenues generated from catfish are the most of all farmed seafood. Additionally, catfish is a sustainable fish species.
In addition to Swai, other Asian river fish increasingly found on U.S. fish counters are Basa and Tra. Sometimes these, too, are mislabeled as Catfish.
Swai, Basa and Tra are sometimes priced as low as $2.99 per pound, which is considerably lower than most fish -- hence their popularity.
Where to find Swai (upon availability): Bloom, 2226 Park Road; Compare Foods, 818 E. Arrowood Road; Inner Harbor Seafood Market, 3019 Central Ave.; Overseas Food, 4603 South Blvd.
Looking for a food you can't find? Or do you know of other food items unique to the QC? Whether it's regional foods or international, talk to me: firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-522-8334, ext 136.