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Home > Guides > Introducing Culinary Vietnam - The Basa Fish

Introducing Culinary Vietnam - The Basa Fish

Friday, 08 October 2010 14:55
The Basa is a variety of catfish, native to the Mekong River Delta of Vietnam. Commonly marketed as bocourti, white ruffy or China sole, it has failed to gain much popularity in the United States, possibly due to poor marketing ploys from Vietnamese seafood companies, coupled with controversy from competing American companies. Whatever the reason, Basa should not be overlooked, by any means. Milder in flavour than American catfish, the Basa is a very versatile fish and is quite often sold for a good price, rivalling that of the catfish or other popular fish such as tilapia or grouper.

Unlike many species that are raised in fisheries, Basa are captured in the river and allowed to grow in the very same waters that they came from. Kept in floating cages, alongside the fishing boats, Basa are fed smaller fish and hand-reared until they are large enough for market. The end result is a tasty fish with a bright white coloration and a delicate texture that is sure to lend itself well to a variety of wonderful dishes.

Looking for a quick and inexpensive dinner that will introduce you to Vietnamese cuisine? Follow these simple instructions for a quick and easy Basa dish that practically cooks itself:

Fresh or thawed Basa fillets (1 per person)
Butter or margarine
Lemon
Rosemary
Minced onion
Garlic salt
Dried parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees on bake setting.

Taking a piece of aluminum foil, shiny-side up, and arrange your Basa filets on it, leaving a little bit of space between each filet. You can arrange them either side by side or lengthwise, depending on how many you are cooking at once. Just be sure that there is enough room on all sides of your foil to be able to crimp it over well, when the time comes.

Place a pat of butter or margarine on each filet (2 if they are large filets).

Squeeze lemon juice over the filets, to taste. This can either be fresh-squeezed or store-bought lemon juice; both will work nicely.

Add a sprig or two of fresh rosemary or, if you use dried herbs, a light sprinkling of dried rosemary will really help dress up your fish. Remember that dried herbs have a more potent and sometimes bitter flavor, when compared to fresh, so don't overdo it.

Add a light sprinkling or garlic salt and dried parsley for added color and flavor if you choose.

Taking another piece of aluminum foil, shiny-side down, lay this lightly over your fish and crimp the edges of the two pieces of foil together, forming a loose bubble around the fish. Make sure all edges are closed off tightly, preventing leakage and steam from escaping.

Place fish into the oven, on the center rack, and allow to cook until the fish flakes lightly with a fork (usually about 20 minutes for ½ inch thickness). Foil can be opened up for the last 5 minutes if you choose to lightly brown the fish.

This wonderful and mild-flavoured Vietnamese fish dish goes nicely with a wide variety of vegetables, but we enjoy coupling it with delicious steamed broccoli, baby carrots and baby corn for a bright, healthy and tasty plate.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

by Shawna L. Krautheim