Monday, 8 April 2013

Pangasius - Catfish (Πανγκάσιους)

The media are again telling us that we are not eating what we think. First it was beef, now it is fish. What's more, we're eating fish species that were never eaten in the past. What we are not told (or reminded) is that people in the past were the ones paving the way for us to eat much of the food we are now eating, testing it in a way for us; so if we are now eating more newer flora/fauna species, we are simply doing what our ancestors did - we are paving the way for more food sources for our future generations.
Fish and chips - and the ubiquitous salad
Pangasius fish, otherwise known as catfish, is one of the newer species of fish that perhaps our grandparents didn't eat. It is farmed mainly in Vietnam and shipped all over the world in frozen form. It is a meaty white fish that can be used for roasting, frying or poaching. Due to its versatility and low price, pangasius is the fish of choice used when my workplace names fish on the menu for its resident students and staff.  
I rememebered potato fritters from my time in New Zealand - if only I had some time to make some tartare sauce.
It is said that cod is often being substituted with cheaper fish like pollock and pangasius in traditional fish and chips in Britain. As I've mentioned before on the blog, when you are not doing the cooking, you can't really expect not to be fooled. If it cooks up and tastes almost the same, you can't really tell what you are eating. And if the price is cheap, you can be sure you are being fooled.  
Pangasius looks good and tastes good - as long as it's fried.
Pangasius does not have a very distinctive taste, nor does it seem to smell much of fish. I've used pangasius before in my cooking and I find that it tastes good only when it is fried. I cooked fish and chips for the family  using this fish species. The fried catfish came out moist and the batter and olive oil gave it a good flavour. Pangasius is cheaper than bakaliaro (salted cod) and much easier to work with. Neither are in essence sustainably farmed or caught - but if you want to eat a cheap fish and chips meal, you won't have much choice: either your conscience or your pocket will rule, and these days, it's usually your pocket. 

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