The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

2:03 PM

Chef David Buchanan~An Introduction to Swai

Posted by Magic of Spice

A Guest Post by Chef David Buchanan~
Introducing Swai - Catfish by Another Name

Our guest here today is Chef David Buchanan, a long  time friend of mine, in fact one
 of my very earliest connections and friends in the wonderful world of food blogging!
 His site "Chef's Resources" is a culinary dream for all. You can find all the information
you need, right at your fingertips, on both seafood /meats as well as culinary "how to's".
But aside from all of that, David is one of the most personable people you could ever
 want to know. I have enjoyed many conversations, prompts to get my culinary
 side activated, and a host of other interactions with him.

I had to do a bit of prompting to get a Bio from him, and as expected, it was a
downplay of sorts. So, I am going to add my own Bio for him here, sorry David
...just go with it :) So let me introduce my friend Chef David Buchanan to you...
his words and mine....interlaced :)

By day, David is a chef de cuisine who oversees the "Award Winning" 
Blackfish restaurant in the Tulalip Resort Casino. And by night, he is the author
of a "brilliant culinary resource"....Chef’s, a website "providing
culinary information geared towards chefs and foodies of all passions".

And now a few words from David on this featured fish and an extraordinary recipe, plus a  gorgeous sauce and tips on how to master this culinary favorite...

Do you prefer catfish or Swai fish? Although many people wonder, “What the heck is Swai fish?” the debate (and commercial war) has been ongoing for the past decade in the United States. Sales of Swai have been in the top ten of total US fish sales for the past few years. The question revolves around the common American catfish known as Channel Catfish, and Swai fish which is a catfish from Vietnam. On the one hand channel catfish are US grown, so purchasing it supports US catfish farmers. On the other hand, Swai fish is available at a more economical price point. And with the exception of diehard channel catfish lovers, most people prefer the flavor of Swai fish over American catfish. This has been proven in blind tastings and is due to the fact that Swai fish have a milder, sweeter flavor than channel catfish does. Ultimately there is no right or wrong answer. It simply depends upon your priorities and perspectives. Are you pro-American regardless of all other issues? Then buy American channel catfish. Is taste more important to you and you don't care about politics? Then try both fish and eat the one which satisfies you the most. If cost is the most important factor to you than Swai fish is probably going to be your best bet.

Parmesan Crusted Swai with Mushrooms, 
Artichokes and Spinach
I prepared this dish with a Roasted Corn Polenta and Lemon Beurre Blanc. But Swai is very versatile and lends itself well to many sauces and side dishes. It has a mildly sweet flavor, is moderately low in fat, and has a tender texture with medium-small flakes. Many recipes for Snapper or Halibut also work for Swai.

For the Swai and vegetables:
Serves 4
3 tablespoon Olive Oil
10 ounces assorted sliced mushrooms (I used Shiitake,  Crimini & Maitake)
1.5 tablespoons Shallots, minced
2 teaspoons Garlic, minced
6 ounces Roasted Red Bell Pepper, julienne
4 ounces canned Artichoke Hearts (marinated), quartered
4 ounces Baby Spinach
3 ounces Vine Ripe Tomato, julienne
4 each Swai fillet (about 6 ounces each)
pinch Kosher Salt and fresh ground Black Pepper
Flour for dredging
2 eggs whisked (for egg wash)
1 Tbl water
5 ounces freshly shredded Parmesan Cheese

For the lemon beurre blanc:
Yield: serves 4
1 tablespoon shallots, sliced
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons heavy cream
8 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cubed into 8 pieces
1 teaspoon honey
pinch of sea salt

For the vegetables:
In a heavy bottom sauce pan add the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until lightly caramelized (browned). Season lightly with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the shallots and garlic, sweat until translucent. Add roasted red pepper and artichokes, sweat for several minutes just to warm through. Remove from heat then add spinach and tomato, toss until spinach is lightly wilted (about 1-2 minutes).

For the eggwash:
Combine the eggs and water. Mix well. For the fish: Lightly season the Swai. Dredge lightly in the flour… shake off the excess. Dredge in the egg wash, completely coating all edges of the fish. Let excess egg drip off the fish, then press into the grated parmesan, coating both the top and bottom of the fillet.

In a heavy bottom sauté pan over medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons olive oil. When the oil is hot, carefully add the fish, letting the fillets fall away from you (so if grease splatters it will splatter away). Sauté until golden brown, gently turn, reduce the heat to medium and finish cooking. Remove from pan, pat excess oil away with a paper towel. Hold in warm area (but not on the paper towel… it will stick).

For the lemon beurre blanc:
Plan the meal so the sauce is one of the last things you prepare. Beurre Blanc means “white butter sauce” in French, meaning that the sauce is made with a white wine. Beurre Rouge would be a butter sauce made with red wine. Butter sauces of this type can be a little tricky because they are heat sensitive… if they get too hot, or if the butter is added too fast, they can turn into an oily mass. And if they are too cool when added to a hot dish they also “break” and it separates into an oily mess. But when you have mastered a beurre blanc it is such an elegant and versatile sauce. With a few modifications you can create beurre blancs flavored with orange, vanilla, pomegranate, fig… a host of options!

In a heavy sauce pan over medium-low heat add the oil and shallots. Sweat until translucent. Add the wine and lemon juice. Reduce to about 2 tablespoons. Add the cream, reduce by about 2/3, until it is fairly thick. At this point, if the edges of the pan are brown then transfer the ingredients to a new sauce pan. Return to a low simmer, slowly add the butter one cube at a time, whisking constantly.

When one butter cube is almost melted add another. When you add the last butter cube, remove pan from the stove and let the residual heat melt the last cube, whisking constantly. Add the honey and sea salt, whisk. Strain through a fine sieve (or chinios if you have one) into a small warm metal bowl. Hold in a warm (but not hot) area on top of the stove. Arrange the Swai over your starch of choice. Add vegetables. Drizzle lemon beurre blanc over the front edges of the fish.
 Grub time!

As a side note, there has been some negative press about the quality of Swai, and although there may be a grain of truth to some of the claims, I think a lot of it is BS. I’ve spoken with a number of fish purveyors who import and sell fish all over the West Coast and they point out that if they were to sell garbage fish (or unhealthy fish as some propaganda suggests) it would hurt their reputation and therefore hurt their business. Most restaurants and main stream grocery stores purchase from reputable seafood vendors who have their own inspectors who verify the quality of the fish they purchase and sell.
Alisha~Magic of Spice

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