Basa, also known as swai, pangasius and panga, is a type of river catfish native to Southeast Asia. It is usually farm raised throughout the Mekong River Delta region and then exported around the world. A relatively inexpensive fish, it is quite high in protein and low in calories. A 4-ounce serving has 14 grams of protein and 110 calories. Its mild taste and white flesh are complemented by a variety of flavors, although heavy spices or sauces will overpower its taste. It can be prepared by baking, broiling, grilling and pan-frying.
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Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse the basa fillet and pat dry. Season the fish with lemon juice, finely chopped garlic, salt and pepper.
Place the fish into a greased baking dish and top with a pat of butter. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil. Place the fish into the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Uncover the fish, squeeze additional lemon juice and a sprinkling of finely chopped cilantro. Cover the fish with the foil and bake for 5 minutes more until the fish is opaque in color and flakes easily with a fork.
Add a few teaspoons of olive oil to a heavy skillet and heat to medium high. Season the basa fillet with smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
Place the fillet into the pan and cook for 4 minutes, until the edges of the fish start to brown slightly. Carefully flip the fillet over, using a fish spatula so that it does not fall apart. Cook another 3 minutes until the flesh is opaque and cooked through.
Serve the fillet immediately with lemon wedges and aioli or a light tartar sauce, if desired.