Something's Fishy Around Here

Most Friday mornings, I head to the market for a pound of fresh haddock or sole. I prefer wild caught to farm raised but pretty much settle for whatever's on sale. Last week, a firm white filet caught my eye. I asked about it and was told that it was basa fish, a Vietnamese import, a mild cousin to catfish and a popular choice on the west coast that more recently made its way east.

I'm a strong advocate of supporting local producers and that includes fishery but I was too curious not to give this strange new item a try. The delicate, white basa is a perfect fish for baking in a spicy tomato sauce. A word to the wise: much of what's advertised as basa is really tra, a cheaper, inferior import. If you're going to live with the guilt of purchasing an import, don't settle for less than the real thing. Ask before you buy.

I've used this recipe for years with homegrown catfish. It also works with any mild white fish. For the optimum result, make sure it's a filet not the thicker loin cut. Meow-velous!

1 pound basa or catfish filets
teaspoon olive oil
2 cups tomato, diced
1 clove garlic, grated
¼ teaspoon dried basil
(1 teaspoon chopped fresh)
¼ teaspoon dried oregano (1 teaspoon chopped fresh)
1 small hot red pepper, cut into thin strips
1 medium green Cuban sweet pepper, cut into thin strips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Wash and pat the fish filets dry with a paper towel. Place the filets in a single layer in a baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil. In a medium bowl, gently stir together garlic, basil, oregano and diced tomatoes. Top the filets with the tomato mixture. Sprinkle red and green pepper strips over tomatoes. Cover with foil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Fish will be white and flake easily with a fork. Serves 4.


  1. thanks for the recipe and the lesson on fish buying, etc.... we went down to the yukatan this summer and had our guides make ceviche out on the boat with fish caught within the hour. i could be happy living a simple life in a fishing villiage.


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