Basa is the name some marketing dude has coined for Vietnamese Catfish (like the Patagonian Toothfish became popular on menus around the world as Chilean Sea Bass). This fish has become very popular in India in recent years - the restaurants were the first to begin and now it is available in most metros at neighbourhood frozen food outlets. In just a few years, the annual import of basa has crossed 1,500 tonnes with Kolkata alone consuming 500 to 600 tonnes - that local seafood loving city!
With its firm, white flesh which lends itself to almost any kind of dish, and lack of "fishy" smell, it has become much favoured by the local palate especially for grilled and Oriental dishes. The supply chain supports this demand by making perfectly frozen fillets available at competitive prices. My neighbourhood guy sells it at Rs. 450 /kg - I got 6 servings out of it, enough for 2 meals for 3 people. Compare this with Rs. 600-Rs. 700/kg for sole or even local fish like surmai or pomfret which are between Rs 350 - Rs 400 per kg.
Of course, I would never use basa to replace local fish in Indian curries - but it seems perfect for appetizers and grilled mains. This time I used Asian flavours to marinate the fish and then baked it and served it over stir fried noodles. Delicious.
Asian Style Baked Basa with Crispy NoodlesServes 2
Basa Fillet - 1 large - about 350gms
Fish Sauce - 1 tbsp
Soy Sauce - 1 tbsp
Sriracha Sauce (or any Hot sauce) - 1 tbsp
Olive Oil - 1 tbsp
Garlic - 1tbsp, finely chopped
Ginger - 1 tbsp, thinly shredded
For the baking process
Rice wine vinegar - 1 tbsp
Lime juice - 1 tbsp
Coriander - 2 tbsp chopped
Olive Oil - 1 tbsp
Freshly crushed black pepper
salt to taste
Spring Onions - 2 sliced (reserve the green tops)
Green chilli - 2 slit
Noodles - 200gms (I was out of noodles and used spaghetti)
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
salt to taste
Garlic - 2 cloves chopped finely
1. Mix all ingredients for the marinade, lightly whisk and keep aside.
2. Divide the Basa fillet into two portions and marinate in the prepared marinade for about half an hour to an hour
3. Pre heat oven to 180C. Mix the rice wine vinegar, Olive oil, lime juice, chopped coriander, salt and pepper.
4. Pour the prepared vinegar mixture into a baking tray, remove the fish fillets from the marinade (reserve the marinade for the spaghetti) and place on the baking tray. Top each fillet with half of the chopped spring onions and one green chilli
5. Bake in the pre heated oven at 180C for 15 minutes, till the fish is just flaky.
6. While the fish is baking, bring a pot of water to boil, add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cool till just done (al dente). Takes about 6-8 minutes.
7. In a wok or heavy bottomed pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil, add the finely chopped garlic cloves and saute for half a minute. Add the reserved marinade mixture and boil 2 minutes.
8. Add the spaghetti to the wok and stir fry for 3-5 minutes till slightly crispy, season with a little salt if needed, usually the marinade mixture has ennough salt in it from the sauces.
9. To serve, divide the noodles between two plates and place one fillet of fish on top of each pile. Garnish with chopped spring onion greens and a wedge of lime.