Hope and I have been trying to eat more fish during the week. Neither of us are fans of salmon and typically we eat orange roughy because we prefer more mild flaky white fish. However, there are apparent overfishing concerns with this Orange Roughy, a fish not suitable to be farm-raised. Don't get me wrong, I likes me an occasional Chilean Sea Bass, but not once or twice a week. We're looking for a stand-by fish to eat frequently. We were at Sam's Club the other day and picked up a package of Striped Pangasius. The description on the back indicated it was a mild fish, and was quite inexpensive at about $2.60 per pound.
Always skeptical, I started researching this fish post-purchase.
The brand is Treasures From The Sea, however this appears to be a freshwater fish. A catfish varietal, in fact, that lends itself to mass farm-fishing. I decided to compare it to Tilapia, another farm-raised fresh-water fish, of the same brand to see what I was getting myself into. The Tilapia sells for approximately $3.09 per pound.
First I considered the source. Pangasius is a Vietnamese export, Vietnam being the primary global producer at about 80%. The Tilapia is produced in China. If I want inexpensive, I guess I have to accept the fact that my pre-packaged frozen fish must be imported. I'll need more time to find neutral resources and determine if the methods of raising and producing the respective fish have any drawbacks. Again, skepticism says that I'd be naive to believe there weren't any significant environmental or production concerns with either fish.
From a nutritional standpoint, Tilapia seems to be a somewhat better choice:
Values are per oz.
Both of these fish are relatively low in omega-3 fatty acids. There is a great deal of discussion regarding the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids as well. I need to research this issue from independent sources as well before I determine the importance of this ratio. However, omega-3 is one of the big reasons to eat fish aside from its lower percentage of fat to weight versus red meat. Unfortunately, I'm not a big fan of the fish that yields high omega-3 fatty acids. So I'd like to see where these products stand relative to Salmon for comparison purposes.
When it came time to cook the fish, I was surprised to notice absolutely no aroma to the fish after opening the vacuum-sealed package. Literally no detectable smells or ordors or anything, completely neutral. I prepared the fish simply, coating lightly with flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder and Old Bay and fried in olive oil. The fillets are quite thin and cook in less than five minutes. The taste is almost the same as the smell, practically undetectable...much the way of tofu. The fish cooks to a very fine texture, not at all flaky.
This fish represents a blank slate for the home cook. I'll season mine more heavily next time, or even give it a quick half hour dry rub (perhaps salt, brown sugar, cayenne and garlic?) or a brief soak in soy before coating and frying. It really needs attention to flavor prior to cooking. To say this is a good stand-by fish is yet to be determined. Once I have some time to experiement with other ways to prep the fish, and to determine if it even provides the nutritional benefits we're looking for from fish, then we can decide.