One of the easiest fish to cook, Basa is as good as it gets for clean, simple and delicious seafood.
Many see monsoon as a time of cleansing and beauty, and then there’s the fish eaters. For a Konkani, Keralite, Bangali, and any of the millions of Indians whose staple food is fish, Monsoon can be a saddening time given the ban on fishing. However, companies like Cambay Tiger farm their produce, thus maintaining the supply of good quality fish with monsoon being the harvesting season.
Basa is a fish that is not indigenous to India, but over the last decade it has taken the Indian food palate by a storm. This white fleshy fish, with no hassle of smell and very few bones, is the perfect way to satisfy one’s fish craving during the rainy season.
Basa is also very easy to cook. It can be baked, fried, steamed, sautéed, cured, and cooked with just about any cooking technique to yield a delicious result. Here’s five easy ways to cook Pangasius bocourti, what we locally call Basa:
Baking fish is a great way of extracting maximum flavour from it. Of course the most common way to bake Basa is to rub it with a lemon seasoning, with other spices such as pepper and paprika, and salt to taste. Pre-heating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and cooking for around 10-15 minutes may be considered the standard cooking time for basa.
Let’s face it, there are a lot of great cooking techniques, but the richness that develops when a piece of fish is sautéed is unparalleled. The thing about sautéing is that you could apply it to any flavour palette. You can experiment with Chinese spices with caramelised onions, or keep it more Indian and throw it in the pan with the garam masala, dhanya, and a squeeze of lemon. Served with some steamed noodles, or naan bread, and you’re good to go.
If you’re into clean eating or prefer dishes that are lighter and more refined, steaming is a wonderful way to preserve the purity of the fish while making for a delicious, melt in your mouth, dinner or lunch. A great way to compliment a steamed piece of fish is to compliment it with a sauce. You can keep it simple with an olive oil and herb dressing, but a clear chilli soy sauce or a creamy Dijon sauce would also work beautifully.
No Indian household can survive without there quintessential curries. Be it your red curries packed with spice and oomph, or your milder yet exciting coconut based curries of the South. The great thing about Basa, and why it fits perfectly into our culture, is because you can treat like just any other home grown fish, and it turns out great!
Crunch and delicious fish beneath the crust; it doesn’t get better than that! Panko crusted basa or tempura crusted basa, with some seasoning to taste, is one of the all-time favourite ways to cook the fish. Nothing can replace the fried decadence of Basa!
Don’t let seasons dictate your food habits. A switch to farmed produce can be the answer that every fish lover has been looking for!