What is Pangasius Fish?

What is Pangasius Fish?

Published by Temi on 8th Oct 2023

In recent years, the humble pangasius fish has found itself at the center of a culinary controversy. Revered by some as an affordable and sustainable source of seafood, yet criticized by others for concerns regarding farming practices and labeling, the pangasius fish has sparked a debate in the world of cuisine. But what exactly is pangasius fish?

This article aims to peel back the layers of mystery surrounding this freshwater fish. We'll dive into its origins, discuss its nutritional value, explore its culinary versatility, and provide an objective look at the controversies that have made this farmed fish a topic of discussion among seafood enthusiasts and environmentalists alike. 

What is Pangasius Fish?

Pangasius fish, scientifically known as Pangasius hypophthalmus, is a type of freshwater catfish native to Southeast Asia. It is also commonly referred to as "swai," "basa," or "tra" in various regions.

Background of Pangasius Farming 

For many years, Pangasius has been raised in Southeast Asia. However, it didn't start to be sold in significant amounts to Europe and North America until the late 1990s and early 2000s. The need for seafood, the expanding world population, and the pangasius industry's relatively inexpensive production costs in comparison to other fish kinds were some of the causes that fueled its rapid expansion making it one of the most farmed fish today.

What Does Pangasius Fish taste like?

Pangasius is known for its mild flavor, which is not overly fishy or pronounced. This mildness makes it a versatile choice for various culinary preparations. The fish's flavor is relatively neutral, meaning it doesn't have strong, distinct fishy notes.

Nutritional Value of Pangasius Fish

Pangasius fish is valued for its nutritional content, offering a range of essential nutrients while being relatively low in calories and fat. Here's an overview of the nutritional value of pangasius fish per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of cooked fillet:

  • Calories: Panga fish is a relatively low-calorie protein source with approximately 90-105 calories.
  • Protein: Pangasius is a rich source of high-quality protein, with about 16-20 grams per 3.5 ounces.
  • Fat: This fish is low in fat and typically contains around 1-2 grams per 3.5 ounces. 
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Panga provides a modest amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute to heart and brain health.
  • Vitamins: It also contains essential vitamins such as vitamin D, vitamin B12, and niacin (vitamin B3).

Health Benefits of Pangasius Fish

Panga fish, offers several potential health benefits when included in a balanced diet. Here are some of the health benefits associated with consuming pangasius fish:

Rich Source of Protein

Pangasius fish is a good source of high-quality protein, which is essential for muscle growth, repair, and overall body maintenance.

Low in Calories and Fat

Pangasius is a lean fish, containing relatively low levels of calories and fat. This makes it a suitable choice for those looking to maintain or achieve a healthy weight.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

While not as rich in omega-3 fatty acids as some other fatty fish like salmon or mackerel, pangasius still provides a modest amount of these heart-healthy fats, which can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.


Pangasius contains essential vitamins, including vitamin D, which supports bone health and immune function, and vitamin B12, important for nerve function and red blood cell production.


Pangasius is a source of minerals like selenium, which acts as an antioxidant, and phosphorus, vital for bone health and energy metabolism.

Low in Mercury

Pangasius is considered a low-mercury fish, which means it poses a lower risk of mercury contamination compared to some other seafood options. This makes it a safe choice for regular consumption, including during pregnancy.

Complete Protein Source

Pangasius provides all the essential amino acids needed for protein synthesis in the body, making it a complete protein source.

How to Cook Pangasius Fish

Cooking panga fish is relatively simple due to its mild flavor and versatile nature. It can be prepared using various cooking methods such as baking, grilling, broiling, pan-frying, or steaming. Here's a basic guide on how to cook pangasius fish:


  • Pangasius fish fillets
  • Olive oil or cooking oil of your choice
  • Seasonings and herbs (e.g., salt, pepper, garlic, lemon juice, herbs like parsley or dill)


  1. Thaw the Fish: If your pangasius fillets are frozen, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight or follow the package instructions for quick thawing. Ensure the fillets are fully thawed before cooking.
  2. Season the Fish: Season the pangasius fillets with your choice of seasonings. A simple combination of salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil works well. You can also add minced garlic, lemon juice, or your favorite herbs and spices for extra flavor.
  3. Preheat the Cooking Surface: Depending on your chosen cooking method, preheat the cooking surface. For baking, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). For grilling, preheat the grill to medium-high heat. For pan-frying, preheat a skillet or pan over medium-high heat.
  4. Cooking Methods:
    • Baking: Place the seasoned pangasius fillets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or lightly greased. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the fillets.
    • Grilling: Place the seasoned pangasius fillets directly on the grill grates. Grill for approximately 4-5 minutes per side, or until the fish is cooked through and has grill marks. You can also use a grill basket or foil for easier handling.
    • Pan-Frying: Heat a skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat with a bit of oil. Add the seasoned pangasius fillets and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until the fillets turn golden brown and easily flake with a fork.
    • Broiling: Preheat the broiler in your oven. Place the seasoned pangasius fillets on a broiler pan or a baking sheet lined with foil. Broil for about 4-6 minutes per side, or until the fish is cooked through and slightly crispy on the outside.
  5. Serve: Once cooked, transfer the pangasius fillets to serving plates. Garnish with fresh herbs, lemon wedges, or your preferred sauce. Pangasius pairs well with a variety of side dishes, such as steamed vegetables, rice, or a crisp salad.

Pangasius Recipes to Try

Here are three delicious pangasius fish recipes to try, each showcasing a different cooking technique and flavor profile:

1. Baked Pangasius with Lemon and Herbs: This simple baked pangasius recipe combines the bright flavors of lemon and fresh herbs.


  • 4 pangasius fillets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Place pangasius fillets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Drizzle olive oil over the fillets and season with salt, pepper, minced garlic, and chopped parsley.
  4. Arrange lemon slices on top of the fillets.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
  6. Serve with additional lemon wedges and garnish with fresh parsley.

2. Grilled Pangasius Tacos: These grilled pangasius fish tacos are bursting with flavor and perfect for a casual meal.


  • 4 pangasius fillets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 small corn tortillas
  • Coleslaw or shredded lettuce
  • Salsa, avocado slices, and lime wedges for garnish


  1. In a small bowl, mix olive oil, chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper to create a marinade.
  2. Brush the marinade over the pangasius fillets and let them marinate for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and oil the grates.
  4. Grill the pangasius fillets for about 4-5 minutes per side or until they are cooked through and have grill marks.
  5. Warm the corn tortillas on the grill.
  6. Assemble your tacos by placing a grilled pangasius fillet on each tortilla. Top with coleslaw or shredded lettuce, salsa, avocado slices, and a squeeze of lime juice.

3. Pan-Fried Pangasius with Garlic Butter Sauce: This pan-fried pangasius recipe features a flavorful garlic butter sauce.


  • 4 pangasius fillets
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped


  1. Season pangasius fillets with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add pangasius fillets and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until they are golden brown and cooked through.
  4. Remove the fish from the skillet and set aside.
  5. In the same skillet, add butter and minced garlic. Sauté for a minute until fragrant.
  6. Stir in fresh lemon juice and chopped parsley.
  7. Pour the garlic butter sauce over the pan-fried pangasius fillets.
  8. Serve hot, garnished with additional parsley and lemon wedges.

Controversies Surrounding Panga Fish

Despite its popularity, there have been a lot of disputes in the pangasius industry lately. The following are two of the most important issues surrounding this farmed fish: 

Sustainability: According to critics, the pangasius industry's quick growth has strained wild fisheries and other aquatic species' natural habitats. The use of antibiotics and other chemicals in pangasius farming can also have negative environmental repercussions

Environmental Impact: Basa fish farming is frequently criticised for having a detrimental effect on water quality because the dense populations of the fish in ponds can produce significant waste and pollution. Furthermore, significant wetlands have disappeared as a result of the conversion of vast tracts of land into fish ponds.

Where to Buy Pangasius Fish?

Many supermarkets and grocery stores carry frozen pangasius fillets in their seafood section. If you're in the UK and are looking to get Panga Fish delivered to your doorstep why not try our African Food Store?


In the realm of seafood, pangasius fish emerges as a versatile and accessible option that appeals to both culinary pragmatists and budget-conscious consumers. Its mild flavor, adaptability in various recipes, and nutritional benefits make it a practical choice for those seeking a seafood option that accommodates a wide range of palates and dietary preferences.