Swai Fish is cooked in a lemon butter garlic sauce with fresh ginger and capers. It makes an excellent quick dinner entree as it only takes under 30 minutes from start to finish. It is highly versatile and quite affordable as well!
This is a budget-friendly recipe that is perfect for a light and quick dinner. Because the fish flavor is neutral, you can dress it up in your favorite sauce or marinade. To keep it healthy and filling, serve it with Air Fryer Roasted Asparagus or Sauteed Cabbage. This meal is such a time-saver, and it’s great since it pairs so well with many appetizers and dishes. Make sure to check our other fish recipes, there is plenty to choose something for every taste and budget.
Since the fish flavor is very mild and neutral, it reminds me of tilapia, you can play with the other ingredients to add more flavor. I enjoy my filets cook in a buttery sauce, that has been flavored with fresh lemon, fresh garlic, and ginger. Using fresh ingredients is key, as it enhances the flavors of the dish.
What we like about this type of fish is that it is not fishy at all. It is lean and holds up pretty well as you cook it. In addition, it absorbs the flavors in which it is cooked easily, so you can make numerous recipes with it. If you are looking for a quick, delicious, and budget-friendly dinner, then this swai fish recipe is the way to go!
The baked swai fillet is tender, buttery, filled with citrus flavor, and made in one pan for your convenience.
What is swai fish?
Sometimes called Basa or Pangasius, it has white flesh and strives in freshwater just like tilapia but with a milder flavor. The majority of the country’s supply comes from the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. It is a naturally neutral flavor which makes it an ideal dinner dish.
Also, it is quite inexpensive, considering that it hails all the way from Asia. With that said, you will mostly find it as frozen fillets and individually packed. Also, you can use it readily with almost zero preparation.
- Swai fish fillets
- Salt and pepper
- Vegetable oil
For the Garlic Butter Sauce:
- Unsalted butter
- Fresh garlic
- Fresh ginger
- Fresh lemon juice
- Red pepper flakes
- Fresh chopped parsley
How to cook swai fish?
There are many ways on how to cook, and some of our favorite ways are to pan-fry and bake it. The important thing is to be able to reach 145 degrees of internal temperature when cooking this swai dish. This is to kill any bacteria that it may have. Also, before cooking it, make sure to rinse the swai well under cold water, and after that dry it with paper towels.
- Prepare the fish fillets: First, rinse them under cold water, and after that place them on a plate lined with paper towels. Also, use some paper towels to pat them dry.
- Cook: Next, place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot start frying swai fish fillets for a few minutes on each side until lightly browned. Remove the pan-fried fillets and place them on a plate.
- Make the sauce: After that add to the pan the butter and melt it. Afterward add the garlic and ginger to the melted butter, cook for a few minutes. Next, add the capers, lemon juice, parsley, and red pepper flakes. Stir and bring the sauce to a light boil, remove from heat.
- Add back the fillets: Finally, add back the fillets into the pan and spoon the sauce on top of them.
- Serve: Now serve the dish immediately, with freshly chopped parsley, lemon wedges, and a side dish of your choice.
- Baked Sway fillets: Alternately, you can use the same set of ingredients but instead of frying it, you can bake it. To bake Swai fish, simply put the fillets in a casserole dish and bake them in the oven preheated at 400 degrees. Do not forget to spray some cooking spray first. Prepare the sauce the same way and pour over the fillets. Bake further until the flesh comes off easily. This should be done in about 20 minutes.
- Crispy: Follow this Crispy Baked Tilapia recipe to make a crisp shell on it.
- Change the sauce: Since this is such an easy swai recipe after you pan fry the Swai, we recommend trying to cook it into one of these Asian Sauces: Orange Sauce, General Tso Sauce, Sweet, and Sour Sauce, Szechuan Style Sauce.
- Spicier: Also, make this dish spicier by adding more red pepper flakes and some hot sauce.
- Citrus: Use lime or oranges instead of lemon.
- Marinate: Actually, marinating is great because it gives some time for the flavors to properly absorb and reflect in the final dish. So if you have some extra time, feel free to marinate it, and just grill or cook it after. Let it sit in the marinade for about 30 minutes or more but not exceeding one whole day. Use a mix of olive oil, soy sauce, white wine, lemon juice, honey, and seasoning to make the marinade.
- Grill: After marinating it, instead of baking or frying, grill the fillets and brush with the marinade occasionally. Once done, boil the remaining marinade for about a minute and serve as the sauce.
How to serve it:
- Choose a side dish, we recommend this Oven Roasted Potatoes, Smashed Potatoes, Grilled Eggplant, or Grilled Peaches.
- Also, add a salad on the side, this Cucumber Salad is flavorful and refreshing. Or serve it with a Classic Caesar Salad.
- Top it with freshly chopped parsley, chives, or green onions.
- Make sure to add a refreshing beverage like this Mango Lemonade on the side.
- Actually, add some Soft Dinner Rolls on the side to dip into the buttery sauce.
How to store leftovers:
- Store: If you have leftovers, first let them cool, and after that add them to an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Freeze: However, if you prefer to freeze this dish, let it cool first and wrap in plastic wrap, after that in foil and add it to a freezer-safe Ziploc bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Defrost: To thaw transfer it to the fridge and let it stand overnight. Reheat and serve.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Are swai fillets healthy?
It does not have high levels of omega-3 fat and protein, unlike many other species. But it does have high levels of niacin, vitamin B12, and selenium depending on how it was fed. Also, it is high in lean protein, making it a great option for a filling dinner.
Is it a clean fish?
While this white fish is an inexpensive and budget-friendly seafood option, many people believe that the meat is contaminated and dangerous to it. If grown in an environment contaminated with chemicals and injected with hormones, obviously the meat will absorb them and become toxic to consumers. Therefore, when choosing Swai, make sure it is from reliable farms, that utilize clean rivers and ponds.
Is it the same as Tilapia?
While when cooked both fish is white, tender, and flaky with a neutral taste, Tilapia tends to be fattier. Also, it may have some darker bits to the flesh.
Swai comes from Southeast Asia and gets shipped frozen to the States, whereas tilapia gets caught and raised all over the world. Actually, both make great options for fried fish cookouts.
More Seafood Recipes:
- Like with any fish, try using the best quality. To ensure that you are buying the fish raised with the water quality of the pond in mind, look for those certified by groups like the Aquaculture Stewardship Council.
- Also, this recipe works great with other freshwater species as an alternative to it like the American catfish or Pacific cod.
- Alternatively, this is a great recipe to use on tacos or enchiladas.
- If you have any leftover, store it tightly in a container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Lemon Garlic Butter Swai Fish
- 2 fillets Swai fish
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Garlic Butter Sauce:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger root
- 1 tablespoon capers
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Italian parsley (chopped)
Prep the fish:
- Rinse the swai fish fillets with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides with salt and ground black pepper.
- Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and wait for it to start sizzling. Pan-fry the fillets, about 1-2 minutes per side, or until light brown. Transfer to a plate.
Make the Sauce:
- To the same pan, and the butter and melt it, then add garlic and ginger, stir and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add capers, lemon juice, parsley, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. As soon as the sauce starts to bubble, turn off the heat.
Combine and Serve:
- Return the fish to the pan with the sauce and drizzle it on top with a spoon, garnish with lemon wedges and parsley.
- Serve immediately.