Swai is a species native to the rivers of Southeast Asia, also known as iridescent shark. It’s not a shark, but rather a catfish. It is found in the Mekong basin as well as the Chao Phraya River, and is heavily cultivated for food there. The meat is often marketed under the common name swai.
Sold cheaply the United States, it has a milder flavor and more delicate texture than our native catfish. with a moist, sweet, mild flavored flesh. The meat is beige color when raw, and turns white after cooking. In the U.S. it is often sold as frozen skin-off fillets weighing from 2 oz to 11 oz each.
In my opinion it’s similar to Tilapia, but more flavorful.
Here’s a simple, inexpensive, and delicious meal for my fellow fish fanciers…
Traeger Smoked Honey Swai or Tilapia
2-3 lbs. swai or tilapia fillets
½ – ¾ cup honey*
4 cups water
¼ cup sea salt
2/3 cup brown sugar
Apple or alder Traeger pellets
*I used Manuka honey, which I brought home from last years International Food Bloggers Conference. It is, by far, the best honey I’ve ever had, my favorite to cook with, and its rich earthiness was absolutely amazing with this fish.
Mise en Place
Thaw and rinse the fillets.
For brine: Combine water, sea salt, and brown sugar. Whisk to dissolve and pour over fish fillets (I put it all in a gallon zip bag) and brine for 1 hour.
Set Traeger to “smoke” and preheat.
Remove fish from brine, rinse in cold water and pat dry, and then generously glaze each fillet with honey (top side only.) Sprinkle with pepper, granulated garlic, and cayenne to taste.
Loaded fillets into Traeger, directly on the grill.
Smoke 20 minutes, then change heat setting to 225F, and cook another 40 minutes. DO NOT PEEK! Remove swai from Traeger and serve.
I like to place mine directly over a bed of white rice, and let rest for about 10 minutes, so the juices from the fish seep into the rice, then serve with a steamed veggie. See top picture.
The leftover swai (assuming you have any) is great the next morning, chopped and scrambled with eggs and white onions, and served with hot white-corn tortillas!