The pangasius, an emerging fish species
Its consumption is increasing, it’s the great protagonist of low cost catering, convenient and versatile in the kitchen. It is bred in Vietnam in the Mekong basin. The INRAN undertook a comprehensive monitoring on the chemical and nutritional aspects of this fish. Compared to national aquaculturespecies, pangasius fillets have a lower nutritional value.
The pangasius (Pangasius hypophtalmus) won overwhelmingly the market, supplanting even the Nile perch (Lates niloticus) and other fish species in our emerging markets, creating competition with the national aquaculture species. Russia and the European Union in 2006, constituted two-thirds of Vietnamese exports of this species (FAO Globefish 2006; Globefish FAO 2005) and in Italy, its use is increasing (Ismea 2006), as this fish is now one of the protagonists of sea food consumption (in school and corporate canteens, ..) for its low cost, its practicality and versatility in the kitchen.
The Pangasius, freshwater fish of the catfish family, raised in Vietnam, especially in the Mekong River basin, is sold in the markets and supermarkets, filleted without spines, with a variable weight (120-250 grams), thawed or frozen and iced, sold in bulk or in bags of 1 kg (containing threads of the same size). This fish is often treated with the addition of E 451, i.e. sodium or potassium tripolyphosphate, (as it is written on the label) in order to retain water, especially when thawing.
As part of its work of study of the quality of food fish species, the INRAN has carried out an extensive monitoring on Pangasius fillets, thawed and sold as fresh or frozen, in different supermarkets and retail shops of frozen products and frozen foods.
The results of the chemical and nutritional composition showed a high water content (from 80 to 85 g/100 g), a protein content (13-15/100 g) slightly below the most consumed fish species, a small fat content (1.1-3.0 g/100 g) and a variable sodium content which is quite high, perhaps due to the sodium tripolyphosphate (E 451), added during the processing to increase the water retention of the protein and improve its quality and consistency. The magnesium levels were rather lower than those of other fish species.
The lipid content is characterized by a lipid fatty acid composition in which the predominant saturated fatty acids are saturated (41.1-47.8% of total fatty acids). These, if consumed in excess, are linked with cardiovascular disease, while the polyunsaturated n-series 3 (or omega 3) are contained in small quantities (2.6-6.7% of total fatty acids). The latter is of extreme importance, because the consumption of fish is particularly important for the supply of n-3 fatty acids. That is why it is also used in school canteen menus, as they have to provide a fish dish 2 times a week. The Pangasius, compared to national aquaculture species and most fish species traditionally consumed has a lower nutritional value.
The pangasius’ meat is light pink or white, with a poor taste, sometimes depending on the origin of mud and no “fish smell”. Cooked fillets retain a firm texture.
For a non-expert consumer it is difficult to recognize if its threads are sometimes disguised as trade or cod fillet of gurnard.
Regarding its safe use, both levels of mercury than those of organochlorine pesticides and policloribifenilis (PCBs) found in the samples examined so far were very low.