What is Paiche?
Paiche has been on the market for a few years now, and if you haven’t tried it yet you’re in for a treat. Paiche (pronounced pie-CHEE) is not only a versatile and absolutely delicious fish to cook at home, and it’s also got a great back story.
Paiche hails from South America’s Amazon River basin and is one of the world’s largest freshwater fish, growing up to several hundreds of pounds. Although wild stocks were depleted due to overfishing, advances in sustainable fish farming has come to the rescue: Farmed paiche is now taking pressure off populations in the wild and also bringing economic support to remote villages.
All that, and wonderful cooking qualities: I think my favorite thing about paiche is its unique texture. This fillet is firm and terrifically sliceable while staying succulent, akin to more expensive fillets like swordfish or Chilean sea bass. It stays moist and firm making it close to foolproof even for novice cooks. And its flavor is also a revelation: Although it’s often described mild, I find it rich with a lingering sweetness that reminds me of lobster.
Intrigued? The best news is that you can prepare paiche with a terrific number of cooking techniques and flavor profiles. Dive into these excellent recipes for inspiration.
Paiche is an ideal fish for high-heat roasting since it resists drying out better than just about any fish on the market. Its succulence also means you don’t have to use a lot of fat to keep it moist, a great health benefit that’s taken advantage of in these super-flavorful recipes:
Searing and Grilling
One of the real treats about cooking with paiche is how well it sears, forming an irresistible golden, caramelized crust thanks to a concentration of collagen in the flesh. Its great texture also means it doesn’t flake apart, making it easy to flip in a hot pan or on the grill. These veggie-packed recipes are a great introduction to quick-cooking the fish:
Braising and Steaming
Moist heat is also ideal for paiche. Unlike a lot of other fish varieties, paiche’s firm texture means it won’t break apart during steaming or braising; instead you’ll find yourself with wonderful pieces of succulent, fork-tender fish in your dishes. Here are some terrific examples:
Have you tried paiche? Let us know what you think!