How to Cook Swai White Fish on the Grill

by Caryn Anderson
Grill fillets over high heat for a short time for best results.

Grill fillets over high heat for a short time for best results.

If you want to bring a touch of international flair to your dinner table, consider grilling up some swai, a Vietnamese catfish related to basa but with a slightly coarser texture. You can use swai in place of catfish in your favorite recipes and it's even sturdy enough to cook on the grill. The versatile fish boasts a mild flavor that can be complemented with a variety of seasonings. Grill it for a short time over high flames for a delectable main course.

Marinate your swai fillets for about 30 minutes before cooking them. Although this step isn’t required, it is a good way to give the mild fish extra flavor. The marinade can be as simple as a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, or you can make it more complex by adding fresh herbs or other seasonings.

Preheat your grill on high for about 10 minutes with the lid down. Meanwhile, prepare your swai fillets, either by removing them from the marinade or by rinsing the unmarinated fillets under cold water and blotting them dry.

Brush the grates of your grill with a grill brush to make sure it is free of any debris. Spray the grates with cooking spray to help keep the fish from sticking. Once you've preheated the grill, reduce the heat of the burners to medium and place the fillets on the grill.

Keep the lid open and cook the fillets for about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes on each side, until the flesh is white, opaque and flaky when tested with a fork.

Remove the swai from the grill and serve immediately, garnishing it with lime or lemon wedges.

Our Everyday Video

Brought to you by LEAFtv
Brought to you by LEAFtv

Items you will need

  • Marinade (optional)
  • Grill brush
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 spatulas
  • Fork


  • Using two large metal spatulas can make turning easy. Use one spatula to secure the fish from the top while easing the second one under the fish, separating it from the grates. Then flip the swai fillet, keeping it sandwiched between the spatulas before sliding the fillet back onto the grate.
  • Wrap the fillets in foil packets if you are worried about the fish falling apart on the grill. You can place butter or oil, herbs, seasonings and/or vegetables in the packet along with the swai before closing it up and grilling it for roughly 6 minutes, or until the fish is white and flaky.
  • Consider marinating and seasoning your swai fillets with the flavors of Southeast Asia, where the fish originates. For example, you could mix coconut milk with scallions, ginger and lemongrass for a simple marinade. Top it with chopped scallions, peanuts, shallots, cilantro or lemongrass and serve it with lime wedges as a garnish.


About the Author

Caryn Anderson combines extensive behind-the-scenes writing experience with her passion for all things food, fashion, garden and travel. Bitten by the travel bug at the age of 15 after a trip to Europe, Anderson fostered her love of style and fashion while living in New York City and earning her degree at New York University.

Photo Credits

  • Bob Scott/Photodisc/Getty Images