Okay, it’s clear that we’re a fan of pangasius. Next to its health benefits, the fish easily fits in every cuisine and is not that expensive compared to other whitefish. But what do consumers and fishmongers think of pangasius? We decided to discover for ourselves and visited a fish store in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands.
Cheap alternative for cod
At ‘De gezonde apotheek’ (the healthy pharmacy), you can buy every fish delicacy imaginable. However, a portion of kibbeling (fried fish) is definitively the dish that is ordered the most. The smell makes you hungry the moment you first set foot in the diner. After a kibbeling order, every client is asked the same question: ‘Would you like cod or pangasius?’ Owner Bryan Postma explains us why: “Traditionally, kibbeling is made of cod, which is a pricy fish from the North Sea. To offer a cheaper alternative to our customers, we also sell pangasius kibbeling. Some of our customers even prefer pangasius over cod. I think on average we sell around 70 kg pangasius a week.”
You probably can guess what we asked fish store owner Bryan next… Are there any differences between kibbeling of panga or cod? “Well, it all starts with appearance. The cod chunks are bigger than those of pangasius. And the two also differ in taste: cod tastes a bit fishier compared to pangasius.”
Fried fish: cod or panga?
But what do consumers think? When we bump into a local singer, Ricky van Daalen, and hear him order a portion of pangasius, we quickly push our starstruckness aside and drop the question: why did you choose panga over cod? “From the day you move out, you get to decide what you eat. Fish is part of it, right? And sometimes I choose pangasius and sometimes cod. I just enjoy both from time to time,” Ricky explains.
Cheap and easy to combine
Where some people just enjoy the taste, others have financial reasons to choose pangasius. Just like the last woman we walk into: “I don’t think the taste of cod and pangasius really differs that much. So, then I look at pricing, and pangasius is a cheaper choice. Usually when we want to eat whitefish, we go for panga because it combines well with baked sweet potato and, for example, a nice salad.”
After all that fish talk, we decided the best way to end our visit is with a big plate of pangasius kibbeling in front of us. Did you know that Dutch kibbeling is pretty similar to British fish and chips?