Baked river cobbler fillets

My husband balks at fish when it isn’t fried. And he has passed on his bias to our daughters. Of course, it has a lot to do with how fish was cooked when he was a child. The fact that his mother had a bias in favor of fried fish should explain a lot. Maybe it is a generation thing. My own father fried fish all the time. To a crisp. It’s nice, actually, except that if the temperature of the cooking oil is not high enough, the fish absorbs a lot of oil and the fried fish tastes greasy. I mean, it really leaves a taste of cooking oil in your mouth. And I cannot stand that. Plus, there’s the fact that I hate frying because I don’t like cleaning up oil spatters.

To escape frying, I have resorted to grilling our fish, and cooking a lot of fish soups and steamed fish dishes. Then I saw an episode of Avventura in the Discovery Travel & Living Channel. This rustic restaurant innkeeper baked a whole fish with a lot of vegetables, herbs and spices. I decided to try it. This is a much simpler version of the Italian baked fish though.

This is very easy to cook, really, but final result is a very tasty and aromatic fish dish.

River cobblers have a light delicate flavor and it is best not to overpower that with too many vegetables and herbs. It is a better idea to instead highlight the fish’s delicate flavor. river cobbler fillets before baking

Pour a little olive oil on the bottom of a baking dish. Arrange the fish fillets side by side. Squeeze half a lemon over the fish fillets then top them with onion leaves cut into 2-inch lengths, finely sliced onions, crushed garlic, some basil and cilantro leaves and some lemon zest. Sprinkle with salt (herbed salt, if you have it) and ground pepper. Pour in more olive oil. Cover the baking dish with foil, leaving a corner open to allow steam to escape. Bake in a 180oC oven for 20-30 minutes. baked river cobbler fillets

So, that’s how the cooked river cobbler fillets look after baking. With dishes like this, my husband does not seem to miss fried fish. Neither do the kids. :)


  1. Becky Martin says

    River Cobbler is one of many names given to the Vietnamese Basa fish (a type of catfish from Vietnam) which is raised in the Mekong Delta (known for it’s very dirty and environmentally dangerous waters). Real Cobbler (from the south of Australia) is consumed locally, mostly in Perth. It is not plentiful, and is infrequently sold in local fish markets in southern Australia. Please be sure you are getting “real Cobbler,” however, the real thing is a delicacy, hard-to-come-by and very pricey. I would highly doubt that the discount stores (i.e. PriceMart) would be carrying the real thing. The shape of the real cobbler is much different from the Basa (or River Cobbler). The Cobbler is a catfish with an eel shaped tail and the fillets are long and very slender, unlike the River Cobbler or Basa which has fillets that are much wider (or taller), like a normal looking fish fillet. Please make sure your readers know the distinction between the two species as the fish named “River Cobbler,” actually the Basa fish has only been on the market for a short number of years.

  2. says

    Becky, I’m allowing this comment because unlike your previous ones, this is not a blatant attempt to advertise your catfish. I know that is still what it boils down to. Amazing how you can even cast Price Smart in that light just to let us all know just how right you are, huh?

    First of all, since you have not seen the whole fish from which the fillets that I cooked came from, and neither have I, you don’t know shit that they came from the Mekong Delta.

    Second, I take issue with your prejudice against anything coming from the Vietnam River. I take issue with the way you politicize fish and push forward the sales of U.S. produced fish. I especially take issue with your use of slogans like “toilet bowl”. Your country’s “anti-terror” campaign must be the scum that lives in the toilet bowl then.

    In the interest of fair play, your comment above is being allowed. And tell your husband (or is that your brother or your son) to stop polluting my comment box with praises for you. Get your own blog if you are so passionate about this issue. I will not let you use my comment box to sell your catfish.

  3. Robin Hewitt says

    Hi Connie,

    I tried River Cobbler fillet for the first time during a trip to Singapore. It was one of the best fish I’ve ever tasted. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it for sale here in the UK, which is a shame, cause it was gorgeous and I would love to cook some for my family.

    I might have to go back to Singapore and sneak some in my suitcase!!! Not sure they’ll taste very nice by the time I got back home though.

    I just wanted to let you know, that I will definitely try baking some if I ever manage to get hold of any over here.


    • martine says

      well after reading some comments i was getting worried about this smoked river cobbler i just bought, i thought you would like to know i bought it from the fresh fish counter at asda today robin, go find some, hope it what you looking for, im sure its ok to eat or asda would be in trouble by now and we would all hear about it on tv, happy eating mmmmmmm

    • Chloe says

      I bought some Vietnamese river cobbler from tesco today.. they still have it on offer atm at the fresh fish counter. Was amazed at how cheap it was. Looks lovely good quality aswell.

  4. says

    Hi Robin. I’m glad you got acquainted with river cobbler. :) Too bad for us here that Price Smart is folding up. It’s the only place where we can buy river cobbler. :sad:

  5. Mark says

    This is one of my favorite type of recipes because it tells you how to cook without insisting what should be cooked. I just did basa with onion and chopped green chiles (canned, I’m afraid, since I no longer live in New Mexico and can’t get fresh), mostly because that was what I had on hand. It worked perfectly – the fish is almost buttery and the flavor is mild but not weak. I’ll definitely cook basa again, maybe with summer squash next time.