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. :)

  • Becky Martin

    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.

  • http://homecookingrocks.com Connie

    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.

  • Robin Hewitt

    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.

    Regards,
    Robin

    • martine

      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

      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.

      • Connie

        They’re very mild tasting. It’s the texture that’s really wonderful. :)

  • http://homecookingrocks.com Connie

    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:

  • Mark

    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.

  • http://none Malc

    Yesterday I noticed that our Tesco shop was selling Vietnamese River Fish (Basa), so always wanting to try something different I decided to buy some. I then turned to the web for a recipe and decided to give yours a go Connie. Apart from a small variation (I used chives instead of onion tops) everything else was the same. My wife and I were very impressed. The fish flavour was subtle and delicious. The texture and succulence were excellent. I accompanied the fish with sliced potatoes and onions steamed in foil with a mixture of milk and creme fraiche and a sprinkle of black pepper (for 40 minutes) and steamed purple sprouting brocoli. Wonderful and thanks for your recipe.

    As for the Catfish issue, the Americans love globalisation (Coca Cola, Starbucks, MacDonalds etc.) as long as they don’t get any global competition back. If they do they usually employ hefty import duties to stop fair global trade.

  • http://homecookingrocks.com Connie

    Mark, I think you’re the first to make a distinction between the how and the what. And I thank you for noticing. :)

    Malc, re globalization. You took the words out of my mouth. :)

  • alby Barratt

    just tried vietnamese river cobbler for the first time got it from tescos .really enjoyed it just covered it in breadcrumbs then shallow fried it . keen to try some new recipes for this fish , a bit concerned about it being from a polluted river (last comment) oh well it tasted ok . alby uk

  • Bob

    Lidl have river Cobbler in from tomorrow, (19/11/07) at £1.49 for 259g. Also they have Barramundi, Red Snapper, grouper fillet, Grunt, Triggerfish, painted Sweetlips and Cape hake. No idea what most of them are, but it’s going to be fun finding out!

  • Karen

    Smoked Cobbler is our favourite fish at the moment, much more subtle than smoked haddock or smoked cod.

    And as for it coming from a polluted river, well, this country is no better than any other when it comes to pollution so, to hell with it, if thats what ‘polluted fish’ tastes like then I am all for it!

    Thanks for the hint Bob (above), I will go to Lidl tomorrow and fill my freezer, (not sure about painted sweetlips though)!

  • Sammy

    Tried this fish today after the fish monger at Tescos pushed it hard. I was hesitant but : nothing ventured nothing gained. So anyway we had home made fish n chips and ill tell you it was he tastiest fish ever. The people talking about polluted rivers may have hidden agendas and as the lady before said ” if polluted fish ” tastes do good then Im also all for it.

  • Colin

    My wife and I love to eat smoked Cod but they were all out of it in our local Tesco Store in Selby North Yorkshire.We liked the look of theGrobbler on display in the ice and decided to try it.
    What a nice testing fish,with the added surprise that it does’nt repeat on you as the cod always seems to do.We will most definately be eating this fish from now on!Ho did I mention that it is also very cheep much better value than cod.

  • Lesley

    Hi Connie,
    Hi Robin,
    Just to let you know that Tesco is selling River Cobbler as I bought some today and found your site whilst trying to find out the best way to cook it.

  • HASANEN AL-TAIAR

    HELLO
    CAN YOU ADVISE ME ON HOW TO PREPARE A DELICIOUS RECEIPE FROM SMOKED RIVER COBBLER?
    I ADORE FISH

  • http://none Sarah

    Fish purchased from Tesco again for me. Baked it in a large tin in the oven with fresh asparagus and baby potatoes and olive oil drizzled over the top, salt, pepper and a few lemon slices. Not very Asian, but very tasty. Husband loves it, and it doesn’t fall apart like cod when you plate it up (fish that is, not husband). I’m trying it again tonight as traditional ‘fish & chips’

  • John Cadd

    One thing you all forgot to mention about River Cobbler –no bones.I don`t know if I was just lucky that day.I got mine from Asda .Nice white fish (just like Cod to look at )but a nicer delicate flavour.(I call it a feminine flavour).
    –Picture the scene–Connie to Becky- “You and me –OUTSIDE ! NOW!!!”
    I`ll hold your coat. Love it.

  • Joe Cross

    What is introduced as Cobbler in the Philippines is actually the Mekong Catfish which has found a new home in the Philippines. The fish takes well to cultivation but the appearance of the whole fish has not elicited as good a response as the fillets which are imported finished and frozen. You’ll see this situation at the Makro fish section where the whole fish and the fillets are displayed but buyers make for the fish freezers. I have discovered that when filleted, the meat is pleasant and has no strong aftertaste. The whole fish however, even dressed, is not so pleasant. Even my cat does not like it.

    • http://www.homecookingrocks.com Connie

      Seller should learn to fillet them first before selling. :)

  • darkmavis

    I made river cobble today – just baked it with some peppers, thyme and breadcrumbs on top. It was really lovely, nice texture that stayed moist but firm, good delicate taste, and good value for money. Also it had no bones in it, which pleases me lots! I would definitely cook this again and recommend it to all of you. It was really easy to cook.

    The first person who posted the nasty comments, should try not to believe all the alarmist crap she reads on the internet. There are a lot of horror stories on the net about river cobbler in France. However, in the UK, Watchdog (consumer affairs TV show) had some river cobbler tested and couldn’t find any of the alleged pollutants in the fish. It is perfectly safe to eat, and doesn’t necessarily come from the mekong delta (for those of you worried about ‘food miles’) – apparently Asda’s are from Surrey, which is considerably more local to me than Vietnam (shame the food is so much less interesting).

    So anyway, try this recipe!

    BTW, thank you for this website, you’ve got some brilliant recipes & yummy-looking pictures here and you’ve inspired me to try a whole lot of new things :-)

  • scott

    Very interesting, River Cobbler- £ 2.00 for two nice size fillets from tesco’s today. I am a little skeptical about the outcome but I will let you know once I have cooked it. The fillets I have are smoked and have about 2.5 grammes of salt in each one, quite heavy!!! in fact very heavy…… talk soon

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  • pinkgiraffesocks

    I tried this fish for the first time today, my mum bought it yesterday as it’s quite good value for money, 600g for £5 at asda and its firm and meaty. I chopped it up into small bitesize pieces then made a tempura batter and dipped it in and fried it, not as healthy as baking but good alternative to a thick batter. it was really tasty with lemon wedges or soya sauce dip. Nice fish!

  • daisymay

    hi i tried basa about 2 months ago and have some in my freezer now i think its a lovely fish was looking for some recipes and now got worried what all this about and what do i believe confused
    daisy

  • Jenice

    Thank you very much fir your lovely site and recipes.
    I buy my river cobbler from Asda, it’s so much cheaper than Haddock or Cod and as someone else mentioned NO BONES :)

  • Ruth

    Thanks for this recipe I will try it later on in the week.
    I just wanted to say that I have been eating River Cobbler for about 4 years now and can honestly say it is my favourite fish of all time.
    I cook it creamy with mushrooms, onions, peppers parsley for a subtle dish, but also cook it with mediterranean vegetables, chillis and capers covered in pasatta for a stronger flavour. Never a failure and always stays intact and bone free!!

  • http://theartisttonyrose.blogspot/simplefood Tony Rose

    I have been eating River Cobbler smoked and unsmoked twice a week for the last 5 years, I love it. I have lots of recipes for it on my blog, its very popular.