Reporting Lisa Petrillo
MIAMI (CBS4) – The Amazon Paiche is such a tasty fish it’s growing hard to find in South America, overfished to the point it is now on the endangered sea species list. So why can it now be found on the menus of almost a dozen South Florida restaurants?
The answer can be found down on the fish-farm.
Despite its popularity in South America, the pre-historic fish that makes it’s home in the muddy shallows of the Amazon wasn’t seen much in this country, partly because of it’s scarcity. But now it’s being marketed here by a Peruvian company which is growing the fish in captivity, like a product.
Peru’s Artisan Fish Farm found a way to grow the fish much like US fish farmers grow catfish or Tilapia, so the population can be renewed. The method is called sustainable farming, and it allows fish to be sold without damaging the population in the wild.
So far, the Paiche is available only in New York, San Francisco, and South Florida, which is said to be the Peruvian farm’s largest market. Even though they use sustainable methods, they are the only fish farm doing so, and their supply is limited.
Executive Chef Sean Brasel enjoys cooking odd gourmet food at his South Florida restaurant.
“We’re always looking for something new,” he said, “whether it’s an odd vegetable or something that’s unique to the market. To be brought a fish that’s so cost effective is good, and the flavor is amazing!”
Seafood lovers say the firm, white flesh is mercury free, and unlike other wild species such as Salmon, the fish grown in captivity may have a better taste than those caught in the wild.