Pacu Fish Ribs

Native to South America, pacu are not one but actually several varieties of fish belonging to the same family as the piranha. In the food world, however, pacu are the family jewels. The taste of farmed pacu has been compared to tilapia and rainbow trout. It is said to pair well with apples, onions, plums, nuts, and cherries. Pacu are omnivores and grow quickly, making them a most sustainable food fish, which is why fish farmers and chefs from Argentina to Sweden and all across the U.S. are nuts about this fish that Teddy Roosevelt once described as "deep-bodied" and "delicious".

The spunky pacu are prized game fish and can be caught with a couple of danglers. Their toothy grins and bitey incisors also make them a prize of the world's aquariums. What's that you say? How do you cook this jewel of the water? Keep your pants on, friends! Just look below!

Pacu Fish Ribs with Citrus BBQ Sauce*
(Serves 2)

Citrus BBQ sauce

1 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 cups ketchup
2 cups white wine
2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cups water

Whisk all the ingredients together in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by about half or to desired thickness, about 1 hour.


12 oz pacu ribs
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups citrus BBQ sauce (see above)
Salt and pepper

Stop screaming. Carefully remove pacu from genitalia and clean. Heat a skillet, add olive oil. Sear pacu skin down for 1 minute, turn, add 1 C BBQ sauce on top and place it in oven for about 5 minutes.
Slice fish into ribs, add rest of BBQ sauce.

*This recipe is adapted for two, and a few gags, from what looks to be a lovely recipe by Chef Vania Almeida that can be found here.

Really. Pacu are not scrotum-gobbling menaces as certain news stories may have lead you to believe. Bitey incisors aside, they are lovely, tasty fish and should be eaten with respect, coleslaw, and fries.


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