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Common names: Gunther’s walking catfish, broadhead catfish, Bighead catfish
Scientific name: Clarias macrocephalus
Bighead catfish is an air-breathing catfish native to Southeast Asia. Nowadays, hybrids of Asian and African catfish species are widely farmed, a practice that negatively impacts the native catfish populations in central Thailand because so many farmed catfish varieties are released into nature.
The heirloom catfish, which is smaller and has slightly less fatty meat than farmed fish, are called bplaa dook uy (ปลาดุกอุย) or bplaa dook naa (ปลาดุกนา). Catfish was always an integral part of the Siamese diet, as an inexpensive, accessible, nutritious and delicious food source that could easily be hunted in and around the rice paddies.
Catfish are not too fussy about the waters in which they swim. They can even flourish in stagnant waters and flooded rice fields. Thus, they have a slimy, scaleless skin and oily meat with a muddy aftertaste. They are most suitable for grilling, deep-frying or in curries.