Recipe: Cá Kho Tộ (Vietnamese Caramelized & Braised Fish)

The first time we sunk our teeth into Cá Kho Tộ, we became huge fans of this dish. The fish steaks are braised with a good load of ginger, shallots and garlic along with the fish sauce and caramel sauce, not forgetting chillies. The result is an incredibly savoury, sweet and spicy dish . Cá Kho Tộ is excellently paired with steamed rice, cucumber/salad or steamed vegetables.

Traditionally, this dish is prepared in a clay pot but if you don’t have any spare clay pots on hand you can still make this in a non-stick pan. This is such a popular dish in southern Vietnam since meat and fish were plentiful that you can easily buy a clay pot of frozen precooked Cá Kho Tộ from the supermarket then bring it home to de-frost and heat it up. Viola! Easy isn’t it?

Now, let the adventure begins….

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Serves 4 to 5 people



2 pieces of inch thick fresh red snapper/catfish/white fish of your choice

3 tablespoons of white sugar

2 tablespoons of cooking oil

3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

3 shallots (finely chopped)

3 tablespoons of julienned fresh ginger

3 tablespoons of fish sauce

1 teaspoon of ground pepper

2-3 whole red chillies



Some coriander (chopped)

Some spring onions (chopped)




Preparation of the fish:

  1. Generously salt fish and rinse under water to clean it. Set aside to dry.

Braising of the fish:

  1. Use a non-stick pan or clay pot and heat it up
  2. Add oil to the pan or clay pot and make sure is really hot.
  3. Then add sugar and wait for it to be melted till it turns into a caramel liquid.
  4. Add ginger, garlic and shallots and fry till fragrant.
  5. Add fish in a single layer.
  6. Add fish sauce and chilli.
  7. Add ¼ cup of water.
  8. Gently flip the fish over to the other side with a spatula after a minute.
  9. Cover the pot and simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes.
  10. During the simmering process, occasionally turn the fish gently with a spatula to coat both sides with the caramel sauce. Also use a spoon to spoon the sauce over the fish to ensure that it is fully coated.
  11. It is done, when the sauce is thicken and the fish steaks are covered with rich brown colour.
  12. Garnish and serve with steamy white rice and fresh slices of cucumber.


Mummy's Kitchen

Hi! My name is Josephine Go. I blog at in a segment called Mummy’s Kitchen. I love to use fresh and natural ingredients in my cooking to promote healthy eating. Some of my recipes may not be in line with the traditional methods of cooking to the extent that some of the ingredients are different, but hopefully new recipes are being created in my style. I certainly hope that what I do will help guide kitchen first-timers on how to cook their first meal as well as further equip kitchen veterans with new recipes. My loving husband and two wonderful children are my best guinea pigs and critics. They have enjoyed (or endured) the food that has been served to them for all these years. Mind you, I did not know how to cook or ever knew that I could cook till I got married. So there is hope for everyone. If I can cook, you can cook. You will not know how good or talented you are until you put your hand in the plough.

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