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:
- Generously salt fish and rinse under water to clean it. Set aside to dry.
Braising of the fish:
- Use a non-stick pan or clay pot and heat it up
- Add oil to the pan or clay pot and make sure is really hot.
- Then add sugar and wait for it to be melted till it turns into a caramel liquid.
- Add ginger, garlic and shallots and fry till fragrant.
- Add fish in a single layer.
- Add fish sauce and chilli.
- Add ¼ cup of water.
- Gently flip the fish over to the other side with a spatula after a minute.
- Cover the pot and simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes.
- 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.
- It is done, when the sauce is thicken and the fish steaks are covered with rich brown colour.
- Garnish and serve with steamy white rice and fresh slices of cucumber.