Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cá Kho Tộ – Vietnamese Braised Fish in Claypot

This dish is one close to my heart. It goes amazingly well with Canh Chua.

The traditional dish uses catfish steaks, bone and skin on. My version uses catfish fillets. It cuts of a lot of the fat and keeps those pesky bones away. Although I'll admit, catfish bones aren't as bad to rid of as some other fish bones. Also, if you do not have a clay pot, you can use a normal pot, but a clay pot is highly recommended here.

Cá Kho Tộ – Vietnamese Braised Fish in Claypot
Savor. Devour.

Serves 4 people


  • 3 large catfish filets (or 4 small-medium ones)
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp minced shallots
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 4 green onion stems, sliced 1 inches long
  • 1 can of young coconut juice
  • For dark caramel sauce: 2 tbsp sugar and ¼ cup water
  • Optional: 2 Thai chilies, thinly sliced


  • Wash and pat dry the fish filets. Marinade with fish sauce, sugar, pepper, garlic, and shallots for at least ½ an hour.
  • In a clay pot on medium-high heat, add the sugar and water for the caramel sauce. Stir and let simmer for 6 minutes until the sugar melts and the sauce thickens and turn dark brown. Be careful to not let it burn.
  • Add in 1 tsp of oil and the marinated fish. Allow it to sear for a minute to absorb the caramel sauce and turn it for the other side to do the same for one minute.
  • Add the coconut juice until it is at the same level as the fish filets. Mix the caramel sauce and the coconut juice until it homogenizes. Cover and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook for 30 minutes, checking at 15 minutes to make sure the juice isn’t running too low. Add more coconut juice and stir if needed. Notice that the fish will turn brown and the sauce will become more viscous.
  • Add the green onions and chili peppers (optional, I usually put enough black pepper in that I don’t need this). Let simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Serve with rice and Canh Chua.

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