Ca Kho To – Vietnamese Braised Fish in Clay Pot

ca kho to, caramelized fish clay pot

Sometimes we just get tired of eating out and long for home style dishes that our moms use to make while growing up. Nothing reminds us more of our childhood memories more then ca kho to (Vietnamese Braised Fish in Clay Pot). While pho may be a special treat to eat on occassional weekends, ca kho to is a dish that families routinely eat on a regular basis. The sweet, savory and gooey goodness of the caramelized sauce of this dish is almost good enough to stand on it’s own mixed with plenty of jasmine rice.

In Vietnam, ca kho to is often cooked in a brown clay pot to retain heat and help in the caramelizing process, but this isn’t essential. We like to use our Korean stone pot, but any thick pan or dutch oven that retains heat will do just as well. Typically catfish is used, but really any variety of fish steaks can be used. Catfish is great for braising since it has a higher fat content, rendering it moist but still retaining it’s shape during the braise. Some recipes even call for braising some pork belly with the fish as well.

ca kho to

You can use premade caramel sauce, but it’s easy to make your own. All you need is sugar and water or oil.  For most recipes, you really don’t need much, about 2 tbs sugar and 2 tbs water or oil. Simply melt sugar in dry pot, stirring occasionally, then when it reaches a dark monogamy color, stop the cooking by stirring in the oil.

Braising in fresh coconut water is great and gives a subtly sweet sauce, but if it’s not available it, use canned ccoconut water or what my parents always used, coco-rico, an artificial coconut flavored soda, which honestly, wouldn’t be our first choice.

ca kho to - caramelized fish clay pot

Ca Kho To Vietnamese Braised Fish in Clay Pot

This classic braised caramelized catfish is the heart and soul of home style Vietnamese food.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Keyword: braised fish, ca kho, catfish
Servings: 4
Calories: 353kcal
Author: Hong and Kim

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 2 lb catfish steaks
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 4 tbs sugar divided
  • 1 tbs shallots minced
  • 1 tbs garlic minced
  • 2 tbs oil
  • 3 green onions sliced 1 inches long
  • 1.5 cup coconut water
  • 1-2 thai chili thinly sliced, optional
  • 1 ts Fresh cracked pepper

Instructions

  • Marinade fish with fish sauce, 2 Tb sugar, garlic, and shallots for at least min 10 min.
  • In heavy pot such as dutch oven, heat 2 tbs of sugar on medium high and stir until sugar melts and becomes dark mohogany, Immediately add the oil to stop caramelization and stir. Add the garlic and shallots and sear the fish steaks, turning once after it has browned. Add coconut water turn to med low heat. Cover pot for 3-4 minutes for fish to cook through and then remove cover to reduce the sauce to about 1/2. Season to taste, with fish sauce or sugar if needed. Add optional chili and stir into the sauce. Finish with fresh cracked pepper, green onions. Serve immediately with white rice.

Notes

Choose a meaty fish steak such as catfish, king mackerel, tuna, or salmon. Directions are for making caramel sauce, but can be skipped if using premade-just add after searing the fish and just before the coconut water.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 353kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 132mg | Sodium: 901mg | Potassium: 1088mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 203IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Share it with us on Instagram @ravenouscouple !

Ca Kho To Vietnamese Braised Fish in Clay Pot

choose a meaty fish steak such as catfish, king mackerel, tuna, or salmon. Directions are for making caramel sauce, but can be skipped if using premade-just add after searing the fish and just before the coconut water.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Keyword: braised fish, seafood
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 284kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fish steaks catfish or other meaty fish
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 4 tbs sugar divided
  • 2 tbs minced shallots
  • 2 tbs minced garlic
  • 2 tbs cooking oil
  • 3 green onions sliced 1 inches long
  • 1.5 cup young coconut water
  • 1-2 thai chili thinly sliced, optional
  • Fresh pepper

Instructions

  • Marinade fish with fish sauce, 2 Tb sugar, garlic, and shallots for min 10 min.
  • In heavy pot such as dutch oven, heat 2 tbs of sugar on medium high and stir until sugar melts and becomes dark mohogany, immediately add the oil to stop caramelization and stir. Sear the fish steaks, turning once after it has browned. Add coconut water turn to med low heat to braise. Cover pot for 3-4 minutes for fish to cook through and then remove cover to reduce the sauce to about 1/2. Season to taste, with fish sauce or sugar if needed. Add optional chili and stir into the sauce. Finish with fresh cracked pepper, green onions. Serve immediately with white rice.

Nutrition

Calories: 284kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 801mg | Potassium: 541mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 226IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Share it with us on Instagram @ravenouscouple !

guest
116 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments