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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



  • 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


  • 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.


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.


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
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