Saturday, August 20, 2005

Ca Kho To (Fish simmered in caramel sauce)

This is a vietnamese dish that is being served in almost all vietnamese restaurant. I did not have a chance to try this dish when I visited the place a few weeks ago but had the opportunity to smell this great tasting dish (my colleague ordered this dish while I was enjoying my shrimp *LOL*) I totally forgot about this dish until a member of KC posted the recipe and I went "wow, this is great !!" =D I just had to try it as it brought back memories of that wonderful aroma.

This dish is usually served in a claypot but you can cook with any thick based pot that you have. My end product looks far from what is being served in those vietnamese restaurant but taste wise is yummy. This is generally a child friendly dish because there is no chillI/peppers, but you can add it if you like. My daughters and myself love this dish.


I used the recipe shared by Thu from KC but modified it slightly. This recipe uses caramel sauce that was prepared earlier but you don't need to do that. The only difference is to make the caramel sauce then add the other other ingredients. You can refer to the caramel sauce method for reference.


3 fish fillet, cut in thirds
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, sliced/julliene
1 lemongrass, sliced thinly
3 tbsp water or chicken stock
2 green onions/spring onions, chopped
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp caramel sauce (recipe below)
2 tsp light soya sauce
salt & black pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil


1. Heat vegetable oil in a clay pot or medium fry pan over moderate heat
2. Add minced garlic and chopped shallot. Stir until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes then add lemongrass slices
3. Add catfish pieces and cook until they turn almost white, for about 2 minutes
4. Add caramel sauce, fish sauce and soya sauce and gently stir for 1 more minute, until the fish has slightly caramelized for about 12 to 15 minutes. You can simmer it longer if you want a drier version
5. Remove from the heat and garnish with thinly sliced green onions and ground black pepper
6. Serve hot with steamed rice


Caramel Sauce
1/2 - 1 cup sugar
some boiling water

Preparation for the Caramel Sauce:

1. Warm up a pale coloured pan/pot gently for about 1-2 mins
2. Pour sugar into the warm pan
3. Leave the sugar until it begins to melt (do no stir)
4. Once the sugar starts to melt, you will see the colour slowly changes to brown
5. Twirl the pan to ensure that all the sugar are melted evenly
6. Use a wooden spoon and stir until the sugar is totally melted and resembles dark runny honey 7. Take the pot off the heat and gradually add boiling water and keep stirring (you have to be careful here because there could be some splutter)
8. You may want to return the pot back to a gentle heat to re-melt lumps of caramel that have formed.
9. Once the caramel is smooth, turn off the fire and leave it to cool before keeping in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator.

1 comment:

FooDcrazEE said...

Its a different method. Try this

1 1/2 lbs catfish or red snapper fillets, cut up into about 4 inch pieces
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce (preferably Three Crabs Brand)
4 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chili peppers
2 slices ginger, julliened
ground black pepper

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, cook the sugar over low to medium heat, swirling the pan constantly, until brown and caramelized.
Remove pan from heat and stir the fish sauce into the caramel.
It will smoke slightly.
Return the pan to low heat and gently boil for about couple minutes while stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Stir in the shallots, chili and ginger.
Add the fish in the caramel sauce and sprinkle with black pepper.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan.
Simmer for 30-45 minutes, turning the fish occasionally and carefully.
Serve with rice.