Ca Kho To- Vietnamese Caramelized Fish

Vietnamese Caramelized Fish

I’ve got the enviable problem of trying to figure out what to do with a weekly delivery from my very favorite fish market.   There are the usual solutions: poke or ceviche of some sort; a comforting rice bowl with fish and furikake, or fish tacos (a summertime favorite).

But lately I’ve been longing for Vietnamese food.  Although I spent all of last summer trying different Vietnamese dishes, I failed to make Vietnamese Caramelized fish.  Now you guys know I’m a huge fan of claypot cooking.  It’s worked its magic on any sort of protein I’ve thrown at it (see these pork and chicken recipes for evidence), quickly coating it with a sticky and intensely flavored sauce that’s spicy, salty and sweet.

Vietnamese Caramelized Fish 2

And fish was no exception.  I always think of Vietnamese claypot dishes as healthier, more flavorful versions of General Tso’s.   If you’re a fan of the American-Chinese dish, then you’re really, really going to want to try this one.

And you’ll have to excuse the dark, grainy photos this week.  Although Flossie rolled through without any major fanfare (around these parts anyways…), she did manage to make the afternoon skies excessively dark, leaving me with only two mediocre photos barely adequate for posting.  But the recipe was just too good not to share, so I’m rolling with the punches rather than doing a re-shoot.


Ca Kho To- Vietnamese Caramelized Fish

Yield: 2-3 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


* 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, grated (peeled, frozen ginger is easy to grate)
* 2-3 small shallots, minced (about 3/4 cup)
* 1-3 Thai chiles (depending on your heat tolerance/preference), thinly sliced
* 3 Tablespoons fish sauce
* 2 Tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
* 1 Tablespoon sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/4 cup water
* approx 1 pound thick fish filet of your choice
* 6-8 green onions, sliced on the diagonal into approx 1/2-inch lengths


Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, shallots and Thai chiles. Cook for several minutes, until softened.

Combine the fish sauce, both sugars and black pepper in a small bowl and stir to mix. Pour into the skillet and stir to coat. Bring to a boil for a minute or two and then add the water. Adjust heat to a low simmer for a minute or two. Gently place the fish filets in the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes. Carefully flip cover the fish and cook for a couple additional minutes, until the sauce is thick and the fish is just cooked through. Sprinkle on the green onions.

Remove from heat and serve with rice.

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3 Responses to “Ca Kho To- Vietnamese Caramelized Fish”

  1. #
    Eileen — August 3, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    This fish sounds so amazing & super easy! It almost makes me wish I hadn’t already eaten dinner tonight, so I could go make some right now. :)


  2. #
    Abbe@This is How I Cook — September 20, 2013 at 4:39 am

    Thanks for giving me dinner tonight. This looks great!


    • Cate — September 20th, 2013 @ 6:41 am

      Hope you like it Abbe!


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