Ca Kho To is a Vietnamese caramelized fish stew cooked in a clay pot to perfection

Ca Kho To: Vietnamese Braised Fish




Yield 4 people



Caramel (Optional)

For Clay Pot


Stage 1 - Marinate the Fish

  1. Before marinating, start by salting your fish filet and letting sit for 3-5 minutes as you prepare your marinade
  2. In a medium sized bowl, combine your garlic, shallots, scallions, chili pepper and fish sauce. Mix well
  3. Next, add your coconut sugar into the bowl and mix well again
  4. With your marinade made, rinse your fish filets from the salt under running water. Then, add your fish filets into your bowl of marinade. Work the marinate well into the fish (it’s best to use your hands) and place in the fridge for at least 30 mins

Stage 2 - Create Caramel (optional)

  1. In a small pot, add your coconut sugar and (coconut) water over high heat. As you bring the pot to a boil, slowly jostle the pot to move the sugar around
  2. Once the water starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium and let the liquid and sugar boil for at least 7-10 minutes. During this time, the sugar will dissolve into a further reducing liquid, creating your caramel. Don’t forget to continue jostling the pot around in order to keep any part of the caramel from sticking to the pot
  3. When you’ve created your caramel, take the pot off the heat and set aside until the next stage

Stage 3 - Create Your Ca Kho To

  1. Before beginning, start by taking out your marinating fish filets and have your caramel made nearby
  2. In either a clay pot or wok or small stockpot, begin by taking the pot over medium-high heat and adding your oil
  3. When the oil is nice and sizzling hot, add your garlic and shallots before stirring around. Sauté for several minutes as they start to brown and become fragrant
  4. Next, take your fish filet and layer directly over the shallots and garlic. Do not, however, stir or mix
  5. Once you’ve layered all your filets of fish, pour your leftover fish marinade, soy sauce and coconut water over the fish. Ideally, you should be able to submerge all your fish in this liquid, but feel free to add a bit of water in case you fall a little short. And remember, do not stir! Let everything be as it is
  6. Finally, sprinkle your chili pepper, ground black pepper and caramel over everything else, then let sit and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes
  7. After 15 minutes, very carefully and judiciously flip as many pieces of the fish filet as you can (without breaking it), and simmer for another 10 minutes

By the end of these next 10 minutes, take the pot off the heat and serve your Ca Kho To with freshly steamed rice. Enjoy!

Courses Main

Cuisine Vietnamese

Recipe by Arousing Appetites: Home to the Serious Cook at