Ca kho to
What is ca kho to?
Ca Kho To is fish (Ca) cooked in a clay pot (To) with sugar and coconut water until you have juicy slices and a caramelised sauce.
The dish is originally from South Vietnam, where fish are abundant thanks to the proximity of the Mekong Delta. This dish is traditionally made with ca loc, or snake-headed fish. In the West, this type of fish – which is hard to get fresh – is usually replaced by catfish or mackerel. But the recipe can be made with any type of fish.
Ca Kho To is a staple in Vietnam. It is usually eaten at home as the main meal of the day.
Did you know...
Although the clay pot is essential and is also incorporated in the name of the dish, the fish isn’t always prepared in the clay pot. In restaurants, it’s often cooked in a frying pan. The braised fish is then transferred to a clay pot for serving. The pot is sometimes even preheated to create the illusion that the dish just came off the fire.
How to make ca kho to
First, the fish is marinated in a mixture of fish sauce, sugar, garlic and onion. The fish is seared with onion and garlic in a hot clay pot (or a non-stick pan) before the ingredients for the caramel sauce – sugar, coconut water and chilli pepper – are added. The fish is braised in half an hour in the liquid, which slowly turns into a sticky sweet mass. Finish with extra fish sauce and/or sugar, spring onion, black pepper and extra red chilli pepper.
How to eat
Ca Kho To is served with a fragrant bowl of jasmine rice. You eat it with chopsticks.
This rich, salty dish becomes even better when served with a large pile of vegetables of your choice. Boiled, steamed, stir-fried or as a salad, anything goes.
Why not try?
Canh Cua is a sour fish soup also made with snake-headed fish. In the past, braised fish steaks and sour soup were served side by side as standard – the head and tail of the fish went into the soup, the body into the clay pot.