Cá Kho Tộ (Caramelized Fish in Clay Pot)


Dive into the heart of Vietnamese cuisine with Cá Kho Tộ (Caramelized Fish in Clay Pot), a beloved traditional dish that features fish caramelized in a rich, sweet, and savory sauce, all simmered to perfection in a clay pot. This dish reflects the balance and depth of Vietnamese cooking, offering a harmonious blend of flavors that is both comforting and indulgent.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Resting Time: N/A
Total Time: 1 hour
Serving: 4


  • 2 lbs catfish steaks, cleaned and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup caramel sauce (can be made with sugar and water)
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-2 red chili peppers, sliced (optional for heat)
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish


  1. Prepare the Fish:
    • Marinate the catfish steaks with fish sauce, caramel sauce, sugar, minced garlic, and ginger. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes to absorb the flavors.
  2. Caramelize the Shallots:
    • In a clay pot over medium heat, sauté shallots in a little oil until they become translucent and fragrant.
  3. Cook the Fish:
    • Add the marinated fish to the pot along with all the marinade. Pour in the coconut water and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and let cook for about 30-40 minutes, occasionally basting the fish with the sauce, until the fish is tender and the sauce has thickened.
  4. Final Touches:
    • Once done, sprinkle with black pepper, green onions, and red chili peppers. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
  5. Serve:
    • Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve hot with steamed rice.


  • The key to this dish is the balance between sweetness and saltiness, so adjust the sugar and fish sauce according to your taste.
  • For an authentic experience, use a traditional Vietnamese clay pot, but a regular saucepan can work if a clay pot is not available.
  • The caramel sauce gives the dish its signature color and sweetness; it can be bought pre-made or prepared at home by caramelizing sugar.

Nutritional Information per Serving (Based on USDA Guidelines):

  • Calories: 350 kcal
  • Protein: 35g
  • Carbohydrates: 15g
  • Fat: 15g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sodium: 800mg
  • Sugars: 10g

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