Salmon Stew in Caramel sauce Vietnamese Style-Cá Kho Quẹt/Khô Kho

Vietnamese food

A Vietnamese humble family dish is similar as Christina Ha “Cá Kho Tộ” which won her the white apron and became our beloved Master Chef forever but forget about the fancy ceramic pot or coconut water.  You are not going to worry about portion control especially in the countryside or in the low income housing.  This slice of fish is able to feed the whole family 4-6 people easily.

Hold your thought, how could they do that? Yes we can.  We put this little prized slice of fish in a really salty sauce which could give you a numbing sensation at your tongue if you try to eat a lot without rice.  Quẹt means lightly touch the chopsticks in the sauce and eat what on the tips of them.  Khô means very little liquid left in the pot.

Got it?  just increase amount of the sauce and you could feed more people.  I use salmon here but in Vietnam we use snake fish, catfish, or whole small fish.  The liquid should be thick like glaze/syrup.  A small pot is use so the fish steak snugging at the bottom.

 Make 2-4 servings in a multiple course meal family style

One 5-6 ounce salmon steak or cat fish ( my favorite for fatty )
3 Tablespoon fish sauce (this recipe uses 3 crab brand)
2 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 small Asian shallot. coarsely chopped or 1-2 tablespoon coarsely chopped yellow onion
1 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil or lard
1 green onion, thinly sliced white and green part separated
1 red hot Thai chili whole, omit if cook for kid
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

  1. Heating oil in the small pot over medium high heat.  When the oil simmers, stir shallot,garlic, and white onion slices in until fragrant.  Add sugar, continue stirring until sugar turn golden brown.   Turn the heat down to low, stand back and add water.  Be careful the water will flash back a little.  Turn the heat up, keep stirring constantly.  The sugar will be harden but will thin out later, add fish sauce, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, red chili.  When caramel melt, add fish and cover, simmer gently until the liquid thicken like glaze/syrup.  Turn side to side occasionally.  The low heat will take longer than medium low heat about 15 minutes or a little longer.  Sprinkle with green onion and ground black pepper.
  2. Serve warm with cooked rice, veggies like cucumber, tomato, lettuce, or boil/steam veggies as broccoli, green mustard, kale, etc.   The sauce is very salty so use a little for each bite or dip.

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