Caramelised Fish In Young Coconut Juice (Ca Kho To)

As fish and seafood are abundant in Vietnam, the local cuisine features many fish dishes. Ca kho to is one of the most popular fish dish made with meaty white fish steaks slowly braised in a caramelized sauce made with palm sugar, fish sauce, and coconut water. The dish is traditionally cooked and served in a clay pot. Catfish, snake-head fish, and basa fish are commonly used in this dish as they are affordable and convenient.

With this recipe, you are not required to use a clay pot to make ca kho to at home; just a regular non-stick pan. The key is to let the sugar caramelize in oil first before braising the fish. The marinade adds a depth of flavor to the fish meat. Thin slices of pork belly which are quickly stir-fried in the caramel sauce make the dish even more appetizing. The fish and pork belly slices are absolutely tasty, tender, and juicy. The sauce has a perfect balance of sweet, salty and spicy flavors. This dish is perfect with hot steaming rice.


• 500 grams of basa fish steaks
• 3 tbsp vegetable oil
• 2 tbsp palm sugar
• 250 grams of thinly sliced pork belly
• 1 cup of young coconut juice
• 1 tbsp fish sauce
• 3 spring onions, white part only, sliced
• 1 red chili sliced
• cracked black pepper


• 1 tsp minced garlic
• 1 tsp chopped onion
• 1 tbsp palm sugar
• 1 tbsp fish sauce
• 2 tbsp oyster sauce
• 1 tsp sesame oil


This recipe takes about 20 minutes to make. Serves 2 to 3.

To make the marinade, mix garlic, onion, palm sugar, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl.
Place the fish steaks in a large mixing bowl, then pour in the marinade.
Mix well so the fish steaks are coated with the marinade.
Let the fish marinate for at least 10 minutes.

Heat oil in a pan over low heat.
Add palm sugar and let the sugar caramelize for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add pork belly and stir-fry for 15 seconds.
Add fish steaks and simmer for 1 minute.
Pour in the rest of the marinade and simmer for 1 minute.
Pour in coconut juice and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes.
Add spring onions and red chili.
Simmer for another minute, then turn the heat off.
Transfer fish to a serving dish, then pour sauce on top.
Top off with chopped red chilies and cracked black pepper.

Ideas And Tips:

• Aside from basa fish, you can use other meaty white fish such as haddock, pollack, cod, bass, hake, mahi-mahi or grouper.

Caramelised Fish In Young Coconut Juice - Luke Nguyen's Vietnamese Recipes
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