Vietnamese Braised Fish – Cá Kho

Ca kho is a very well-known home-style braised fish dish.  There are many variations of ca kho.  Main ingredients include fish sauce, sugar, black pepper, and chili peppers.  This is my version of how I braised catfish.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Serving: 4-6 people
  • Note: I used a 10-inch non-stick deep pan


  • 2 swai fish or 1 rockfish
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 Tbsp Viet Huong fish sauce
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Thai chilies
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1-2 shallots (about 1/3 cup sliced shallots)
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2-4 Thai chili peppers
  • 1 tsp coco caramel


1.  Cut the fish into 1.5-2 inches thick cuts.  I place the fish cuts in the pan to see how may pieces I can fit in there nicely and freeze the rest.  I freeze the pieces cut near the head in the freezer to use for my fish soups.

2.  Slice the shallots and prep the ingredients. Coat the fish with coco caramel.

3.  Heat up oil and toss in the shallots and Thai chili peppers.  Stir for about 30 seconds.

4.  Pour in the water.

5.  Pour in the fish sauce.

6.  Pour in the sugar and stir so the sugar dissolves.

7.  Cook this sauce on medium high (#8 on my GE Spectra stove) for about two minutes. The sauce will be bubbly.

8.  Add in the fish. Set timer to 30 minutes.  Lower heat to medium low (#4 on my stove).

15 minutes later…

30 minutes later…

9.  Scoop the fish steaks out onto a deep plate.   With the sauce still in the pan, crank up the heat to high so the sauce would be bubbly.  Stir and cook the sauce until it thickens up to your preference.  Mine took me about two minutes.  Then drizzle that sauce over the fish.  Sprinkle more black pepper if needed.  (Oopsie! My camera battery went out.  I had to recharge.  Will add picture for this step later. hehe)

10.  Serve with steamed jasmine rice and enjoy!

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