Ca kho to aka clay pot caramelized catfish

Trang Nguyen

This is a very traditional Vietnamese dish. My mom made it often growing up. Tonight, I took the last of my dad's catfish from his fishing trip in New Orleans to make this. And for the record, even if you don't have a clay pot, you can still make this. I've made it in my le creuset. My clay pot has a shinny gloss so it doesn't stick like other clay pots. Please keep in mind as you make this, add more or less salt, sugar and pepper to your liking. Everyone's taste buds are different.



1.5-2 pounds of catfish, cut in 1.5" thick. Remember to clean the skin with hot water and use knife to scrape off the slimy layer. Or you can get catfish filets.
2 slices of thick bacon cut in 1/2 inch pieces.
2 large shallot chopped
2 large chopped garlic clove

photo In a bowl mix the following:
1 teaspoon of nuoc mau (caramel sauce see pictures above) or more of you like it darker.
1 can of Coco Rico
4 Thai chili (sliced into small pieces)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon salt, sugar and pepper to taste
2 teaspoon olive oil


Chopped green onions
More chopped Thai chilies
Freshly grounded pepper


In a clay pot, cook your bacon until it's almost cooked and add the shallots and garlic so it starts turning light brown. In the same clay pot, add the olive oil sear each side of the catfish and on the last flip, pour in your mixture bowl. Dump this sauce over the fish. This will cook on this position until it's done. Occasionally I carefully shift the fish so it doesn't burn into the clay pot. But be careful not to break up the piece of fish and I try to keep my eyes on the pot. On medium heat, I continue to boil and make sure it doesn't dry up and burn. It took me roughly 30 minutes to cook (time will vary with the size and type of pot you have). Right before it's done, add the fish sauce so it doesn't smell the entire house. Or you can omit if you don't have or like fish sauce. I serve in my clay pot and top with chopped green onions.


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