Posted by: SV | March 6, 2009

Fish in a Clay Pot / Cá Kho

This is a fish dish commonly known as caramelized fish or fish in a clay pot.  In Vietnames, it’s ‘cá kho’.   Just as there is many different ways to fry a fish, there are also many different ways to make ‘cá kho’. Almost any fish can be made this way – my tip is to choose fish that is more on the meaty side (catfish, halibut, salmon).  Since we are striving for simplicity on this blog, we will go the simple route of making cá kho’.  The word ‘kho’ refers to a slow simmering cooking process, so allow at least 1.5 hours. (‘Cá’ means fish.)

Don’t be put off if you don’t have a clay pot.  A clay pot would be nice since you can serve the fish straight from the pot.  However, a large sauté pan with a lid will do just fine.

As with most dishes, ‘cá kho’ is served with a piping hot bowl of rice.  Note that this dish tends to be on the salty side so to be sure to balance it with some vegetables like bok choy.

Fish in a Clay Pot / Cá Kho

(Serves 6)

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 lbs catfish fillets
  • 2 tomatoes cut into wedges (optional)
  • 3 sprigs of chopped green onion
  • crushed black pepper

1.  Mix sugar and 4 tbsp of fish sauce together to make a marinade for the fish. 

2.  Place the fish fillets into a shallow baking dish and coat the fish with the marinade on both sides.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

3.  Place the fillets into a large sauté pan or clay pot (~6 quart) on medium high heat. Top with tomato wedges, 2/3 of the chopped green onions, and generous amount of crushed black pepper.  Drizzle the remaining 2 tbsp of fish sauce over the fish mixture. 

4.  Once the pan comes to a boil, reduce heat to a very slow simmer (~1 hour).  The liquid from the fish and tomatoes should reduce into thick, dark, caramel color sauce. Careful not cook the fish dry or else the bottom of the pan will char.

5.  Garnish with remaining chopped green onions and serve. 

Fish in a Clay Pot / Cá Kho, originally uploaded by simpleviet.




  1. Oh that looks fabulous!
    I’ve never had this dish with tomatoes before -will have to give it a try 🙂

  2. Found your blog recently and it’s been fun browsing around. Great recipes!

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