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Cá Kho Tộ in a claypot
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5 from 8 votes

Cá Kho Tộ (Vietnamese Braised Fish)

This Cá Kho Tộ recipe is the TASTIEST way to slow cook fish. For such a budget-friendly cut, it's incredibly moist and fall apart tender!
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time1 hr 5 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Asian, Vietnamese
Servings: 6
Calories: 247kcal
Author: Jeannette


  • Claypot


For The Marinade

  • 650 g / 1.4 lb fish (preferably in steak form)
  • 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 red shallot (finely chopped)
  • 3 chili (optional)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (or to taste)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon powder
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cooking oil (with a neutral flavor)

For The Sauce

  • 1 US cup coconut water (or water)
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 3 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
  • spring onion (finely chopped; to garnish)


  • Combine the fish with the sugar, chicken bouillon powder, pepper, fish sauce and oil as well as half of the garlic and red shallots. Let it marinate for a minimum of 20 minutes.
  • To make the caramel, heat up a claypot on low heat and add the oil and sugar in. Let it brown.
    Note: Work VERY quickly with the sugar because it will burn if left on the heat for too long.
  • Add the remaining garlic and red shallots to cook for 20 seconds, then pour in the coconut water and turn the heat up to high.
  • Add the fish in and let it simmer for 30 seconds, then gently flip it over to coat the sauce on the other side. Pour the remaining marinade over it.
  • Let the fish braise on a low-medium heat for 1 hour or until soft with the lid partially on. The sauce should be slightly thick and sticky when it's done. If you plan to add chili, you can put it in now.
    Tip: Scoop the sauce onto the fish every 15 minutes to make sure every part is covered.
  • Garnish with spring onions and serve immediately with hot rice!



  • Use coconut water. As with any Vietnamese braising recipe (like our family's Thịt Kho), coconut water adds a subtle sweetness that gets infused into the ingredients.
  • Adjust the heat while the sugar is cooking. Sugar burns easily, so keep an eye on the sauce. If it's darkening too fast, IMMEDIATELY turn the heat down to low.
  • Use a spatula to flip. The catfish will become very soft during the braising, so use a spatula to avoid breaking any flesh.
  • We prefer using brown sugar varieties like palm or raw sugar for a richer color and flavor. However, any that you have on hand will work so long as it's adjusted to taste.
  • The longer you leave the chili in to cook, the spicier it will be. If you'd prefer it less spicy, put it in towards the end of the braising or just as a garnish.


Calories: 247kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 610mg | Potassium: 438mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 214IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg