Wonderfully easy and tasty, this
southern-style dish, called ca kho to, is a classic in most Vietnamese
homes. In the south, clay pots are regularly used for cooking and they
enhance both the look and taste of this traditional dish. However, you can
use any heavy pot or pan. It is delicious served with chunks of baguette
to mop up the caramelized, smoky sauce at the bottom of the pot, but you
could easily serve it with steamed rice or vegetables.
Sesame or vegetable oil
Catfish fillets, cut diagonally into 2 or 3 pieces
Spring onions (scallions), cut into bite-size pieces
Ground black pepper
Fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped, for garnishing
Tip the sugar into a clay pot or heavy
pan. Add 15 ml water to wet it. Heat the sugar until it begins to brown,
then add the oil and garlic.
Stir the nuoc mam into the caramel mixture and add 120 ml boiling water,
then toss in the catfish pieces, making sure they are well coated with
Cover the pot, reduce the heat and simmer
for about 5 minutes.
Remove the lid, season with black pepper
and gently stir in the spring onions.
Simmer for a further 3-4 minutes to
thicken the sauce.
Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
Serve immediately straight from the pot.
When using traditional clay pot, always
use a low to medium heat and heat the pot slowly, otherwise there is a
risk of cracking it. They are designed t be used over a flame, so if
using an electric stove, use a heat diffuser.