Vietnamese Recipes & Cuisines (Seafood)

Clay Pot Catfish Recipe

(Ca Kho To)

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.

Ingredients : Serves 4

30 ml

15 ml

2 cloves

45 ml

350 g


1/4 teaspoon

1 sprig


Sesame or vegetable oil

Garlic, crushed

Nuoc mam

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

Method :
  • 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 the sauce.

  • 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.

Tips :

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.

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