Vietnamese Recipes & Cuisines (Seafood)

Eel Braised in Caramel Sauce Recipe

Although this dish is found in different parts of Vietnam, it is traditionally a northern dish and it is there, in the highlands, that is best sampled. The eels are caught in the Red, Black and Song Ma rivers, which contribute to the local name of this dish, "three rivers eel". If you can't find eel, use mackerel. The fat rendered from these fish melts into the caramel sauce, making it deliciously velvety. It is usually served with noodles or steamed rice.

Ingredients : Serves 4

45 ml

30 ml

45 ml

2 cloves




350 g

200 g


30 ml

5 cm

1/4 teaspoon

2 sprigs

Raw cane sugar

Soy sauce

Nuoc cham

Garlic, crushed

Dried chilies

Star anise


Eel on the bone, cut into 2.5 cm thick chunks

Butternut squash, cut into bite-size chunks

Spring onions (scallions), cut into bite-size pieces

Sesame or vegetable oil

Fresh root ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks


Chopped fresh coriander (cilantro), for garnishing


Method :
  • Put the sugar in a heavy pan or wok with 30 ml water.

  • Gently heat it until it turns golden.

  • Remove the pan form the heat and stir in the soy sauce and nuoc mam with 120 ml water. Add the garlic, chilies, star anise and peppercorns and return to the heat.

  • Add the eel chunks, squash and spring onions, making sure the fish is well coated in the sauce, and season with salt. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for about 20 minutes to let the eel braise gently in the sauce and steam.

  • Meanwhile, heat a small wok, tip in the oil and stir fry the ginger until crisp and golden.

  • Remove and drain on kitchen paper. When the eel is nicely tender, arrange it on a serving dish, scatter the crispy ginger over it, and garnish with a little fresh coriander.

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