Fish Simmered in Caramel Sauce (Cá Kho Tộ)
- 4 fish fillets (Black Cod, Seabass, Red Snapper, Catfish, Mackerel)
- 3 shallots, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp white pepper powder
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1-2 tbsp sugar
- 4cm knob galangal, peeled, cut into thin strips
- 1 long red chili
- 2-3 tbsp Vietnamese fish sauce
- 150ml water or coconut water
- 4 spring onion, white part only, cut into 4 cm
- Freshly grounded black pepper
1. Combine the fish fillets with shallots, garlic, salt, white pepper, and oil. Turning the fillets to make sure that all surfaces are evenly exposed to the seasonings. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, add the sugar and 1 ½ tbsp water in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Caramelized the sugar till golden brown. Pour in 250ml water and let it cook until the caramel sauce is smooth.
3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a shallow frying pan or claypot over high-heat, sear the fish fillets quick on both sides. Add the galangal, chili, fish sauce, caramel sauce, and coconut water or water. Bring to boil. Adjust the heat to a simmer, cover, cook for 10 minutes to develop the flavor, checking midway to make sure there is enough liquid in the claypot. If the claypot seems dry, splash in a little water. During this initial period, the fish will more or less cook in the steam trapped in the claypot.
4. Uncovered, add more water if needed. Adjust the heat, if necessary, to continue at a gentle simmer. Cook for another 10 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half and has thickened slightly, forming a sauce.
5. Taste the sauce and adjust the flavor with sugar or fish sauce. Add spring onion and cook further for 2 minutes. Top with freshly grounded black pepper and serve immediately.