Cá Kho (Vietnamese Braised Catfish)

Cá Kho (Vietnamese Braised Catfish)

A classic Vietnamese dish best served over jasmine rice. It goes hand in hand with canh chua (sweet and sour catfish soup). One of my favorite Vietnamese food combination! The best part is that my mom would often make this combo. I would ALWAYS over eat whenever this combo presented itself on the kitchen table.

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Marinate Time: 35 minutes 
Cook Time: 35 minutes | Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4-5


  • 3-3.5 pounds of catfish steaks, 1 – 1 1/2 inch thick
  • 5 tablespoons of shallots, minced
  • 4 tablespoons of garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil
  • 3/4 can of coconut soda
  • 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar or store bought Vietnamese caramel sauce (see note)
  • 2-3 Thai chili/bird’s eye chili (optional)
  • 3 stalks of green onion, chopped (optional)
  1. This is usually available in the Vietnamese supermarket. You will most likely see the words “Nuoc Mau” on the bottle. I’ve included steps to make the sauce below in case you do not have it in your pantry (step #3).


  1. Marinate the catfish with fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of garlic and 1 tablespoon of shallot for 30-40 minutes.
  2. In a large pan or clay pot, heat oil on medium-high. Add the remaining shallot and garlic and saute until golden. Scoop out the garlic and shallot with a slotted spoon and set aside. Leave the oil in the pan.
  3. Skip this step if you have the store bought caramel sauce. Add 2.5 tablespoons of sugar in the pot and keep stirring until the sugar caramelizes to a nice light caramel color. Remove the pan from heat.
  4. Add the catfish (in a single layer) and all the marinade sauce liquid into the pan. 
  5. Skip this step if you made the sugar caramel in step #3. Drizzle the store bought caramel sauce on the fish.
  6. Gently flip the fish so coat both sides evenly with the sauce. 
  7. Place the pan back over high heat and add in one can of coconut soda, pepper, and chili (if you want to spice up the dish). Once the liquid comes to a boil (~5 minutes), lower heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. After simmering for 10 minutes, gently and carefully flip the fish. 
  8. Add in the shallot and garlic mixture from step 2 back into the pan and continue braising for another 10-15 minutes or until the sauce is boiled down to half and has lightly thickened. 
  9. Garnish with green onion and enjoy!

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