Our weekend in LA started with lunch with the parental units. This is one of those "simple, but so very good dishes" that my mother makes. She had prepared two pots and saved one of them for lunch. I believe it's called ca kho to in Vietnamese, but we always called it kho yu. "Yu" is Cantonese for "fish" and "kho" means "to braise" in Vietnamese.
Traditionally, it's done in a clay pot, but my mom opts for Corningware. I think it's the ease of cleaning factor. It's a recipe that varies from region to region in Vietnam and every family does it their own way. Epicurious has a recipe that's close to my mother's.
Ca Kho To
Mom doesn't make a separate caramel sauce. She usually mixes the sugar with the fish sauce and uses a soy sauce/water mixture. Her method goes something like this:
- Heat oil and toast shallots and ginger
- Add fish and cook lightly on both sides
- Add fish sauce and sugar (1 part sugar to 2 parts fish sauce), stir and coat fish with mixture
- Add soy sauce/water (1:2 water: soy sauce), braise fish until fully cooked
- Season with pepper, top with scallions and cilantro
Since this was prepared in advance and reheated, Mom stirred it to heat the fish thoroughly. In doing so, she buried the scallions and cilantro before I took this photo.
Up close, the catfish has a gorgeous brown color and falls off the bone.
Fresh fish is an absolute must for this dish, regardless of the method/recipe used.