Caramelized catfish (cá kho) is my husband’s favorite Vietnamese dish, especially when my Mom made it. We miss her so much.
You’d think the hubs would prefer caramelized pork spare ribs over catfish, or a nicely seasoned pork chop, but nope! The fish is his favorite.
Well last night, my Dad came over, and we made dinner together: caramelized catfish and hot and sour fish soup. Yum! My Dad has been sleeping over the past few days since their house is currently being renovated. He currently has no kitchen and no where to sleep, so we set him up in our spare bedroom. He gets a place to sleep, and I get a delicious dinner. Win! Win!
Caramelized catfish is made similarly to the pork spare ribs; the only difference is that you have to clean and marinate the fish to eliminate the fishiness. Oh, you also have to add some oil to the sugar when you caramelize the fish, so that it doesn’t fall apart/stick to the pan.
Here’s what you’ll need:
5-6 pieces of catfish steaks
1 tbs salt (to clean the fish)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cracked pepper
2 tbs fish sauce
1/2 tsp chili flakes (optional)
1/2 cup fine minced red onion (about 1/4 of a whole red onion)
1) Place the fish in a bowl and sprinkle the tbs of salt over it. Clean each piece by rubbing it gently under running water. Remove any visible blood or veins, as those parts tend to smell very fishy.
3) Once you’re ready to cook the fish, place the sugar & olive oil in a pan on high heat. Do not stir the two ingredients together, just let the sugar melt. Once it starts to melt, add the onions to the side of the pan (not on top of the sugar). As soon as the sugar starts to brown/caramelize, stir all three ingredients together, and reduce the heat to low.
5) Turn the heat back up. Then, add the water and tsp of fish sauce. Let it come to a boil for a couple of minutes. Then, reduce the heat to simmer, and allow the fish to soak up the flavors. This should take about 7-10 minutes. Once the water thickens to more of a sauce, then, you’re done!