Monday, March 28, 2011

Cá Kho - Beautiful Disaster

Last time I spoke of how Canh Chua was a dish I took for granted and found simple.Today, I take on Cá Kho (Caramelized Fish in a pot?), a dish with minimal ingredients but incredible flavour. A dish that I absolutely love. A dish that I miss terribly. A dish that I bungled up today but that's fine, I learn from my mistakes.

This is the kind of dish that reminds me of when my grandparents lived with us because even though it's such a regular, everyday meal, it always seemed all that more special to have dinner with them. They had their own kitchen downstairs and sometimes when my brother and I saw that they were having a meal which we favoured more, we would join them. I only realize now how lucky I was to have had that opportunity. Cherish those moments and enjoy the simple dishes of life, they won't always taste the way you remember.

 Kho Recipe
Printable Version

- 1 lb of fish
- 6 tbsps Fish sauce
- 2 tbsps Sugar
- 1 bulb Garlic
- A bit of oil
- Soya Sauce

I found some nice looking Atlantic Salmon cheap at the grocery store for this dish. Luckily, only one piece was used today for Cá Kho and the other will be used for the next recipe. 
An apron to deflect those flying fish scales.

After cleaning, the salmon was sliced into steaks and put into a bowl. I added a couple tbsps of fish sauce, the garlic, a couple tbsps of sugar, a sprinkle of pepper. I let it marinate for ...a long time, actually while I watched Dragon's Den.

Now for key part of this recipe: the caramelized sugar. From my extensive research, put a pan on medium to high heat and add about 1-2 tbsp of sugar, with a bit of oil and sometimes a splash of water then stir, stir, stir.  

I knew I was supposed to take the pan off the heat as the sugar was beginning to brown or caramelize but I'm pretty sure I took it off a little too late. It looked a tad too dark, but it certainly smelled okay. It would have been prudent to have tasted it and perhaps start over but I soldiered forth with my blunder.

 I then added the fish, spooned on a few more tbsps of fish sauce and a dash or two of soya sauce. Make sure to turn the fish a few times to coat them in the sauce of yummy goodness. At this point, it would've been smart to turn down the heat to low, cover, and let simmer. Although my name means 'brilliant, enlightened or bright' I had not flash of brilliance and left the heat on too high.

The pictures make it look a lot blacker than it was!
Although it was admittedly

There may be rumours of how I tried to save it by adding some more sugar, maybe even drizzling the fish with some honey to sweeten the slight bitterness of burnt sugar, but there is no proof of that ever happening. In the end, the salmon was actually cooked quite nicely, and we both enjoyed it.

 Would it be beautiful?


  1. You so lucky, my dinner memories with ong ba ngoai consist mainly of com + store bought BBQ duck/pork/chicken from the local chinese grocery...

  2. Great try time it will be perfect!