This recipe comes from the third episode of Das Boat Season 3. Watch the series here.
Clay pot fish, or "ca kho to," is a staple in the homes and kitchens of Vietnam where the dish originates. Traditionally, the dish is made with the rather plentiful and inexpensive snakehead fish. Oftentimes boneless catfish fillets are used in the United States. Any semi-firm whitefish species will work for this technique, although each will produce a unique result. The real secret to the dish is the balance of sweet, salty, and spicy that is so often present in Vietnamese cuisine.
8 (4 oz.) boneless fish fillets 4 shallots, sliced thin 8 garlic cloves, crushed 1 (2 in.) piece fresh ginger, sliced thin 2 cups unsweetened coconut juice or water ¼ cup fish sauce 2 tbsp. thick soy sauce (or substitute oyster sauce) 2 tbsp. grapeseed oil 2 red Fresno chiles ½ cup sliced green onions Freshly ground black pepper
Also works with
- Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Immediately add grapeseed oil, shallots, garlic, and ginger to the pan while it heats.
- Combine the coconut juice, fish sauce, and thick soy sauce in a measuring cup.
- Allow the mixture in the pan to cook for approximately 2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Once the shallots begin to appear translucent, smooth them out in the bottom of the pan to create a base for your fish fillets to sit on.
- Place the fillets on top of the shallot mixture then cover with the coconut juice mixture. Cover the pan with a lid or another like sized skillet and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Lower the temperature to medium-low and allow the fish to steam for 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid from the pan and baste the liquid over the top of the fillets. Baste the fish every minute or so while the liquid reduces. Once the liquid mixture has reached a thickened, syrupy consistency, remove from the heat.
- Generously season each fillet with ground black pepper and sprinkle with sliced red chiles and green onions. Place the lid back on the pan for 1 minute to allow the chiles and green onions to steam gently.
- Serve the fish with its sauce as is or alongside steamed white rice and/or sliced cucumbers.