The first time I had this dish, I fell in love with it. It’s been 6 long years since I last had this dish. I first tasted this dish in Michigan, Ann Arbor, in a Vietnamese restaurant (Saigon) and instantly loved it. The dish served in Saigon was Clay Pot Catfish with Pineapples. The combination of sweet, tangy, salty and spicy flavors was unforgettable! Since coming back to Singapore, I had yet to try cooking this dish, reason being, I didn’t have a clay pot. Call me unflexible, but I just couldn’t cook this dish without a clay pot! It just didn’t feel right! But now that I had recently bought my clay pot, this was the first dish that I looked up the internet. I am going to christian my claypot with this dish. As expected, I was unable to find catfish in the wet market, but nonetheless, I managed to find an alternative (mackerel). Apparently, you can use any fish steak to make this, as long as the fish is suitable for stewing.
* Beware: For those of you who are able to get catfish, make sure they’re farmed and not caught in the wild! Wild catfish might be TOXIC!!! This dish is meant to WOW you, not HARM you =)
The WWW is a wonderful thing. I managed to find the recipe of my choice just within a few clicks. The recipe by The Ravenous Couple completely won me over. Of course, I had to make some revisions to their recipe since I was planning to have my kids eat it as well. Hope you’ll like my version of this Vietnamese dish: Ca Kho To.
Vietnamese Braised Fish with Pineapple in Clay Pot
2 slices fish steaks
4 tbs fish sauce
3 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs minced shallots
2 tbs minced garlic
3 green onions, sliced 1 inches long
3 tbs caramel sauce (see below)
1 can of young coconut juice
1 small can of pineapple
Simmer 4 tbs of sugar and 1/2 cup water. Keep stirring until it reduces and becomes dark brown (Try not to burn the mixture, else the taste becomes bitter). The consistency should be similar to maple syrup. If it becomes too thick, just add more water. Note: Do not leave the sauce in the saucepan (especially if your saucepan is good at retaining the heat even after removing from the stove). Pour it out into a dish.
1. Clean the fish steaks, rinse well and pat dry. Marinade with fish sauce, sugar, pepper, garlic, and shallots for about 1 hr.
2. In the clay pot, heat about 1 tbs of cooking oil on medium high and add the marinated fish. Sear and brown for about 2-3 mins before searing opposite side.
3. Add the caramel sauce and just enough coconut juice to the level of the fish steaks.
4. Cover and turn to med low heat and allow to simmer for about 25 min (longer if you want it really soft), checking a few times to make sure that it’s not reduced too much. Add more coconut juice or caramel sauce if needed.
5. The fish will eventually caramelize and brown, taste the sauce and make final adjustments with fish sauce or sugar. If the sauce remains watery (like mine), add cornstarch to thicken the sauce.
6. Turn off heat and add green onions.
Enjoy it rice! Hmm…yum yum!
For once, my kids loved the gravy so much that they polished off ALL their rice! Hope you’ll like it too =)