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Ca Kho To

A homestyle comfort dish in Vietnamese cuisine, ca kho to is a braised fish dish traditionally baked in a clay pot and eaten for family meals. The process of cooking in a brown clay pot retains heat and caramelizes the dish; however, any thick pan or Dutch oven can be used. When made in southern Vietnam, snakehead fish is most commonly used, being inexpensive and plentiful. In the United States, it's easier to make ca kho to with catfish. Catfish braises well due to its high fat content, but any variety of fish steak can be used. Serve this rich entree with vegetable sides or pickled mustard greens.

Recipe Servings: 4

Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Total Time
50 minutes
Gluten Free
Dairy Free



  1. Generously salt catfish fillets and then rinse under cool water to clean. Set aside to dry.
  2. In a heavy pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until lightly browned.
  3. Layer the onion over the garlic, and then layer the fish over the onion, spacing evenly.
  4. Add the 1 teaspoon salt, chile, black pepper, fish sauce, soy sauce, water, and coconut juice. Bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste and adjust flavors as desired.
  6. Gently flip the fish and simmer for a final 10 minutes, partially covered.
  7. Spoon the sauce over the fish. During the last 2 minutes, add the green onion.
  8. Sprinkle with red chile and freshly ground black pepper.
  9. Serve hot.

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