How to Braise Fish with a Rice Cooker, Vietnamese style
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A staple of any Vietnamese cook’s repertoire is kho (pronounced khaw) or stewed meat, most often in a caramel and fish sauce for that addictive sweet and salty combination.
The tộ in cá kho tộ refers to the clay pot the dish is traditionally prepared in. If you don’t have any spare clay pots on hand, we’re going to cheat a bit and make this in a rice cooker.
This recipe is the easiest and tastiest way to slow cook fish! The braising juices thicken until becoming gloriously sticky, mixed with soft pork, making the dish more greasy. Each piece of galangal is fragrant, the dry onions are slightly chewy, and the chili mildly spicy to make the perfect dish with hot steaming rice.
- Total time: 180 minutes
- Servings: 4-5 people
- Total calories: 1.646 kcal
-800 grams of fish (carp or snakehead)
-150 grams of pork belly
-5-6 red shallots (with skin on)
-1 handful of green tea leaves or guava leaves
-3-4 whole dried chili peppers
-Seasoning: fish sauce, salt, sugar, pepper, green onion.
The amount of chili you use is entirely up to your personal preference, and you can leave it out entirely if you like. Some families like to have it cut up and added in during the braising while others like to keep it whole.
The longer you leave it, the spicier it will be. If you prefer it less spicy, put it in towards the end of the braising or just as a garnish.
-Clean the fish, cut into pieces, rub with salt and lemon to deodorize, wash with water then drain.
-Cut the pork into medium pieces, galangal thinly sliced, dry onions washed, keep the skin sliced or cut in half.
- You can use premade caramel sauce, but it's easy to make your own. To make the caramel, heat up a claypot on low heat and add cooking oil and sugar. Let it brown and stir in the remaining aromatics for 10 seconds until it caramelizes to an amber color. Be careful ass the sugar will burn if left on the heat for too long.
-Marinate fish and meat with 1/2 tablespoon of salt, 3 tablespoons of fish sauce, 3 tablespoons of caramel sauce, 1 teaspoon of pepper, then marinate for at least 30 minutes or cover with food wrap and refrigerate overnight if you have time.
-Arrange galangal, green tea leaves (or guava leaves) and shallots on the bottom of the pot. Next add the fish and pork alternately, then the marinade, and put a few dried chili peppers on top (the whole dried chili will be less spicy).
-First time braising: Turn on the rice cooker, let it simmer and then add seasoning to penetrate the fish and meat. After 10 minutes, add boiling water to get the fish to soak up the braising liquid and continue to cook for 1 hour, then the pot will switch to warm mode, so unplug and let the fish cool.
-Second time: Press the cook button again. Occasionally shake the pot slightly or flip the catfish on all sides. But do it gently or the fish will break apart. Use a spoon to evenly coat the fish with aromatics and caramel sauce. When the pot turns warm, let the fish warm for some time.
- Add green onion during the last 2 minutes to wilt & top with sliced chilli.
-If you want the water to thicken, continue to press the cook button to cook for longer. The longer the fish is cooked, the stronger the flavor, and the firmer and more delicious the fish and meat. Remember to add water if you want to braise it for a long time and to prevent it from burning.
-When the braised fish is as desired, drizzle 1.5 tablespoons of lard in, open the lid to let the steam out and the fish will thicken again, and the dish will have a better color.
Finished product: Beautiful brown fish and soft pork. The dish is greasy and not dry. Each piece of galangal is fragrant, the shallots are clear and firm, and the dried chili mildly spicy. All make delicious dishes any season of the year.
Ca kho is a very rich and salty dish, so it goes well with many veggies to balance it out. Serve this with sliced cucumbers, boiled vegetables or even some pickled mustard greens.
Use a spatula to flip. The fish will become very soft during the braising, so use a spatula to avoid breaking any flesh.
You can use a large saucepan with a flat bottom instead of rice cooker, but skillets and pots will work just as well so long as they have a flat base for the ingredients to lay on.
Any fish that has few bones and lots of meaty flesh (such as salmon, barramundi, basa, cod or sea bass) is ideal for this recipe.
A common practice is to use the filets from the center to make this braised fish recipe, and use the heads and tails for canh chua (a sour soup).
Tea leaves or guava leaves help to deodorize the fishy smell.
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