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Ca Kho To – The best Vietnamese Braised Fish

Ca Kho To is a Vietnamese braised fish and another one of my favorites when travling throgh Vietnam.

Vietnam, as I have mentioned many times, is my favorite place on the planet for not just on street food but food in general, with the French influence really holding sway here. It is fairly unsurprising that being a seafaring nation, the Vietnamese are pretty good at cooking fish. I present my favorite Vietnamese fish dish (well one of them at least) Ca Kho To.

What does Ca Kho To mean?

The Kho in Ca Kho To refers to a cooking technique in Vietnam where things are cooked or rather braised or stewed in a clay pot. Dishes that get the “Kho” treatment can consist of anything, but it is usually used for fish cooked in either water with spices or even coconut milk.

How do you cook it?

I digress, back to Ca Kho To! Ca Kho To is a catfish cooked in a clay pot until it caramelizes. Sounds simple enough, right? But of course, there is much more to it! To caramelize, the dish sugar is added and it is cooked very slowly until perfect. And by perfect it has the shiny glow that only caramelization can bring.

Ca Kho To

Traditionally Ca Kho To is served as a side dish accompanied by something like Canh Chua Ca Tre (catfish soup) and of course white rice, salt and the small limes known as Calamansi (they deserve their own whole blog).

How do you eat Ca Kho To?

And then voila your Ca Kho To is ready to be eaten and it is here that I get all hot under the collar about Vietnamese cuisine, or much more specifically Vietnamese cuisines unholy marriage with French cuisine.

Vietnam has great bread!

In China, good bread is almost impossible to find, but in Vietnam, it is literally a human right. French-style baguette dipped into your catfish soup whilst you eat sweet caramelized Ca Kho To is easily what good food is all about.

And speaking of great bread! Do not miss out on Banh Mi when you are in Vietnam, or Num Pang when you are in Cambodia. Both of their takes on a French baguette.

Wash it down with a Saigon beer filled to the top with ice if you really want to fit in in Vietnam.

To read about beer on ice click here

To read about taking the train from North Korea to Vietnam click here.

So, whilst there are a LOT of must try dishes when you travel through Vietnam, I would put this dish up there with the must-try foods of Vietnamese cuisine.

Written by Gareth

Gareth Johnson is the founder of Young Pioneer Tours, a published writer, and all round entrepreneur. He enjoys street food, and encourage others to get paid to travel the world.

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