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Monday, July 4, 2011

Ca kho to (Caramelised silver perch in claypot)

This is a very home style dish and one that mum used to make alot. I recall having thi kho(caramelised pork) and ca kho(caramelised fish) often as a child, almost on a weekly basis. Perhaps, it's the fact that you can feed the whole family with just one dish. I love the balance of saltiness and sweetness of the sauce, nothing goes better with hot steaming rice than this. Without fail, I always start by slathering a spoonful of the thick caramelised sauce and message it into my rice. I can eat it just like that, to me the sauce is the hero of the dish.


1 silver perch
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
3 shallots white part only (cut 1 inch long and bruised)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp white pepper (roughly cracked)
1 thai chilli (thinly sliced, optional)

Caramel sauce

2 tbsp cooking oil
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce

chopped shallots


1. Cut the fish into 1 inch pieces and place in a large bowl with the fish sauce, sugar, shallots, garlic, chilli and white pepper. Mix and let marinate for about 30 minutes.
2. Heat the oil over low-medium heat in a medium-sized clay pot or non stick pan. Add the sugar and wait until it start to caramelise.
3. When the sugar is caramelised, add 2 tbsp fish sauce to stop it cooking further.
4. Let the sauce thicken a little, then add the fish in. Coat both side of the fish with the caramel sauce.
5. Stir in the remaining marinade and cover with the lid slightly open. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to a fairly thick syrup. Turn the fish occasionally to coat both sides with the caramel sauce.
6. Adjust seasoning to taste with fish sauce and sugar.
7. Garnish with shallots and enjoy with steamed rice.



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