Vietnamese Fish Stew (Ca Kho To)

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Vietnamese Fish Stew Recipe (Cá Kho Tộ)

Vietnamese Fish Stew (Ca Kho To) is a hearty soup recipe that calls for dried salted fish, considered a delicacy in Vietnam. This is one of my favorite dishes at a local Vietnamese restaurant. I searched around the internet for the recipe and this is what a came up with. I just made this tonight and am quite surprised how close it taste to the restaurant version. It is normally made in a clay pot but a 2-quart saucepan will suffice. Beware, fish sauce is a very pungent ingredient.

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz/100 g) minced shallots (about 12 shallots)
  • 2 oz (50 g) pork belly, sliced
  • 1 slender Asian eggplant (5 oz/150 g), cubed
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, thick bottom parts only, outer layers discarded, inner parts minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
  • 3 cups (750 ml) water
  • 7 oz (200 g) dried salted fish (see note)
  • 10 oz (300 g) fresh fish fillets (halibut, mackerel, swordfish or catfish)
  • 2 finger-length red chilies, deseeded and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 fresh medium shrimp (about 4 oz/ 100 g), peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced spring onion
  • 1 tablespoon Crispy Fried Shallots, to garnish


Vietnamese Fish Stew (Cá Kho Tộ)

1,Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat. Stir-fry the garlic, shallots, pork, eggplant, lemongrass and peppercorns for about 5 minutes, until cooked. Remove from the heat and set aside.
2,In a large saucepan, bring the water, salted fish and fresh fish to a boil over medium heat, then simmer for about 10 minutes and remove from the heat. Remove the fish and set aside. Strain the stock.

3,Bring the clear stock to a boil again in a pot. Add the stir-fried pork mixture, chilies and sugar, and simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the soup has reduced by one-third. Finally, add the shrimp and simmer for 3 more minutes until they turn pink, then remove from the heat.
4,Place the fish in individual serving bowls. Pour the stew over and sprinkle with spring onion and Crispy Fried Shallots.


There are many different grades of dried salted fish and the better ones can be quite expensive, however, any dried or salted fish will work with this recipe—salt cod is a good choice. Rinse and clean the salted fish thoroughly. Soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Soak for a longer period of time or overnight for a more subtle flavor, or to remove more of the salt.