Caramelised Fish in Claypot (Cá Kho Tộ)

Caramelised palm sugar balanced with fish sauce, chilli and spring onion creates a rich sauce to coat fish fillets in Chef Colin Doyle’s Vietnamese recipe.  Use a firm fleshed fish like bluenose, hapuku or monkfish as they will handle the bold flavours.

Serves:  4.  Chef:  Colin Doyle

For the caramel
1 disc light palm sugar (approx 1 tbsp)
3 tbsp water

500gm firm white fish – bluenose, hapuku, monkfish
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp oil
1 tbsp Golden Sun fish sauce
¼ cup fish stock
1-2 spring onion
4 baby bok choy
1 tbsp potato starch (can substitute cornflour)
½ bunch garlic chives
½ bunch coriander
1 red chilli (optional)
Steamed rice, for serving

1. Make the caramel by melting the palm sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until it turns dark brown. Add the 3 tablespoons of water, reduce the heat to low and cook until the sugar blends into the water and the mixture becomes syrupy. Remove from the heat.
2. Cut the fish into approximately 3cm cubes and season with salt and pepper.
3. Finely slice the garlic and fry with approximately 3 tablespoons of oil in a heavy based saucepan (or clay pot) over medium heat until golden then add in the fish. Now stir in the caramel and cook for approximately 5 minutes until the fish changes colour.
4. Add the fish sauce, fish stock and the finely sliced white part of the spring onions. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Cut the bok choy in half and steam with a little water.
6. Make a slurry out of the potato starch and a little water, and add to the pot and cook until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat and add the chopped garlic chives and coriander, finely sliced green part of the spring onions and finely sliced red chilli (if using).
7. Season with salt and pepper and serve with steamed rice and bok choy.

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