Every week day, we only have maximum of 1 hour to cook for dinner, to have a balanced nutrition weekly, one day of a week, we have to have some fish dishes. The family likes Canh chua cá bông lau (sweet and sour fish soup) và cá kho tộ . I always get catfish filets, cut and sold at Ranch 99 Supermarket near home. Catfish does have the mud odor if we don’t clean it thoroughly. We always boiled water in a small pot, dip the catfish filets in there for about 40 seconds, take them out and use a straight edge knife to crape off all the black part of the skin to gray color, it’s like scraping black ink off the skin. I do wear latex gloves if I don’t want the mud odor to get on my hands. When the fish filet are on gray and white on the skin, get an iron pan, sprinkle a thin layer of brown sugar on the whole surface of the pan (you can put less if you don’t want the sauce to be too sweet), the best part of cá kho tộ is in the sauce, sweet and salty.
Turn on the burner, and heat up the iron pan, place a little sesame oil (or vegetable oil) over the thin layer of sugar, when it’s hot enough, start to place all fish filets on the pan. Rotate them around the pan, flip them over after a few minutes for both sides to absorb sugar. Watch the video.
After about 5 minutes of simmering with sugar only, it’s time to add soy sauce on the filets only, flip the filets over and add soy sauce on the other side – do it twice for each side, at this time the sauce should be perfect sweet and salty, you can add more soy sauce or less depends upon your taste. When the sauce is tasted to your liking, add some water for the sauce and just simmer the fish filets until the sauce is absorbed by the fish filets. The important thing is that the heat, if you plan for the fish to absorb the sauce more, then lower the heat, with high heat and long time, the fish will break apart.
Cut green onions, red onions and yellow onions and put on the fish 5 minutes before eating with some sesame oil and black pepper for great flavor of the ca kho to.
This is the way we did ours, and I’m sure you have the way you like, but the kids and the family like this way, the only complaint is that the great sauce doesn’t get in the fish enough when we cook them so fast, not enough time for the sauce to go in the fish, but the sauce and the onions were perfect.
Ca kho to is best eaten with hot and sour soup.