Vietnamese Braised Catfish (Cá Kho Tộ)

One of my favorite family-style meal dishes is Cá Kho Tộ, Vietnamese braised catfish. The braised catfish is savory and sweet from the fish sauce and sugar marinade and simmered to a rich and sticky icky goodness. The fish tastes super flavorful, delicate, and tender and soaks up all the flavors from the marinade. So Yum!

Give me a big bowl of steamed rice and Canh Chua and I’m going in! When you make this, make sure you make extra because it is super addicting.

1.5 Pounds Catfish, cut into 5/8 inch steaks
2 cups water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 shallot, finely minced
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon caramel color (optional)
2 green onion, finely chopped
2 Thai Chilies


Marinate Fish – In a medium bowl, add garlic, shallot, fish sauce, brown sugar, oyster sauce, black pepper, oil, and caramel color and mix well. Add fish and marinade for at least 1 hour.

Braise Fish – Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet or claypot on a stovetop over medium-high heat. Sear fish for 2-3 minutes on each side to develop some color. Add remaining marinade, Thai chilies, and water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer fish for 20-25 minutes, flipping every few minutes until the liquid evaporates and the sauce is thick and syrupy. With about 5 minutes left in the braising process, add green onions.


  • Adjust seasonings to your taste preference.
  • I’ve used salmon for this and it works well, but prefer using catfish
  • If liquid reduces too much, add a bit of water to loosen up the sauce.
  • While fish is braising, continue to baste with the simmering liquid.

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