Ca kho is a popular Vietnamese caramelised fish dish. This simple version of the classic recipe uses mackerel, an oily fish that’s a good source of long-chain omega-3 fats. It may sound a little strange to caramelise fish, but the flavours are sensational.






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (45 votes)


  • 1½ tbsp white sugar
  • 3 tsp fish sauce
  • 125 ml (½ cup) fish stock
  • 2 spring onions, sliced into 4 cm lengths
  • 1 tbsp diced onion
  • 1 tsp diced garlic
  • 125 ml (½ cup) coconut water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 long red chillies
  • 2 mackerel fillets
  • coriander, to garnish

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Heat sugar in a frying pan over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until golden and caramelised. Add fish sauce and simmer for 2 minutes or until light caramel colour. Add fish stock and coconut water and cook for a further 3 minutes or until it returns to a simmer.


Meanwhile, place another frying pan over medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil, then saute onion and garlic for 3 minutes or until fragrant and softened. Add the onion and garlic to the caramel sauce. Next add the chillies and spring onion. 


Place the mackerel into the pan with the thin tail of the fish sitting on the spring onion so it doesn't overcook. Simmer with mackerel in the sauce for 5 minutes or until cooked. Garnish with coriander to serve.