Caramelised Mackerel with Pineapple

Cá Thu Kho Khóm

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Serves

    4-6

    as part of a Shared Meal

Appears in

The Songs of Sapa

By Luke Nguyen

Published 2009

  • About

THIS RECIPE IS A MARRIAGE OF MANY DIFFERENT ELEMENTS, BALANCED TOGETHER PERFECTLY. IT IS A LIGHTER VERSION OF THE POPULAR TRADITIONAL DISH OF CARAMELISED FISH, CA KHO. I HAVE BALANCED THE SALT WITH THE PINEAPPLE, THE FISH SAUCE WITH SUGAR AND ADDED DARK SOY SAUCE FOR COLOUR. IF YOU DON’T OFTEN USE PINEAPPLE IN COOKING, GIVE THIS A TRY; YOU’LL BE PLEASANTLY SURPRISED.

WHEN USING A CLAY POT FOR THE FIRST TIME, MAKE SURE YOU IMMERSE IT IN COLD WATER FOR A FEW HOURS. THIS WILL ENSURE THAT IT DOES NOT CRACK OVER INTENSE HEAT. CLAY POTS RELEASE EARTHY, SMOKY FLAVOURS INTO YOUR FOOD AND THEY MAINTAIN THEIR HEAT WELL.

Ingredients

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 spring onions (scallions), white part only, bruised
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 mackerel cutlets (600 g/1 lb 5 oz in total)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 300 g (10½ oz) pineapple, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz) chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon fried garlic
  • 1 tablespoon garlic oil
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), green part only, sliced
  • 1 small handful coriander (cilantro) leaves
  • 1 bird’s eye chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 Lebanese (short) cucumber, sliced

Method

In a bowl, combine half the garlic, the white spring onion, the fish sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar ½ and teaspoon salt. Coat the fish with the mixture, then cover and place in the fridge to marinate for 15 minutes, reserving any leftover marinade.

Place a frying pan over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil. Add the pineapple and stir-fry for 1 minute, then remove from the pan and set aside. Add the remaining oil and heat over medium heat, then brown the fish cutlets on both sides.

Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the fish to a chopping board. Chop each fish cutlet into four pieces with a heavy cleaver. Transfer the fish and pineapple to a clay pot and pour in the reserved marinade. Place the clay pot on the stovetop, turn the heat to high and bring to the boil. Add the chicken stock and bring back to the boil, skimming any impurities off the surface. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half.

Add the remaining chopped garlic to the pot along with the tried garlic, garlic oil and ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and stir to combine. Spoon the sauce over the fish. Remove the clay pot from the heat, garnish with the spring onion, coriander and chilli, and serve with a side bowl of cucumber and jasmine rice.