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Clay Pot Fish

In the mood for something sweet? How about with a little kick? Substantial but not red meat? Look no further! Today’s dish is a Vietnamese Clay Pot fish. It is a little different from some of the other recipes we have made in the past, but no less delicious! Get ready for some tasty taste-bud transportation!

Vietnamese Clay Pot Fish

Difficulty: 4/5

Time Required: 1 hour

You Will Need:


Start with two fillets of a firm, meaty white fish. I used Cod for this version, but I have also used Halibut and Haddock in the past. Go with what is available to you, and looks good at the fish market that day! Depending on how many people you will want to serve, a good rule is about a 1/2 – 3/4 pound fillet per person. If you need, buy a larger fillet and cut it into eatable chunks.

Canola Oil


Soy Sauce (I use low sodium, look for the Green Bottle)

Asian Fish Sauce (You can find this in any food market in the International Section. Just ask!)



Ginger (About a 1.5″ section)

2 chiles – Use green Thai chiles, or whatever you want to add your own flavor and kick. I really like Serrano peppers and Thai chiles so I use a mixture

Ground pepper

Cutting Board and Chef’s Knife

Large pot and a Small Saucepan, plus ladle and tongs

Ok! We’re all set. The first step is the hardest part of this recipe. You will be making Caramel on your stove, which can be very tricky, as it burns very easily. I recommend not doing any other tasks while this is happening, as it turns very quickly and can burn if you leave the sugar on for 30 seconds too long!

Start by combining a half cup of sugar with 1/4 cup of water in your Saucepan, like so…


Turn the stove up to Medium-High heat, and stir the mixture until your sugar melts completely. Then Bring the sugarwater up to a boil and stir frequently until it begins to caramelize. You will know it is done when it starts to suddenly turn brown, like this:


Keep an eye on the sugar mixture. Keep your ears and eyes open for changes in the texture and sound of the boiling sugar, and you should be ok. This step can get quite messy, so have fun with it! As soon as the sugar has caramelized, take it off heat and VERY CAREFULLY stir in another 1/4 cup of water – beware of hot splatters!


We’ve now got a beautiful tasty caramel base for our fish sauce.

Now, go ahead and dice up 3 cloves of garlic, 3 shallots, and your 2 chiles. You will also want to use a grater to chop up your ginger into a nice fine level.

Heat the oil in your large Pot, and add all of our newly diced veggies in to saute, about 2 minutes. You will know when they are ready as they begin to release a strong fragrance – Yum!


When you are ready, stir in a 1/4 cup of Fish sauce and Soy Sauce, along with your Caramel mixture and a Cup of Water. Bring the entire sauce to a boil, and stir it enough to prevent our spices and veggies burning from being in one place too long.


Now we’re talkin!

Once the whole thing is boilin’, drop it to low, partially cover with a lid, and let that baby simmer for 15 minutes as the sauce takes on a syrupy texture. If it begins to get too thick, add water in 1/4 cup increments until it looks the way you want it. In the meantime, I had to pick out a nice bottle to match our meal…101_0356

Shannon found a great Sauvignon Blanc from South East Australia that should work perfectly – nice acids and citrus to cut through that spice and salt. Dig in!

Meanwhile, when your sauce is ready, add your fish fillets and turn them enough to coat both sides with sauce. You’ll want to cover the whole pot and cook the fish for another 15 minutes, making sure to flip sides halfway through. When its done, the fish should be opaque throughout and tender to the fork.


(This is halfway done, and already breaking up. But that’s part of the fun!)

Now season the whole thing with ground pepper to your taste, and serve the fish in shallow bowls, drizzled with sauce, and enjoy!