Caramelised mackerel

Caramelised mackerel

Maquereau caramélisé

Luke Nguyen's France
Alan Benson

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 healthy long-chain omega-3 fats. It may sound a little strange to caramelise fish, but the flavours are sensational.


Quantity Ingredient
1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
3 teaspoons fish sauce
125ml fish stock
125ml coconut water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon diced onion
1 teaspoon diced garlic
1 long red chilli, chopped
2 spring onions, cut into 4 cm lengths
4 mackerel fillets
coriander sprigs, to garnish
steamed white rice, to serve


  1. Heat the sugar in a frying pan over medium–high heat for about 5 minutes, or until golden and caramelised. Add the fish sauce and simmer for 2 minutes, or until it turns a light caramel colour. Pour in the stock and coconut water and cook for a further 3 minutes, or until the liquid returns to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the caramel.
  2. Meanwhile, place another frying pan over medium–high heat. Add the vegetable oil, then sauté the onion and garlic for 3 minutes, or until fragrant and softened.
  3. Add the onion and garlic to the caramel sauce, along with the chilli and spring onion.
  4. Place the mackerel fillets in the pan, sitting the thin tail end of each one on the spring onion so it doesn’t overcook. Simmer the mackerel in the sauce for 5 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and flakes when tested with a fork.
  5. Garnish with coriander and serve with steamed rice.
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