Nuoc Mam Recipes

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Ca Kho Recipe: Vietnamese Braised Salmon in Caramel Sauce Recipe

Even though I live in a 9-person household, over the years baby Aria and I have become the only "omnivores". I don't know if her taste buds will change over time and she'll copy her father's vegetarian diet, but for now, Aria enjoys meat and seafood. Last evening, I prepared a typical Vietnamese meal for ourselves called "cá hồi kho nước dừa", which roughly translates to "braised salmon simmered in coconut water". As a cook and especially as a mom, I took such pleasure in watching her appreciate the meal I had prepared for her. 

The fish is cooked in a caramel sauce called "nước màu" ("colored water"), which is a "savory" sauce made of caramel where the boiling point of sugar was reached to add a brown color and to impart a slightly bitter aroma. The sauce is balanced with spicy, fresh red Thai chili peppers, ginger, nước mắm (fish sauce), whole mint leaves and green onions. My favorite way to serve this "cá kho" dish is with steamed jasmine rice and blanched Vietnamese leafy greens. It's a healthy, nutritious and complete meal. Baby Aria loved it and I'm sure you will, too. If you'd like to start with a more inexpensive fish, you could prepare the same dish with catfish or mackerel.


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Shrimp and Crab Eggrolls (Cha Gio Recipe) Recipe

We're two days away from Tết (Vietnamese New Year). Every year, Maman's specialty was to prepare eggrolls. In my opinion, she makes the best eggrolls (chả giò in Vietnamese) I've ever had. Of course, I'm a little biased. To find my mom's authentic recipe, check it out in my second cookbook Banh Mi.

For this version, I prepared a seafood filling with shrimp and crab and loads of flavorful mushrooms. I've posted a vegetarian version in the past for you if you need it. 

The countdown is nearly over and we'll soon be starting the year of the horse!


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Vietnamese Shrimp in Caramel Sauce (Tom Kho Recipe) Recipe

This evening, I finished preparing dinner but realized everything was vegetarian. And if you think like me, vegetarian food is good but it's still lacking one thing. What's missing, you might ask? I looked at our dining table and I immediately knew what would make dinner complete: a dish of shrimp.

I had one pound of small shrimp begging to be cooked. So in less than 30 minutes, I whipped up some tôm kho, which is Vietnamese for shrimp in caramel sauce. The key is the amber-color sauce cooked with coconut soda (if you're lucky and have fresh coconut water, it would taste even better), onion, garlic and a hint of good quality nước mắm (fish sauce). Even though the most of my family are vegetarians, if cooked properly, the scent of this seafood dish doesn't bother them.


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Ca Kho Gung Recipe (Catfish Recipe) Recipe

Cá bông lau, "catfish" in English, is a very common fish in Vietnamese cooking. There are numerous preparations, and I've shared some in the past. Today, I prepared a caramelized sauce made of ginger and kaffir lime leaves called cá kho gừng to go with the catfish. It gives the fish a lovely light brown color.

The addition of kaffir lime leaves and red chiles gives a special zing to this seafood dish. And as usual a bowl of freshly made white jasmine rice makes a superb pairing!


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Vietnamese Braised Catfish in Fish Sauce (Ca Kho) Recipe

Cá kho literally translates to "braised fish". I cooked catfish steaks in a caramel fish sauce and let simmer until the delicate, flaky fish became an opaque white color for this fairly common Vietnamese dish.

I served the seafood dish with brown jasmine rice and leafy greens. I'm on day 2 of my "back-into-shape" plan, but don't worry, flavor is not being sacrificed!


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