Nuoc Mam Recipes

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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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Chicken Eggrolls (Cha Gio Recipe) Recipe

We're only a week away from Tết, the Asian New Year. And of course, food is what makes the festivities so much fun. Eggrolls (chả giò) are Maman's must-have dish for the celebration. My favorite version is chicken eggrolls. I usually use dark meat (chicken thighs and legs), which make the dish more moist and flavorful. I also mix in fried jicama and carrots for added crunch.

Preparing them isn't that complicated; they're labor-intensive, but if you have a large crew of little helpers as I do, rolling them is a piece of cake. All you need to do next is deep-fry them and enjoy them wrapped in lettuce along with rice noodles.


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Vietnamese Chicken Rice with Ginger Fish Sauce Recipe

If you're Vietnamese, you probably heard your mom telling you when you were a child not to waste food because it's "tội chết" (dreadfully sinful). Yesterday, I made gà muối ớt (salt and chile chicken) and there was no way I would toss the precious, flavorful chicken broth. So what to do with all the leftover broth? I made chicken rice with it.

The preparation is similar to making basmati rice, with the main difference being that jasmine rice is used. Jasmine rice is a lot trickier to cook though, because the rice will get mushy very quickly if you don’t keep an eye on it. 

I served the rice with nước mắm gừng, which is ginger-flavored fish sauce. I wanted to make the flavors more intense so I used pure sugar cane juice instead of regular water. This dipping sauce is so good, I could drink it all by itself!


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Ca Nuc Kho (Traditional Vietnamese Whole Mackerel in Sugarcane Sauce) Recipe

Cá nục kho mía literally translates to "mackerel braised in sugarcane sauce". It's the fish traditionally served in  a Vietnamese claypot. The dark caramel ginger sauce is made from galangal and sugarcane juice (nước mía in Vietnamese).

Mackerel is high in Omega 3 oils but can have a strong fishy flavor. There are several steps that can be taken to ensure this dish is absolutely delicious. First, when you're at the market, make sure the fish is fresh; fresh mackerel shouldn't smell fishy. Look for clear-eyed fish with bright, shiny scales. The second step is to clean the inside of the fish thoroughly in several water baths and let the fish rest in a vinegary solution for a few minutes. The last part is to use a lot of shallots and galangal, which has a sharper, more aromatic flavor than ginger. It's slightly more expensive than ginger but it's well worth it.

I served the fish with steamed jasmine rice and sautéed rau muống (Vietnamese pea shoot tendrils) with fresh chestnuts and wood ear mushrooms.


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