VIETNAMESE FISH HOT POT (CA KHO TO)
750g (1lb 10oz) firm white fish such as monkfish or halibut, chopped 150g (5½oz) golden caster sugar 3tbsp Asian fish sauce 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped A thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped 5 shallots, peeled and finely chopped A bunch of spring onions, chopped into 2cm (¾in) pieces 2 whole red Thai or bird’s eye chillies, pricked A splash of groundnut oil 400ml (14fl oz) coconut water (from supermarkets) Jasmine rice, greens and fresh lime, to serve First put your fish in a bowl to marinate with 50g (1¾oz) of the sugar, the fish sauce, garlic, ginger, shallots, spring onions, chillies and a pinch of black pepper.
Meanwhile make caramel. Place the remaining sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan with 100ml (3½fl oz) of water and bring to the boil on medium heat. Don’t stir, just swirl occasionally.Keep it boiling for 10 minutes or until you have a golden caramel liquid.
Now cook the fish. Place a clay pot or earthenware dish on a medium heat and add the oil. Add the fish, reserving the marinade, and seal for 2-3 minutes altogether. Pour in the marinade, caramel and coconut water. Gently bring to the boil then simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes until the fish is cooked and the sauce is reduced and sticky. If it looks too dry, add a little more coconut water.
Serve immediately with rice, greens and a squeeze of lime.