In Vietnam, fish simmered in caramel sauce is everyday soul food. The dark, bittersweet, savory fish is a great with rice. Depending on the cook and her/his resources, such a fish kho ("kaw") can be super intensely flavored and salty so as to get people to eat more rice than fish.
You can simmer most any kind of fish, big or small. On my last visit to my folks, my mom and dad served us a trout kho with strips of orange peel. It was full of citrus fragrance and not at all bitter, given the fact that the white pith is kept as part of the mix.
My husband liked it so much he suggested we make it when we got home. Our neighbor has a tangelo tree so I used one of the fruits. But you can feature orange like my folks. If you use store bought fruit, do try to buy an organic one or remember to scrub the wax of the fruit before using it.
If you have caramel sauce in your pantry, this is a great way to fix trout, which by the way, is among the good sustainable fish to consume in the United States. Caramel sauce is a stealth Vietnamese staple that's something worth having on hand.
Fish kho is great for advance preparation as it actually tastes better after sitting around for a couple of days. It ages, I suppose.
Trout and Orange Peel Simmered in
Serves 4 to 6 along with 2 or 3 other dishes
and cut into 1-inch steaks (keep or discard the head)
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons Caramel Sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
Peel of 1/2 orange or tangelo, cut into 1/4-inch-wide,
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1. In a saucepan, combine the fish with the peppercorns,
salt, caramel sauce and fish sauce, coating the fish well. Set aside for 15
minutes to marinate.
2. Add the peel, oil, and onion to the saucepan. Gently stir
thing so that these seasonings are well distributed.
3. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Cover, reduce
the heat to simmer gently, and cook for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to
combine. Uncover, add water to just cover the fish. Replace the lid and simmer
for 30 minutes. Uncover and adjust the heat, as necessary, to maintain a gentle
simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the liquid level has reduced by half.
4. Turn off the heat,
taste, and make any flavor adjustments before serving. When making in advance,
partially cover with the lid, and allow to cool completely before refrigerating.
Reheat over medium or medium-low heat, adding a little water to facilitate
things, as necessary. Enjoy with lots of rice.