Ca Kho To was a popular dish in southern Vietnam since meat and fish were plentiful. Obviously many types of fish were available there, but certain dishes tend to stick to certain varieties or be influenced by local availability. The cooks even heated up the clay pot to fool unsuspecting customers into believing it was the actual cooking vessel.
What type of fish?
Ca loc (snakehead fish) is commonly used in Vietnam because it’s cheap. Another popular and pricier option was ca tre. Both of these are only available in the freezer sections of Vietnamese markets. This frozen variety is not worth trying. Instead, people here tend to avoid the ‘fishier’ options like mackarel and go for catfish.
Its popular for its higher flesh content with less bones–a pretty American choice right? This braised catfish is eaten at any time of the day, year-round. A common practice is to use the filets from the center to make this braised fish recipe, and use the heads and tails for canh chua (a sour soup full of veggies–recipe coming soon!). Ca kho is a very rich and salty dish, so it goes well with many veggies to balance it out. Serve this with sliced cucumbers, boiled vegetables, or even some pickled mustard greens (dua chua) despite the salt content.