Salmon Steak in Caramel Sauce (Vietnamese Ca Kho) Recipe

For many of us, cooking can be a way to unwind and express creativity. But if you’re looking to try something new or impress your friends and family with a dish bursting with bold flavors, look no further than this Vietnamese-inspired salmon steak in caramel sauce recipe.

This dish is an excellent crossroads between sweet and savory — a rustic and heartwarming meal that will have everyone at the dinner table asking for seconds. The key to this recipe is the caramel sauce, which slow-cooks with the fish steaks and becomes thick, sticky, and almost candy-like. Every bite of the tender salmon in its richly flavored sauce is pure bliss.

So let’s dive right in with this ca kho (braised fish) recipe that’s sure to delight your taste buds with authentic Vietnamese flavors. Whether you’re experienced in cooking or new to the kitchen, this dish is one that shouldn’t be missed. Let’s start cooking!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Salmon Steak in Caramel Sauce (Vietnamese Ca Kho)
Salmon Steak in Caramel Sauce (Vietnamese Ca Kho)

If you’re looking for a way to shake up your salmon routine, look no further than this Vietnamese-style salmon steak in caramel sauce recipe. This dish bursts with bold flavors and tantalizing textures that will have you coming back for more.

Why do we love it? Well, for starters, the tender and juicy salmon steak is cooked to perfection, absorbing all the sweet and savory flavors of the caramel sauce. The sauce itself is made with an irresistible combination of sugar, fish sauce, and fresh ginger. These ingredients slowly caramelize and thicken into a glorious sweet and savory sauce that clings perfectly to the succulent fish.

And don’t worry – this dish is not overly sweet despite the caramelization process. In fact, the balance between the sweetness of the caramel and the salty umami flavor of the fish sauce is spot on. It’s truly a flavor experience like no other.

What’s more, this dish is incredibly versatile. You can serve it as a standout main course at a dinner party or as a comforting family-style meal at home. It pairs wonderfully with steamed rice or green vegetables, making it easy to customize to your liking.

Trust us, once you take your first bite of this Vietnamese ca kho recipe with salmon steak in caramel sauce, you won’t be able to resist its charms.

Ingredient List

 A sweet and savory sensation: salmon steak in caramel sauce
A sweet and savory sensation: salmon steak in caramel sauce

Let’s talk about the ingredients needed for this Vietnamese Ca Kho recipe. Don’t worry, they’re easy to find and will definitely make your mouth water.

For the salmon steak, you will need:

  • 1 lb salmon steak (or fish steak of your choice)

  • Freshly cracked pepper

  • 2 tsp vegetable oil or olive oil

  • 1.5 tsp salt

For the caramel sauce, you will need:

  • 4 tbsp sugar

  • 2 tbsp water

  • 1/2 cup coconut water or plain water

  • 4 tbsp fish sauce

  • 2½ tbsp brown sugar (or more if you want it richer)

  • Juice from 1/2 a lime

  • Freshly grated ginger, roughly thumb-sized piece (or more if you’re a fan of ginger)

Remember that it is important to always use fresh ingredients to ensure the best taste possible.

The Recipe How-To

Now that we have gathered all the ingredients required for this amazing recipe of Salmon Steak in Caramel Sauce, let’s get cookin’! Here is the step-by-step guide on how to make a delectable caramelized salmon ca kho, Vietnamese style:

1. Clean and Season the Salmon

First things first, let’s clean the salmon steaks and pat them dry with paper towels. Sprinkle some freshly ground black pepper on both sides of the fish and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Let the salmon marinate for about 10-15 minutes.

2. Prepare the Caramel Sauce

In a separate pan, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat. Add 1 cup of brown sugar and cook it for a few minutes until it starts melting and becomes light brown in color. Don’t forget to stir constantly to avoid the sugar from burning.

3. Slowly Add the Fish Sauce Mixture

In a small bowl, mix together 4 teaspoons of fish sauce, 2 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger, and 4 cloves of minced garlic with some water (about 1/2 cup). Pour this mixture into the pan with the melted sugar while stirring constantly until everything is well combined.

4. Add Coconut Water and Reduce Heat

Once everything is well combined, add 1/2 cup of coconut water to the pan and reduce heat to low. Add back in the seasoned salmon steaks, making sure they are covered completely by the sauce. Let everything simmer for approximately around 20-30 minutes or until the sauce is thickened to your liking.

5. Garnish and Serve

When everything is done, remove from heat and garnish with thinly sliced onions and green onions. Serve hot with your favorite vegetables or rice dishes.

That’s it folks, our Vietnamese-style salmon steak in caramel sauce or “ca kho” recipe is ready to be enjoyed!

Substitutions and Variations

 This Vietnamese-inspired dish packs a punch of flavor
This Vietnamese-inspired dish packs a punch of flavor

If you’re looking to switch things up or adapt the recipe to your taste preferences, there are several substitutions and variations you can explore:

– Fish: Any firm, meaty fish can work well for this recipe. You can use catfish, cod, halibut, or even tuna steaks.

– Soy sauce: If you don’t have fish sauce on hand or want to use a vegetarian alternative, soy sauce is a good substitute. However, bear in mind that it will alter the flavour a bit.

– Sugar: Brown sugar is an excellent substitute for white sugar if you prefer a more complex aroma and darker colour.

– Cooking method: For those without a pressure cooker or stovetop claypot, you can still make this dish by baking the salmon steaks in the oven with the caramel sauce for about 15-20 minutes.

– Spices: If you enjoy a bit of heat in your dish, spicy chilli flakes or fresh chillies are great additions. Add them to the caramel sauce towards the end of cooking for best results.

– Vegetables: To make this dish more nutritious and add some texture, try adding some diced bell peppers, julienned carrots or sliced mushrooms to the dish.

By making some of these changes to the original recipe, you will be able to create new variations that suit your taste preferences while still experiencing the delicious Vietnamese caramelized fish flavour that makes Ca Kho Tộ so famous among foodies.

Serving and Pairing

 A deliciously glazed salmon steak to make your taste buds dance
A deliciously glazed salmon steak to make your taste buds dance

Vietnamese Ca Kho, also known as caramelized salmon, combines the richness and complexity of Vietnamese cuisine with the succulent flavors of fresh salmon steak. The result is a dish that tantalizes the palate and satisfies even the most discerning of foodies. But to truly unlock the full depth of this dish, it’s important to consider how to serve and pair it.

When serving Ca Kho, it’s best to present it as the centerpiece of your meal. Arrange a few pieces of the succulent salmon steak on a plate, and spoon over a generous amount of the thick, caramelized sauce. Garnish with fresh herbs like cilantro or basil to add a burst of color and flavor.

Pairing Ca Kho with other Vietnamese dishes is an excellent way to create an authentic Southeast Asian dining experience. Consider including some fresh spring rolls or a steaming bowl of pho on your menu for added diversity. Alternatively, serve with steamed rice, which will help soak up every last drop of the sauce.

If you prefer wine, look for a white wine with a bit of acidity to balance out the richness of the dish. A dry Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc are both excellent choices that are light enough not to overwhelm the flavors in the dish.

Craft beer enthusiasts might pair Ca Kho with a crisp IPA or pilsner. The bitterness and carbonation provided by these beers play nicely with the sweetness in the dish while refreshing your palate between bites.

In summary, you’ll want to highlight Ca Kho as the central attraction in your meal when serving it. Consider pairing it with other traditional Vietnamese dishes or steer towards beverages with crisp acidity to balance out its flavors.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Caramel sauce doesn't just belong on ice cream, give it a try on salmon!
Caramel sauce doesn’t just belong on ice cream, give it a try on salmon!

Vietnamese Ca Kho is a perfect dish to make-ahead and store, so you can enjoy it anytime. The caramel sauce actually deepens in flavor over time, making this dish even tastier the next day. Plus, you can easily reheat it with minimal effort.

To make-ahead, simply prepare the salmon steak in the caramel sauce as directed in the recipe. Once cooked, allow it to cool down completely before placing it in an airtight container or sealable plastic bag. Store it in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze it for later use.

When reheating, place the pre-cooked salmon steak with its infused sauce in a skillet over medium heat until heated through. You can also microwave it for 1-2 minutes (depending on your microwave’s power setting), but be sure to cover the dish loosely with a piece of wet paper towel on top to prevent the fish from drying out.

One thing to keep in mind is that repeated reheating may cause the texture of the fish to become tough and rubbery. Therefore, you should only reheat as much as needed and avoid overcooking.

Overall, whether you are going to store this delicious Vietnamese Ca Kho for later enjoyment or just reheat leftovers from yesterday’s meal, you will love how easy and tasty this dish is!

Tips for Perfect Results

 From sea to saucepan, this salmon dish is a must-try
From sea to saucepan, this salmon dish is a must-try

Cooking salmon steak in caramel sauce requires precision and attention to detail to ensure the best results. Here are some tips that will help you to create a perfect caramelized salmon dish:

1. Watch the fish steaks cá tộ slowly

When making ca kho, it is crucial to cook the salmon steaks slowly in order to ensure that they become tender and soak up all the flavors of the sauce. Keep an eye on the fish as it cooks and avoid overcooking it, as this can cause the meat to become tough and dry.

2. Don’t rush the caramelizing process

The caramelizing process is what gives this dish its unique flavor, but it takes time. The sugar in the sauce will need time to caramelize, which means that you should let it cook for at least 45 minutes to an hour.

3. Use fresh ingredients for maximum flavor

Using fresh ginger, garlic, and fish sauce will enhance the flavor of your dish significantly. Avoid using stale or expired ingredients as this can affect both the taste and quality of your meal.

4. Make sure your sauce is thick enough

Your ca kho sauce should be neither too thin nor too thick. If it’s too thin after cooking, then let it simmer a bit longer until it reduces and thickens. Similarly, if it’s too thick, add a bit of water or coconut water until you achieve your desired consistency.

5. Add a pinch of fresh cracked pepper

Pepper adds depth and complexity of flavor to your dish. Use freshly cracked black pepper rather than pre-ground pepper for maximum potency.

By following these tips and paying close attention to each step in the recipe, you’ll have perfectly cooked salmon steaks infused with a glorious sweet and savory Vietnamese-style braised fish dish in no time!

Bottom Line

In conclusion, the Vietnamese Ca Kho recipe for Salmon Steak in Caramel Sauce is a must-try for any avid BBQ chef. It is flavorful, sweet, and savory all at once. The combination of fresh cracked pepper, fish sauce, fresh ginger, and sugar on top of caramelized salmon steak creates an unforgettable taste experience that your guests will love.

This recipe is very versatile in terms of substitutions and variations. You can use different types of fish steaks like catfish or even baked salmon. You can also adjust the amount of sugar and fish sauce to your liking. Moreover, it’s a perfect main course dish that pairs well with a variety of sides including white rice or roasted vegetables.

It’s important to mention that this dish can be prepared ahead of time and stored easily without losing its flavor. Furthermore, our tips for perfect results make it easy for beginners to master this difficult Vietnamese style braised fish recipe.

If you’re still on the fence about trying this recipe out, we highly recommend giving it a chance. Not only is the final product delicious, but the experience of slowly caramelizing the salmon steak in the caramel sauce is truly spectacular.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your pressure cooker or clay pot and get cooking! This Vietnamese ca kho recipe for salmon is sure to impress even your toughest critics.

Salmon Steak in Caramel Sauce (Vietnamese Ca Kho)

Salmon Steak in Caramel Sauce (Vietnamese Ca Kho) Recipe

A typical Vietnamese rice dinner has a salty meat (thit kho) or fish dish (ca kho), plus a vegetables (blanched vegetables or stir fry) and clear broth soup. This dish is typical of the salty fish dish.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Vietnamese
Calories 259.6 kcal


  • 1 lb salmon steak (or any type of fish steak bone in)
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper (to taste)


  • Heat heavy sauce pan (large enough to accomodate fish without overlapping) on medium high.
  • Add sugar, melt and caramelize (you want it brown, but not burnt). Sugar should be brown and very hot.
  • Add minced ginger (be careful, it may sizzle if there’s water in the ginger) and stir for about 15 seconds.
  • Add fish sauce and fresh cracked pepper. Stir.
  • Add fish steaks, do not overlap fish to make sure each piece is soaked in the sauce.
  • Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Do not cover. The sauce needs to thicken into a light syrup. If the sauce gets too thick, add a teaspoon of water at a time to thin.
  • Turn fish over and cook for another 4 minutes or until fish is cooked depending on the thickness of your fish steaks.
  • Serve immediate with steamed white rice. The sauce is good on the rice.



Serving: 135gCalories: 259.6kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 23gFat: 12.3gSaturated Fat: 2.5gCholesterol: 66.9mgSodium: 761.7mgSugar: 12.9g
Keyword < 30 Mins, Easy, Inexpensive
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Shara @The Bird BBQ

Shara loves to experiment with different flavors and techniques when it comes to BBQ. She has been perfecting her craft for years and loves hosting backyard BBQs with friends & family. She often comes up with creative recipes that her guests rave about.