Vietnamese Caramel Fish with GalangalI learned this recipe on a recent visit to Vietnam. It surprised me how well the usually quite strong mackerel married with the richness of the caramel & coconut milk.


3-4 mackerel fillets, cut in large chunks
3 red Asian shallots, diced finely
3.5 tbsp fish sauce
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
1.5 tbsp sugar
oil for frying
150 ml coconut milk
3 cm knob fresh galangal, peeled, cut into thin strips
1 long red chilli, cut into 5 mm rings
pinch fresh ground pepper
2 shallots, sliced
¼ bunch coriander sprigs


  1. Combine the mackerel with the Asian shallots, black pepper and 2.5 tbsp of the fish sauce. Marinate for 20 minutes.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, add the sugar and 1.5 tbsp of water. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar is a rich golden colour, about 5 minutes. Standing away from the pan to avoid splatter, pour in 2 cups of water. When the splattering has stopped, stir until the caramel sauce is smooth, about 5 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 C. In a sauté pan, over medium-high flame, heat a little oil. Brown the fish on both sides. Add the remaining fish sauce, caramel sauce, coconut milk, galangal and chilli. Bring to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat.
  4. Transfer the fish and sauce to a clay pot or casserole dish, cover and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for a further 4 minutes.
  5. Serve the fish in the clay pot, sprinkle with the extra pepper, green shallots and coriander.

Serves 6