Vietnamese caramel-braised Basa

I went to the supermarket and while scouring the discount food aisle, I saw basa on offer.

As a fisherman’s daughter, it’s not often I’ll come across any seafood I haven’t tried, nor even heard of, so I was naturally intrigued. A quick google search told me that basa is a a type of catfish native to Thailand and Vietnam.

So I looked specifically for a thai or vietnamese recipe and eventually found this one, which involves braising the fish in caramel. I’d never heard of that before either.

A new fish and a new recipe – what could go wrong? As it turns out, nothing! This is delicious!

The sugar in the sauce doesn’t result in a sickly sweet sauce due to the kick from the chilli and the savoury notes from the garlic and onion.

Recipe from Olive magazine

  • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 4tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 finely chopped shallot
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • oil
  • 2 Basa fillets
  • 1 thinly sliced chilli
  • 1 spring onion, sliced lengthways
  • handful of mint leaves
  • steamed basmati rice to serve
  • handful of samphire
  1. Put the caster sugar in a frying pan with a splash of water. Heat until the sugar dissolves then boil to a deep golden caramel. Add the fish sauce and splash of boiling water and melt any hard bits back into the sauce. Add the shallots and garlic into the pan and simmer for 2 mins before cooling.
  2. Pat the fish dry with kitchen paper. Heat a little oil in a non stick pan. Add the fish and fry the nicest side down for 1 minute, turn over then spoon over the caramel sauce and keep cooking until the fish is cooked and the caramel sauce has reduced a little and glazed the fish. Serve scattered with chilli, spring onion, mint, samphire and steamed rice.