The best savory caramel sauce ever for Vietnamese caramelized fish in claypot

What is the signature food of Vietnamese cuisine?

My friend one time asked.

Well, when it comes to Vietnamese foods, everybody knows Phở (beef noodle), gỏi cuốn (spring rolls), chả giò (fried rolls), they all are fabulous.

However, when it comes to a truly signature comfort home made food that families routinely eat on a regular basis, I’d bet that every Vietnamese would pick salted caramelized fish in clay pot.


The main ingredient of this dish is fish, of course, you would say.

But the key here is salted caramel sauce which is made from nước mắm (fish sauce) and sugar.

Mixing fish sauce with caramelized sugar?

No, never you would yell.

But trust me, I 100% guarantee that you will be surprisingly pleased with the taste of the amazingly salty sweet and greasy flavors of this dish.

I’ve met so many people who don’t like Phở, but I’ve never heard any complain about caramelized fish.

If you do, I would say you didn’t eat it at a right place or didn’t have a right salted caramel sauce.

My Vietnamese salted caramel sauce recipe will give you a great caramelized fish.

I gave this recipe to so many friends of mine and get tons of compliments.

Some said it’s the greatest caramelized fish ever they’ve ever eaten.

However, it is readily attainable even for an amateur cook.

Traditionally, this sauce requires you to mix water and sugar, then caramelize it into a certain level, then add more water to make a liquid caramel sauce.

The point of doing this is to arrest the cooking process so that the caramel doesn’t burn to a bitter black stage.

But for me, I make salted caramel using oil and fish sauce.

No water added.

These changes will maximize all spices’ flavor, make them all bloom and meld, then all of them shall give the caramelized fish a richer, deeper and bolder flavor.

I always have the salted caramel sauce pre-made, use it to marinate fish for an hour or so ahead of time then braise it in a heavy skillet in medium low heat.


NO WATER ADDED when you cook braised fish.

The juice will come out from the fish while you marinate it.

Claypot is just for styling purpose since it get burn easily while cook.

For your convenience, you can make this sauce and put it in a tight glass jar, then store it in the refrigerator, it can last for at least a month or so (I use it every week so there is nothing left after a month:) ).

Enjoy this dish, and please let me know what you think when you make it yourself. Beauty appetit.^-^.


– 3 TSPs minced shallot

– 1 TSP minced garlic

– 1 tsp chili pepper flake(if prefer)

– 1/2 tsp ground pepper

–  2 TSPs brown sugar

– 2 1/2 TSPs white sugar

– 3 TSPs oil

– 4 TSPs fish sauce

Add 3 TSPs oil into a hot saucepan.

Put 2 TSP brown sugar and cook over low heat.


Swirling the pan constantly, until brown and caramelized.


Remove pan from heat and stir the 4TSPs fish sauce and 2 1/2 TSPs white sugar into the caramel.

 Return the pan to low heat and gently boil for about couple minutes while stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Let it cool down.


Stir in the minced shallots and garlic.


Add chili pepper flake, ground pepper of dried chili pepper (if you wish to).


You’re done.

Here comes the beautifully and tasty Vietnamese salted caramel sauce for the best caramelized fish in claypot ever!






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