Vietnamese Caramel Salmon with Sticky Rice

This is a brilliantly simple Southeast Asian recipe, traditionally cooked in a clay pot and served, still sizzling, straight to the table. In Vietnam it is often made with catfish, but fillets of salmon make a delicious substitute. The sticky and sweet caramel sauce is infused with the wonderful aromas of ginger and chile. Make sure that you use a super clean pan, preferably one that is not nonstick. If your sugar begins to crystallize, simply add a few tablespoons of water and you should be able to rescue it. Serve the salmon with warm rice and a generous spoonful of the aromatic caramel sauce.
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 30 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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150 grams (5.5 ounces) superfine sugar

3 large cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 red chile, finely sliced

1 thumb-size piece ginger, peeled and julienned

3 tablespoons fish sauce (preferably Vietnamese)

4 salmon fillets, skinned

2 heads bok choy, halved lengthwise

1 small bunch fresh cilantro, leaves stripped

1 small bunch spring onions, finely sliced and placed in cold water

Sticky rice, for serving


  1. Place a large, high-sided frying pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and 100 milliliters (1/2 cup) water and cook for 5 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally until you are left with a dark caramel. Do not be tempted to stir the mixture.
  2. Add the garlic, chile and ginger and mix through. Pour in 50 milliliters (1/4 cup) water and the fish sauce and bring to a steady boil. Add in the salmon fillets and bok choy, turning to coat completely in the caramel mixture.
  3. Reduce the heat and cook until the salmon is cooked all the way through, 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and garnish with cilantro and drained spring onion curls.
  4. Serve straight away in warmed bowls with warm sticky rice.

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