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Seared Fish with Vietnamese Caramel Sauce, Rice + Broccoli

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Dairy Free
  • Gluten Free
  • Pescatarian
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Why we love it:

This caramel sauce hits all of the notes - sweet, savory, tangy and just a little salty, too. It’s wonderful on veggies but the original version is to braise a pork shoulder with this sauce.


  • 1 cup Basmati Rice (White)
  • 114 cups Water
  • 34 teaspoon Kosher Salt (divided)
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce (use tamari for GF)
  • 1 teaspoon Fish Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Rice Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
  • 114 pounds Sole Filet (any flaky white fish is ok - try cod, halibut or snapper)
  • 1 teaspoon Canola Oil
  • 1 pound Broccoli

Cooking Instructions

  • 1. RICE

    Bring the rice and water to a boil with a ½ teaspoon salt. Stir well then turn down to low heat and cover tightly. Steam for 17 minutes, then lift the lid and stir. Cover and let sit until you’re ready to eat.


    *Boiling sugar is the hottest thing in your kitchen and you do NOT want to touch it. Keep kids far away from this step*

    In a heavy bottomed pot, place the sugar over medium high heat. Take a moment to spread the sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan. Let it cook without stir for about 3 - 5 minutes or until it begins melting (use this time to measure out the soy sauce, fish sauce and vinegar all together in a measuring cup). At this point, stop doing anything else and stand near the caramel.

    Carefully, pick up the pan and gently swirl it a few times to get any dry sugar to start melting. Once it’s all liquid, turn the heat to medium and set the timer for 3 minutes. Let it boil, swirling the pan every 30 seconds or so.

    When the timer goes off, turn off the heat, step back and pour in the soy sauce and other liquids. The caramel will sizzle and boil, just let it do its thing. When the sizzling stops, return to medium heat and now you can use a rubber spatula to stir and combine everything. Melt in the butter and once it’s all together you can set it aside off the heat.

  • 3. FISH

    Slice fish into 4 filets or however many you need. Pat dry and sprinkle with a light pinch salt. Heat a grill pan or large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then sear the filets with the former skin side up. Cook for about 3 - 4 minutes or until they’re opaque on that side and perhaps a little golden brown. Carefully flip. Spoon the caramel sauce into the pan, over the fish. Cook for 1 minute, then flip the fish again and simmer for 1 minute or until the fish is just cooked through.


    While fish is cooking, separate broccoli into florets and slice the tender parts of stems into rounds (or save stems for broccoli cheddar soup - we have that recipe!). Steam the florets in a stovetop or microwave steamer until just tender.

  • 5. SERVING

    Serve the rice, topped with a filet of fish and broccoli on the side. Spoon the caramel sauce over top to taste.

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    don’t forget to use tamari instead of regular soy sauce
    just omit the butter, you can use 1 teaspoon of coconut oil or nothing
    the fish sauce is key in the original dish, but if you don’t have it or dislike it you can use 1 teaspoon of oyster sauce
  • SOLE:
    pretty much any filet of white fish works here - shrimp would also taste great
  • FISH:
    seared pork chops would be a great substitute and I’d guess that chicken breasts would also work - just cook chicken or pork appropriately
  • RICE:
    noodles, quinoa, or grain of choice
    the sauce is reminiscent of teriyaki so they might try this. As usual, you can sear their piece without sauce and let them dip instead of seeing it coated. Serve with rice and veggies that you know are a win

Prep Ahead & Use It Up

  1. Steam the rice
  2. Prep the broccoli florets but don’t steam them
  3. Make the caramel sauce
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