Braised Spotted Scats with Bush Grapes (Cá Nâu Kho Trái Giác)

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Save Recipe Braised Spotted Scat with Bush Grapes
  • 2Servings
  • 20 mPrep Time
  • 10 mCook Time
  • 30 mReady In
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The spotted scat (Scatophagus argus, Vietnamese: cá nâu) is a species of fish in the scat family Scatophagidae. In Vietnam, this scat fish is distributed in all sea waters from North to South, from offshore to coastal estuaries. The fish lives in rock crevices, coral reefs, sluice gates, in brackish regions where there are many seaweeds which it feeds on.

spotted scats
Spotted scats (Scatophagus argus)

The scat fish can be used in so many ways: deep-fried, braised (slow-cooked), roasted in leaves… Braising is probably the most common cooking practice. Some common ingredients to be paired with the scat: fermented rice, daikon radish, star fruits, and bush grapes…

Bush grapes are the berries of a wild grape vine known as Cayratia trifolia (Vietnamese: giác, vác). In Vietnam, ripe bush grapes can be used to brew bush grape wine, while green ones can be cooked as a source for acidity, commonly found in fish sour soup.

Bush grapes - Cayratia trifolia
Bush grapes – Cayratia trifolia

This dish, braised spotted scat fish with bush grapes (Cá nâu kho trái giác), is part of southwestern Vietnamese cuisine.

scat fish with bush grapes
Scat fish with bush grapes


Step by step method

  • Prepping scats

    Scale the fish, gut them and remove the internal bowels and gills, and rinse first with water, then with some rice wine (to remove the fish smell).

  • Prepping the braising sauce

    In a saucepan, heat 2 TB cooking oil, and sautee the minced garlic and 2 crushed chili, then set aside. Next, add 500 ml filtered water, 1 TB sugar, 1 TB salt, 1 TB msg, 3 TB fish sauce, and 2 TB caramel paste. Stir and bring the sauce to a boil.

  • Braising

    When the sauce reaches a boil, add the scats, and bring to a boil again. Add bush grapes until the grapes are soften. Add the chopped spring onions and sauteed garlic to fish the dish.

Tips & variations

  • If you don't have braise water or paste, just caramelize some sugar.

  • The same cooking way with tamarind, and fermented rice.

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