If I can not travel, my mind will, memories of Vietnamese food is driving me mad. I will happily travel to Vietnam just to have dinner at a homestay to have a portion of cơm lam (rice steamed in bamboo over a fire).
Somethings are just so damn good that it makes it easy to return time and time again. A number of years ago before going to Hanoi for the first time I had done a lot of research of where and what to eat, and at the top of my list with Pho, Bánh mì, Bun bo nam bo, Banh cuon, Bún chả bunca was Chả Cá.
The food in Vietnam is pretty healthy with so much herbs, loads of greens with the focus on freshness, balance of sweet, sour and salt.
In the old quarter many restaurants specialise in one dish, I love this about eateries in Hanoi, they do not have restaurants with long menus, instead they focus on one, and do that dish very well, in the old quarter many restaurants specialise in cooking the tumeric spiced fish at your table, admittedly sometimes it does feel a little touristy, so finding the right spot is important.
We make this at home often, especially on those hot summer nights this is a very light refreshing dinner option. I often place the marinated fish like Jacopever in the weber on a used oak wine barrel plank and roast. It gives it a little smokiness which works so well with the combination of turmeric, ginger, garlic, dill, spring onion, peanut and fish sauce. Traditionally made with snakehead or catfish, any firm white fleshed fish will work.
Served with cold rice vermicelli noodles, handfuls of dill and spring onion with roasted peanuts with vietnamese mint, coriander and for me the part that brings it together – nuoc cham (combination of fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and red chili). If you want to be more traditional make a shrimp paste sauce – Mam Ruoc Cham.
So weather you call it Chả Cá Thăng Long, Chả Cá Lã Vọng, Chả Cá Hà Nội, or just Chả Cá do not wait for your next trip, make it at home and pretend you hear the noise of a thousand scooters outside
Prep Time:40 min
Cooking Time:20 min
600g Jacopever fillets
Oil for cooking
2 tbsp Oil
2 tsp Sugar White
1 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Fish Sauce
¼ Onion Red Chopped Very Fine
2 tsp Turmeric Ground
1 tbsp Ginger Fresh & Grated Fine
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Bunch Of Dill
10 Spring Onions, Cut 2 cm Lengths With the White Parts Sliced in Half Again in Length.
½ Cup Roasted Peanuts, Whole or Chopped
Extra Peanuts toasted as needed
300 g Rice Vermicelli dried
Handful of Mint Roughly Torn
Handful of Vietnamese Mint Roughly Torn
Bunch of Coriander Roughly Chopped or Picked
Red Chilies Red Chopped
250ml Nuoc Cham
1 ea Lime cut into Wedges
Nuoc Cham Sauce
4 tbsp Water
2 tbsp Sugar White
4 tbsp Lime Juice Fresh
2 tbsp Fish Sauce
2 Clove Garlic Minced
2 ea Birds eye Chili finely sliced
1. Combine all ingredients for fish marinade and add cut Jacopever chunks, leave for +/- 45 min.
2. Make the nuoc cham dressing by combining sugar with lime juice add the fish sauce, chili, garlic and water. It must be sour, sweet and salty.
3. Cut spring into 2.5 cm long pieces with white of spring onion split in length in half.
4. Place rice vermicelli noodles in boiling water for 2-3 minutes or according to cooking instructions. Cool and place one side.
5. Heat pan and add oil, add the fish and cook until golden brown. Do not overcrowd the pan. Repeat the second and third batch. Best part is the golden crispy bits.
6. Cook Spring and dill with leftover marinade from fish until wilted. Add fish on top.
7. To serve, place cold rice vermicelli in bowl, add fish with dill, add fresh greens with peanuts and top with nuoc cham dressing.
Try the dill and the spring onion in the weber