Snapper pan-fried with turmeric and dill

Snapper pan-fried with turmeric and dill

The Food of Vietnam
Alan Benson

This dish is called ‘Cha ca’, and is one of Hanoi’s most loved dishes. So much so that there is an entire street named after it, where you can find many restaurants serving only this dish. A must-visit on Cha Ca Street is a restaurant called Cha Ca La Vong, which has been serving this dish for four generations.


Quantity Ingredient
500g boneless snapper fillets, skin on
4 spring onions
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon red curry powder
250g plain yoghurt
4 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 bunch dill
1 lemon, halved
100g bean sprouts
100g rice vermicelli noodles, cooked according to packet instructions
4 tablespoons roasted peanuts, crushed
250ml * nuoc mam cham dipping sauce [rid:8084]


  1. Cut the snapper into 4 cm pieces, place in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Remove and discard the roots from the spring onions. Chop off the spring onion whites, reserving the green stems, and place in a mortar. Add the garlic and pound to a paste with a pestle.
  3. Add the spring onion paste to the fish, along with the turmeric, curry powder, yoghurt, fish sauce, shrimp paste, sugar and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Roughly chop one-third of the dill, add to the fish and gently mix together.
  4. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  5. Finely shred the green spring onion stems. Chop the remaining dill and set aside.
  6. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the remaining oil, then fry the fish fillets on one side for 1 minute.
  7. Turn the fillets over, then cook for a further 2 minutes. Squeeze the lemon into the pan and cook for a further minute, or until the fish is cooked through.
  8. In a mixing bowl, toss together the bean sprouts, shredded green spring onion stems, remaining dill and the noodles. Transfer to a serving platter and arrange the fish on top.
  9. Garnish with the peanuts, drizzle with the nuoc mam cham and serve.
The Food of Vietnam
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