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Cha Ca La Vong (Hanoi Turmeric Fish)


Cha Ca La Vong (Hanoi Turmeric Fish)

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Today, in line with the official launch of my cookbook – Lemongrass & Ginger in the UK and AUS, I thought I would share a recipe from the book.

I heard so much about Cha Ca La Vong in Hanoi. It is a restaurant that serves only one dish – Cha Ca, which is grilled fish. However, It did make me very curious on how the family-run restaurant had managed to make its name big and earned a place on the map for serving only one dish.

I promised myself that I wasn’t going to leave Hanoi until I tried it, so I did!  I learnt and tasted this dish during my short visit to Hanoi a few years ago. I really love it! It was fun, simple and delicious. It came in a pan over a charcoal burner, where the oil was still bubbling away in the pan. Served alongside are different kind of herbs, rice vermicelli, nuoc cham dipping sauce, sliced chillies and roasted peanuts.

Now, it’s not a dish that you have travel miles away to savour, you could prepare and cook it from scratch in your comfy kitchen!

p/s: Two signed copies of Lemongrass & Ginger to giveaway! If you haven’t entered, please click here! Closing date is 16/04/2012.

Cha Ca La Vong (Hanoi Turmeric Fish)

Prep Time:

Cook Time:



For the Cha Ca La Vong (Hanoi Turmeric Fish):

3cm/1 1⁄4in piece of fresh turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped, or 2 tsp ground turmeric
1cm/1⁄2in piece of galangal, peeled and roughly chopped 1cm/1⁄2in piece of root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp sugar
a generous pinch of ground
550g/1lb 4oz skinned monkfish, cod or pollack fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
185g/6 1⁄2oz dried rice vermicelli
3 tbsp sunflower oil 40g/1 1⁄2oz dill, trimmed 10 spring onions, cut into
6cm/2 1⁄2in lengths and sliced 15g/1⁄2oz chives, cut into
5cm/2in lengths (optional)

To serve:

50g/1 3⁄4oz/1⁄3 cup skinless raw peanuts
1 small handful of Thai basil leaves
1 small handful of coriander leaves
2 red chillies, deseeded and sliced (optional)
1 recipe quantity Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce

Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce:
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp chopped red bird’s eye chilli
2 tbsp caster sugar
5 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce


1. Put the fresh turmeric, if using, galangal, ginger and garlic in a mortar or a food processor and pound with a pestle or blend into a smooth paste. Transfer to a large bowl, add the ground turmeric, if using, and combine with the fish sauce, sugar and ground pepper. Tip the fish into the bowl and toss until each piece of fish is well coated in the paste. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

2 Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat, then add the peanuts and dry-roast until fragrant and starting to brown. Remove from the heat, roughly chop and leave to one side.

3 Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and cook the rice vermicelli for 2–3 minutes until softened. Drain, refresh under running cold water, pat dry with kitchen paper and divide into four individual serving bowls.

4 Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the marinated fish and fry, stirring occasionally, for 6–7 minutes until crisp, golden brown and cooked through. Add the dill, spring onions and chives, if using. Toss and cook for a few more seconds until wilted. Remove from the heat and transfer to a serving dish.

5. To make Nuoc Cham dipping sauce, put all the ingredients in a bowl, add 2 tablespoons water and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Transfer the bowls of noodles, accompaniments and turmeric fish to the table for everyone to assemble their own dish.



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