Five years ago we had a lovely three week long holiday in Vietnam where we ate and learned how to cook some amazing food
Cha ca stood out as one of our favourite meals there
Cha ca is a Hanoi special. In fact you must go to Cha Ca La Vong in the Old Quarter where that is all they serve
Cha ca comprises fish marinaded in turmeric, ginger, garlic and fish sauce
The fish is then fried and placed on top of a bowl of noodles, veggies and fresh herbs – usually dill
However I couldn’t get any dill today, so I’m serving mine with mint, coriander, Thai basil and Vietnamese mint – YUM
However I also like to put all the components into rice paper rolls to make a big fat juicy roll
Cha ca is the perfect meal to cook during summer as it requires minimal cooking and is lovely and light
It’s relatively quick to prepare as well, especially if you have a mandolin to help you chop the veggies
Plus it showcases all of summer’s beautiful fresh herbs and veggies
So if you can’t get to Vietnam, bring Vietnam to you and make this gorgeous dish
Either way – in a bowl or a roll – you get to choose
You are sure to love it
- 2 spring onions, white and green parts separated
- 3 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 600 g skinless snapper or ling or other firm white-fleshed fillets fish fillets, cut into 4 cm pieces
- freshly ground black pepper
- 100 grams dry vermicelli noodles or 50 grams vermicelli noodles and 8-12 rice paper rolls
- 2 carrots, finely sliced
- 1 medium cucumber, finely sliced
- ½ cup peanuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 4 cups lightly packed of herbs like mint, coriander, Thai basil, Vietnamese mint
- Other veggies – shredded red cabbage, sliced radishes, spinach leaves, blanched green beans
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- Finely chop the white part of the spring onions and combine with ginger, garlic, turmeric and fish sauce in a food processor or mortar and pestle until it forms a coarse paste.
- Place fish in a large bowl, tip paste on top, add pepper, then stir to coat fish evenly. Cover and set aside in the fridge to marinade for at least 1 hour.
- To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine well.
- Put the vermicelli noodles in a large bowl, cover with boiling water and stand for 5 minutes. Drain.
- Heat some oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat.
- Chop green part of the spring onion into 4 cm lengths and add the the pan. Cook, tossing often, for 2-3 minutes or until the spring onion is lightly browned. Remove and place in a bowl.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add a little more oil to the pan.
- Add half of the fish, or as much as will comfortably fit in your pan and cook, turning once, for 5–6 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
- When cooked, remove from pan and place on top of the spring onions, then repeat with remaining fish.
- Noodle Bowls:
- Divide the noodles among bowls, top with veggies, herbs, peanuts, then fish and spring onions.
- Drizzle with sauce and eat
- Rice Paper rolls:
- Place rice paper in water for about 6 seconds. Remove and place on large plate.
- Top with veggies, noodles, herbs, peanuts, fish and spring onions. Drizzle with sauce then roll up but tucking the end closest to you in first, then fold in each side, then roll up to make a sausage shape. Eat and repeat!