Cha cha is hands down my favourite Vietnamese fish dish.
A must try dish in Hanoi! For that matter, it’s this is a must try dish at your home too.
I was blown away by how much I loved this simple fish dish and ended up ordering it on numerous occasions on my recent trip to Hanoi. I’m not normally even a big fan of dill but it just works here and is one of all the ingredients that made this dish special.
In Hanoi they use local fresh water catfish. I use tilapia or lemon sole because it’s impossible to get fresh catfish where I live. If you can easily purchase catfish you might want to give that a try.
Personally, I think the lemon sole used here is just as good if not better.
What to eat cha ca with…
I love it with rice vermicelli noodles. White rice is also a good accompaniment. For that matter, if you’re trying to eat fewer carbs, cha ca is very good on its own.
Step by step photos…
If you like this cha ca, you might like to try some of these Vietnamese favourites too…
- 700g (1 ½ lbs) tilapia or lemon sole , cut into 5cm (2 inch) chunks
- 4 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil (approx.)
- FOR THE MARINADE
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
- FOR THE DRESSING
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp lime juice
- 2 red bird’s eye chillies, cut into thin rings (more or less to taste
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- TO FINISH
- 1 – 2 red spur chillies, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic
- 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 1 huge bundle of dill
- 3 spring onions, slit once down the centre
- 4 tbsp roasted peanuts, to garnish
- Place 200g of vermicelli rice noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Hot water from a kettle is fine.
- Allow to soak for about 10 minutes or until cooked through to your liking. Drain and keep warm.
- Now whisk the marinade ingredients together in a mixing bowl and add the fish. Mix well to coat and set aside while you prepare the rest of the recipe. Whisk the sauce ingredients together in another bowl.
- This sauce should be prepared to taste so adjust the sweet, sour, savoury and spicy flavours to your own liking so add the ingredients together slowly and to your preference. I like it kind of chunky but you might prefer a finer cut. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.
- When the oil is really hot, place the fish in the pan in one layer. Fry on one side until crispy brown and the fish easily comes free from the pan.
- Turn over each pieces and continue frying until almost cooked through and a light golden brown all over.
- Add the chopped garlic, chillies and chopped spring onions and fry to cook through. Drain any excess oil. You want about a tablespoon and a half left in the pan.
- Top with a good healthy handful of fresh dill and the spring onions and push these right into the oil in the pan to cook slightly. Take off the heat and serve over the vermicelli rice noodles, drizzled with some of the dressing and some peanuts.
I hope you enjoy this cha ca recipe as much as my family and I do. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.