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Cha Ca

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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.

Cha Ca

So good! The fresh dill and the fried fish go so well together.

Which fish?

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…

Ingredients for cha ca

Get all your ingredients together before starting. That makes things a lot easier.

Marinade for cha ca

Whisk the marinade ingredients together and set aside.

marinating fish

Add the fish to the marinade and stir well to coat.

Dressing prepared

Stir the dressing ingredients together. I like mine chunky but you could cut the garlic and chilli finer.

Frying fish

Add oil to the pan and fry the fish on both sides over medium high heat until nicely browned and about 80% cooked through.

Adding garlic, chillies and spring onions to pan

When almost cooked through, add the chopped garlic, spring onions (scallions) and chillies to the pan for about 30 seconds.

Cha ca almost ready

Move the fish to the centre and top with the fresh dill and whole, slit spring onions (scallions)

Cooking cha ca

Press the fresh herbs into the oil to wilt some.

Cha ca ready to serve

Serve hot from the pan at the table.

Cha ca

Place some vermicelli rice noodles in a bowl and top with the fish, herbs and dressing.

If you like this recipe, you might like to try some of these Vietnamese favourites too!

Shaking Beef
Vietnamese Rotisserie Chicken
Vietnamese Tofu with Pork Stuffing
Beef Congee
Vietnamese Grilled Scallops
Bo Kho – Spicy beef soup
Vietnamese Chicken Wings
Bun Cha – Grilled Pork Patties in Sauce
Chicken Pho
Beef Pho
Duck Pho
Pork on Lemongrass Skewers
Ban Xeo – Crispy Vietnamese Pancakes

Yield: 4

Cha Ca

cha ca


  • 700g (1 ½ lbs) tilapia or lemon sole , cut into 5cm (2 inch) chunks
  • 4 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil (approx.)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 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
  • 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


  1. Place 200g of vermicelli rice noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Hot water from a kettle is fine.
  2. Allow to soak for about 10 minutes or until cooked through to your liking. Drain and keep warm.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.
  6. 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.
  7. Turn over each pieces and continue frying until almost cooked through and a light golden brown all over.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 400Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 2542mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 3gSugar: 18gProtein: 12g

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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.

Mate Mate UK

Tuesday 28th of June 2022

Love the recipe and going to make it on my next guest's arrival.

Caroline Toombs

Monday 4th of July 2022

Thanks for letting me know, hope you enjoyed it. Dan

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