This is not actually on my bookshelf it’s on lone from Mr B, was actually last year’s birthday present for him. We’ve cooked quite a bit from here as love Vietnamese flavours; a favourite the seared scallops with tamari. lemongrass & chilli. Fragrant, sweet, sour, hot. The dipping sauce is divine & would be delicious on a myriad of dishes. Simple too, just mix together tamari soy, lemon juice, chilli oil, garlic, sugar & kaffir lime. It just packs such a flavourful punch.
Vietnamese is perfect for the tropical Summer we’ve been having being so bright & fresh & light & this snapper with turmeric & dill & a fresh crunchy salad caught my eye. It is called “Cha Ca” & is a favourite dish in Hanoi; there is even a street named after it. And if you’re lucky enough to get to Hanoi Luke recommends Cha Ca La Vong for the best cha ca.
Spring onion & garlic is mashed to a paste & mixed with turmeric, curry powder, yoghurt, fish sauce, shrimp paste, sugar & oil to marinade bite sized pieces of snapper along with a little dill. It’s then quickly fried & served on top of a crunchy salad of bean sprouts, spring onion, dill & noodles & scattered with crushed roasted peanuts & even better it is drizzled with nuoc nam.
Nuoc nam is a favourite dipping tipple & there is usually a jar in the fridge. Great for fish or chicken to spice up your supper. For quick & easy there’s Nadia Lim’s version that can be whipped up in a moment. For Luke’s* more authentic version he heats fish, sauce, vinegar & sugar to just before boiling point & then cools & adds garlic, chilli & lime juice just before serving.
*3 tbsp fish sauce, 3 tbsp white wine vinegar, 2 tbsp sugar, 2 garlic cloves finely chopped, 1 red chilli finely chopped, 2 tbsp lime juice.
Snapper Pan Fried with Turmeric & Dill from Luke Nguyen’s The Food of Vietnam
Serves 4-6 as part of shared meal
500g (1lb) boneless snapper fillets
4 spring onions
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp red curry powder
250g (9oz) plain yoghurt
4 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp shrimp sauce
1.5 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 bunch dill
1 lemon, halved
100g (3.5oz) bean sprouts
100g (3.5oz) rice vermicelli noodles, cooked according to packet instructions
4 tbsp crushed roasted peanuts
Cut the snapper in to bite sized pieces, place in a bowl & set aside. Cut off the roots of the spring onion & chop the whites & reserve the green stems. Place the whites in a pestle & mortar with the garlic & pound it to a paste.
Add the spring onion paste to the fish & add the turmeric, curry powder, yoghurt, fish sauce, shrimp paste, sugar & 2 tablespoons of the oil. Roughly chop one third of the dill & add it to the fish & gently mix it together. Cover & place in the fridge to marinate for an hour.
Finely shred the spring onion greens & chop the rest of the dill & set aside.
Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat & add the rest of the oil. Fry the snapper, one minute on the first side & two minutes on the second side. Squeeze in the lemon juice & cook for one more minute or until the fish cooked through.
Toss together the bean sprouts with the shredded spring onions, dill & noodles. Place the salad on a platter, top with the snapper, scatter over the peanuts & drizzle with the nuoc nam& serve. If like me you love the nuoc nam sauce serve a little bowl on the side for more dipping.