06 February 2015

{Bookshelf} Snapper Pan Fried with Turmeric & Dill from Luke Nguyen’s The Food of Vietnam

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
250ml (1 cup) nuoc nam sauce


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.

This one checks all the boxes.  Bright, fresh, aromatic, crunchy, nutty, spicy.

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