Monday, January 28, 2008

Cha Ca - Fish with dill, turmeric and white noodles

Adapted from Secrets of the Red Lantern by Pauline Nguyen

I have wanted to eat this again ever since we visited Hanoi last year. There you cook it at your table with a rustic charcoal burner, but luckily you can achieve a similar effect in a frypan. We cooked this for 10 people recently - it’s one of those things that is quite easy to do for many.

This recipe is enough for 6 people.

1kg fish fillets (we used Paa nyin which is farmed river fish, I think any reasonably mild white fleshed fish would do)
8 spring onions
4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp tumeric powder
2 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp plain yoghurt
125ml fish sauce
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp veggie oil
1 bunch dill
125g white rice noodles –preferably fresh, or dried and cooked according to directions (we used thin round fresh ones, called Khao pun noodles if you are cooking in Laos – about 2mm diameter – which were really sticky. They came in clumps so we cut them up with scissors to make more manageable)
250ml fish stock (see recipe below if you want to make your own)
1 lime or lemon
300g bean sprouts

Cut the fish into bite sized pieces and put in a bowl. Put the white parts of the spring onions (keep the stalks for later) and garlic in mortar and pestle and pound to make a paste. Add paste to fish bowl along with turmeric, curry powder, yoghurt, fish sauce, sugar, 2 tbsp of oil and a third of the dill, roughly chopped. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hr.

Slice spring onion stalks. Reserve a small handful of them and also some dill for later. Mix bean sprouts, noodles, sliced spring onions and remaining dill. Place in individual bowls.

Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil in frypan and fry fish (do not add excess marinade or it will be too salty) on one side for 30 sec. Turn over and add fish stock and reserved handful of spring onion and dill and simmer for 3-5 min until cooked. Remove. Spoon evenly into bowls on top of the noodles and add remaining sauce. Serve with lime or lemon wedges. Yum!
Fish stock

2kg fish bones (get your fish freshly filleted and you should have these)
1 large leek or 1 onion
4 cm piece of ginger
4 garlic cloves
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 bunch coriander, stems and roots only

Put bones in large saucepan with 4L of water and bring to boil. Skim off any scum and then add remaining ingredients. Return to boil, reduce heat and then simmer for 30min. Strain through sieve and allow to cool.


Alex P said...

Looks awesome - What sort of curry powder? They have all sorts of super hot stuff here - not sure that would work.

Us said...

I really wish they made such yummy dilly fish get loads of fish with dill but it is stodgy S*&t. I might just give it a go, but the fresh noodles are not available.sniff
love S***