Pan Fried Snapper with Turmeric & Dill

Pan Fried Snapper with Turmeric & Dill (Cha Ca) is one of Hanoi’s most loved dishes, in fact there is a whole street with it’s name and where you can also find loads of restaurants – of course serving this dish. There is a restaurant called Cha Ca La Vong which has been serving this dish for four generations.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes + 1hr marinating time

Serves: 4-6 to share


500g snapper fillets – boneless, diced
4 spring onions
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp turmeric, ground
1 tsp red curry powder
1 cup plain yoghurt
4 tbsp fish sauce
½ tsp shrimp paste
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
4 tbsp vegetable oil
½ bunch dill
1 lemon
100g mung beans
100g vermicelli noodles, cooked
4 tbsp roasted peanuts, chopped
250ml Nuoc mam cham dipping sauce


Pop the fish in a bowl.

Take the spring onion, chop off the hairy root and any wiry leaves. Chop off the whites, reserving the green stems and place in a mortar add the garlic and pound to a paste with a pestle (or use a small blender).

Add the spring onion paste to the fish along with the turmeric, curry powder, yoghurt, fish sauce, shrimp paste, sugar and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Chop a third of the dill and add to the fish, using fairy fingers, mix together gently.

Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Finely shred the green spring onion stems, chop the dill and set aside.

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, add the remaining oil and fry the fish on one side for a minute or 2 (careful not to crowd the pan – you will have to do it in batches).

Gently flip them over then cook for a further 2 minutes. Squeeze the lemon into the pan and cook for a further minute or until the fish is cooked.

In a mixing bowl, toss together the mung beans, remaining spring onion and dill, with the cooked noodles. Spread out on a serving platter and top with the fish.

Serve with the chopped nuts and drizzle over the nuoc mam cham.