Cha Ca Thang Long (Vietnamese Turmeric Fish with Dill)

After watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations for Vietnam, J and I have sought out Vietnamese dishes to prepare. And as we’ve mentioned before, we are always looking for more  ways to eat fish . J found this recipe from the Ravenous Couple and it didn’t disappoint. Easy to prepare, delicious and fragrant, we’ve added this to our dinner rotation.

Vietnamese Turmeric Fish with Dill.
Vietnamese Turmeric Fish with Dill.

1 lb of white fish fillets (We used tilapia fillets)

Fish Marinade
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (this gives the fish the beautiful yellow color)
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder (The original recipe calls for galangal powder, but we’ve had a hard time finding it around us)
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon of fish sauce

1 large red onion, sliced (we only had a white onion on hand)
1 cup of green onion cut lengthwise into 1.5 inch segments
1 bunch of fresh dill coarsely chopped (thick stems removed)
1/4 cup of dry roasted peanuts, coarsely crushed (we didn’t use this because we didn’t have any)
12 oz. bag of vermicelli noodles (boiled and drained, we used white rice because we didn’t have vermicelli on hand)
Fresh mint

If you’re ever interested in making your own fish sauce, the original recipe has instructions on how to do that. We opted not to for time purposes, as we made this on a weeknight.

Combine olive oil, turmeric, galangal, garlic, shallots, salt, sugar, and fish sauce in large bowl and mix well. Cut the fish into smaller fillets and gently mix, and allow to marinade in the fridge for at least an hour.

You’ll need two skillets for this, one large and one medium. In the large skillet, saute the red and green onions with a bit of oil under medium low heat. At the same time have the medium non-stick skillet heating on medium high.

While the onions are cooking, cook the fish fillets about 3 minutes on each side until you get a nice golden opaque color and a light brown crust. A minute or so before the fish is done, turn the large skillet with the onions to high and place the cooked fillets on top of the sauteed onions and scallions. Remove from heat and generously top with fresh dill and roasted peanuts (if desired). Serve immediately over vermicelli noodles, fresh lettuce and herbs.

My Opinion:
The dill, fish sauce and mint make te flavors really pop. If you’re skeptical like we initially were, try just a little of each on one bite. I promise, you won’t regret it. The only change we’ve made is to use a bit of a firmer fish. Tilapia was just what we had on hand the first time and worked fine, but cod, halibut, or the recommended catfish would be easier to sear. You won’t feel bogged down by this dish. It’s light and filling. We served it with rice, but that was almost unnecessary, the onions were enough.


Spicy Grilled Tuna

This dish is easy and fast. Great for that late summer weeknight dinner.

Tuna Steaks
sesame oil
soy sauce
garlic powder or smashed and chopped fine
ginger powder or smashed and chopped fine (or you can skip everything from the sesame oil through the garlic powder and just use gyoza sauce, that’s what we do)
sriracha sauce

Mix together marinade ingredients. In a separate tupperware, add tuna steaks and pour marinade over steaks. Seal with tupperware lid and GENTLY shake to coat. Marinate for at least a half hour up to one day in the refrigerator. Be sure to save the marinade to use while grilling. Get grill going (we’ve used both a charcoal grill and the George Foreman). Add tuna steaks. Cook until light pink halfway up the steak, about three to four minutes depending on the size of the tuna steak, then flip. (Ignore this step if using a George Foreman). Pour the remaining marinade over the tuna on the grill. Cook another three to four minutes.

My Opinion:
If you want this to be spicier, add more sriracha sauce to the marinade. The marinade is poured over the tuna steaks after the flip to keep them from drying out. The George Foreman cooks the tuna more throughly, but since I like mine a little more rare on the inside, I prefer the grill. Serve with a salad, rice or couscous. Easy and quick!

Homemade Sushi

I crave this dish at least weekly.

Rice Ingredients:
sushi rice
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar (or to taste)
2 Tbsps sugar (or to taste)

Spicy Tuna Ingredients:
sashimi grade tuna
sesame oil
soy sauce
garlic powder or smashed and chopped fine
ginger powder or smashed and chopped fine (or you can skip everything from the sesame oil through the garlic powder and just use gyoza sauce, that’s what we do)
sriracha sauce
These are all to taste.

Additional Ingredients:

Rice Directions:
Cook rice according to package directions. Most stores now carry sushi rice in the rice section. We’ve actually never had trouble finding it, but if you do have trouble just look for a short grained white rice. As soon as all the water has absorbed, put the rice in a glass or plastic bowl (no metal! It will give a reaction and the rice will taste funny!). While the rice is still hot, stir in the rice vinegar and the sugar. Mix well. refrigerate until cooled through but not cold. In our refrigerator, that’s about 20 minutes.

Spicy Tuna Directions:
Cut the tuna into squares small enough to fit in your food . Add sriracha sauce (remember the more you add the spicier it will be), gyoza sauce and tuna into your food processor. (I do not recommend a blender for this!) Blend until you get the consistency you want. I like ours to be a little chunky.

This next part is where you get to decide what and how you want to roll this. There are tons of great resources by just Googling “how to make sushi” that will give you instructions.

We obviously like our rolls a little bigger than traditionally served with a good deal of rice. The basics are: put the nori rough side up on either a bamboo mat or on a few pieces of folded tin foil, spread the rice on the nori, add the tuna mixtures and roll. Don’t be sad if it falls apart, it still tastes good!

My Opinion:
Obviously, I forgot to take pictures until we’d eaten a few off the plate. This recipe makes about three full sheets of tuna and rice filled nori for us. More than enough for dinner for the two of us. What I like best about making sushi this way is that I control the spice level (we like it spicier than most restaurants make it) and can add whatever I want to it. Mostly meaning, no mayonnaise (yuck!). If we have left over smoked salmon, that goes in. If we have left over cucumbers, that goes in too. Even with the cooling time, this dish doesn’t take all that long to make. Yum!