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.

Lamb Kofta and Harissa Yogurt Sauce

There’s a Lebanese restaurant in Cleveland, Taza, that J and I LOVE. We eat there nearly every time we’re in town. Until now, the recipe for their delicious lamb kofta has eluded us. This weekend when everyone else was grilling hamburgers and hot dogs, J finally managed to perfect this recipe with the help of Arabic Food Recipes kitchen.

Kofta Ingredients (plus our modifications):
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro (fresh makes a HUGE difference!)
2 tablespoons grated fresh onion (we used white and about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons 2% Greek-style plain yogurt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric (we used slightly more)
2 teaspoons minced garlic (we used slightly more)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound lean ground lamb
Cooking spray

Kofta Directions:
Combine cilantro and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. We used a spatula to combine it all. Shape into 12 oblong patties around pre-soaked bamboo skewers. Don’t try to make them too big, the weight will cause them to fall off the skewer. Spray a grill tray with cooking spray and set the skewers on the grill tray. Grill for about 10 minutes per side (you’ll know it’s time to turn when the edges are a bit crisp). Tip to flip: don’t lift the kofta, roll it over using tongs or two forks.

Harissa Yogurt Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 cup 2% Greek-style plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped bottled roasted red bell pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (we’ll use more next time)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Harissa Yogurt Sauce Directions:
Combine the ingredients in a small bowl. Let sit for about half an hour in the refrigerator. Mix again. Serve sauce with kofta.

My opinion:
I couldn’t stop eating this dish. When it was gone, I wanted more. The only change I’d make in the future is to add more spice to the Harissa Yogurt sauce. I can’t wait until we make this again.