Fish with turmeric and dill or chả cá thì là is a famous Vietnamese dish made popular in the northern region of Vietnam. This dish typically has a hardy white fish marinated in turmeric and other seasonings and then pan fried with a lot of dill. My mom and I came up with a version that you can make at home. It has a few exotic ingredients that are generally available at an Asian grocer. This dish is fragrant and is served on a bed of vermicelli rice noodles and top with dill, peanuts and a dab of the aromatic sauce.
We published a taco version last month based on this recipe so some of the steps will be the same. The key difference is that this recipe uses shrimp paste or rouc, a pungent shrimp seasoning. In our taco recipe, we substituted the shrimp paste with fish sauce and created a different sauce to pour over the fish at the end. If you do not like the shrimp paste, use the recipe for the marinade and sauce from our taco dish.
Difficulty: Medium / Servings: 4 / Time: 30 minutes of cooking and preparation ; 1 hour for the marinade
2 pounds of firm white fish filet such as catfish or tilapia
1 bunch of vermicelli rice noodles
2 large bunch of dill
3 stalks of spring onion
1 tablespoon of lemongrass
2 tablespoons of minced garlic
½ of a diced yellow or red onion
1 tablespoon of potato starch
2 tablespoons of Galangal powder (you can use fresh galangal if you can find it)
Shrimp sauce or rouc
White cooking wine
½ teaspoon of turmeric
Fresh ginger- enough to get ½ tablespoon of juice
Ground black pepper
Roasted peanuts for topping
Rinse the fish filet with half cup of wine and 1 teaspoon of salt to remove any fishy smell. Rinse again with water to remove any remaining white wine and salt.
Slice the fish into 2 inche pieces.
Marinate the fish with the following:
2 tablespoons of Galangal powder, 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon of shrimp sauce, ¼ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of sugar, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon of potato starch, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of lemongrass, 1 tablespoon of diced onion, ½ tablespoon of ginger juice (ground the ginger and squeeze out the juice). Dice a handful of dill and add 1 tablespoon of dill the fish and let the fish marinate for 1 hour.
While the fish marinates, boil water and cook the rice vermicelli noodles according to directions.
Prepare the toppings by cutting the dill into 2-3 inch segments and set aside.
Cut the 3 stalks of spring onion into 3 inch segments. Cut each segment lengthwise into quarters.
Heat a pan on high and coat the surface with oil. Brown 1 tablespoon of diced onion and add the spring onions to fry once the diced yellow onion becomes translucent. Fry the spring onions until they soften, but are not completely wilted.
Add the dill and toss so that the heat can wilt the dill.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and mix. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Wipe the pan with a paper towel and heat the pan with enough oil to pan fry the fish. Once the pan is heated, add ½ tablespoon of minced garlic and 1 tablespoon of diced onion. Pan fry the fish until it is cooked. This should take approximately a few minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and place on a plate with a paper towel to strain any excess oil.
Make the sauce by mixing following ingredients: 1 tablespoon of shrimp sauce, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon of browned minced garlic (brown the garlic first with a light coating of oil), 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
The fish is served on a bed of noodles, topped with dill and spring onions mix, peanuts, a little of the sauce and a squeeze of lime for freshness.
We also created a version of this recipe for Fish Taco.