Cha Ca Thang Long Recipe Vietnamese Grilled Fish Turmeric

No dill? Not a problem. Cha Ca Thang Long Recipe Vietnamese Grilled Fish Tumeric is usually served  with dill. However, vegetables are hard to keep fresh on hand, so sometimes I have to substitute. Instead of dill I loaded this yummy dish with lots of cilantro, red onions, and romaine lettuce. After all, the main ingredient is the grilled turmeric fish, right?  It is for me, and as long as I get the fish, I am happy with the herbs substitution. But, if you can get dill, it is the absolute awesomeness dish you will ever tasted. Look below for the entire dill / cilantro substitute recipe.

Cha Ca Thang Long Recipe

Cha Ca Thang Long Recipe

Cha Ca Thang Long Recipe

Cha Ca Thang Long Recipe

Cha Ca Thang Long Recipe Vietnamese Grilled Fish Turmeric
About 4 Servings
•1 lb of white fish fillets

Fish Marinade
What types of fish to use?  Cha Ca Thanh Long is flexible, traditionally catfish is used, but you can use any white fleshy fish, for examples: cod, basa, swai, halibut or rockfish. Your fish should be fillet fish with no bones. These next extra steps will ensure the fish come out perfect, but if you are in a hurry, you can skip the next three steps. The fourth step is a must since you have to cut the fish fillets into chunks.  

Prepping the Fish: 
1) Clean the fish fillets in cool water with a pinch of baking soda. It's ok if you let the fish fillets soak in the baking soda water for about 15 minutes. 
2) After 15 minutes, rinse the fish fillets with cool water- not warm, not cold, not hot. 
3) Use Paper towels to dry the fish fillets. 
4) Cut the fish fillets into one-inch pieces, you can also cut diagonal so that the pieces are a bit longer, it will be easy to wrap with rice paper and herbs. What I normally do is slice the fish fillet into half vertically, then I cut the pieces one-inch widths and depending on how thick the area is, as I get to the flatter areas of the fish, like the tail, I widen my cuts up to one and a half inch plus. 

Now that you have your fish chunks, use the following seasonings for one pound of fish. 

• 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder 
• 1/4 teaspoon galangal powder (if not available at your Asian market, substitute ginger powder)
• 1 teaspoon of minced garlic - fresh
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon sugar
• 1 tbs of olive oil
• 2 teaspoons of rice flour
• 1 teaspoon of shrimp paste

For two lbs of fish use the following measurements:
2 teaspoons of minced ginger / galanga
2 teaspoons of garlic
2 teaspoons of rice flour
4 teaspoons of shrimp paste
4 teaspoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of sugar

Marinating Tips: 

Option 1. Combine the fish fillet cuts with all the dry ingredients first, then the garlic, then the shrimp paste, and lastly the olive oil. 
Option 2. You can also combine the seasonings first to make it easier: turmeric powder, galangal powder, salt, sugar, rice flour and mix well with the fish fillet cuts, then add the fresh minced garlic, shrimp paste, and olive oil. 

Whichever option you use to marinate the fish, make sure the ingredients are well mixed and that the fish fillet cuts are covered. Marinate the fish for 2 hours or overnight. After marinating, take the chunks of fish out and place on a baking pan lined with aluminum foil, and bake for 5- 7 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove the fish fillet cuts and set aside until you are ready to put into a pan to fry. 

• 1 large yellow onion, sliced thin strips
• 1 cup of green onion cut about 1.5 inch segments
• 1 bunch of fresh dill coarsely chopped (thick stems removed) (substitute here with a bunch of cilantro, or basil)
 • 1/4 cup of dry roasted peanuts, coarsely crushed
• Pickled Carrots and Daikon, sliced
• 12 oz. bag of vermicelli noodles (boiled and drained)
• Fresh mints (rau thom), perilla (tia to), lettuce, Vietnamese balm (kinh gioi)
 • Black sesame rice cracker (banh da)

Salad for Wrapping
Most people eat the fish wrap in rice paper. Our family likes a reason to wrap anything, and everything. So to eat this dish the way we like, we have to prepare the salad to wrap the fish in.
1) red or green leaf lettuce wash and cut in half to manageable size.
2) perilla mint
3) peppermint
4) cilantro
5) crushed, roasted and lightly salted peanuts

Fermented Anchovy Sauce
• Juice from 3 limes
• 2 tablespoon of sugar
• 2 tablespoons of water
• 1 teaspoon of mam ruoc (fine shrimp paste)
• 1 teaspoon of chopped red chili or chili garlic paste
Traditionally this dish is dressed with a fermented shrimp paste sauce. The sauce is more pungent (strong smell) than fish sauce, but is prepared similar to nuoc mam dipping sauce. First start with the lime, sugar, and water making a bland lime-ade, then slowly add the shrimp paste, mix well and taste and adjust according to taste.

Fish Sauce
Some folks can't handle the shrimp paste because it is so strong. To eat with fish sauce here is my formula:
4 tablespoons of organic fish sauce
2 tablespoons of water
2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
2 teaspoons of sugar
Mix well. Add chili paste to your taste

For salad and herbs: cut or shred the lettuce into long pieces, 2 1/2 inches by 3 inches or vary in this proportions. Cut the cucumbers into three-inch slices, perilla mint, peppermint, assemble into a large dish.

Noodles: Boil the noodles according to directions on the package and rinse well.

Assembly - frying: In a pan, combine the yellow onions, dill and green chopped onions to be used with the baked turmeric fish and a teaspoon of vegetable oil. Layer the fish chunks on top, cook until fish looks grilled. I usually divide the portions and not fry all the fish, onions or dill at once, we fry as we eat since we like the fish to be as warm and fresh as possible.

Ways to eat the turmeric grilled fish: We like to wrap our cha ca so at this point you can either eat the fish in a bowl and add vermicelli noodles, herbs, salad mix, or eat it with the black sesame rice crackers, or you can put the fish on rice paper and add the vermicelli noodles, with salad and herbs and wrap into a spring roll.

Serve warm with shrimp paste dipping sauce (mắm ruốc) or nước mắm on the side.


  1. oh gee, thanks for sharing, this is one of my favorite fish dish in the nearby vietnamese restaurant, i did not know how to make, not I have the recipe from you :)

  2. Absolutely drooling at the moment, and it's only 8:12 AM here in Michigan! Just so delicious looking!

  3. I am not a seafood eater, but my husband is! This looks like the kind of recipe that he would just dig in to! Thanks for sharing :)

  4. I rarely use turmeric but I will give it a try!

    This sounds delicious!

  5. This does look tasty and healthy!


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