Most street food options in Hanoi offer only one dish, and because the cook spends all his or her time preparing only this one dish, it is pretty much invariably great. Restaurants are where you go for a more varied menu. An exception to this though is Cha Ca Thanh Long, a popular family restaurant specializing in one of my new favorite fish dishes- cha ca.

Not only does the dish meld some terrific flavors like turmeric, ginger, fennel and green onions, the preparation is an exciting interactive process. A gas camp stove gets set on the table plus a deep saucepan and the ingredients- marinated fish, fresh dill and loads of green onion. A waiter heats oil in the pan, adds the fish and cooks it for a while before lowering the flame and adding handfuls of greens.

He scoops some of this into your bowl, which already contains some vermicelli noodles, and adds some roasted peanuts and raw green onions. You flavor the dish a little more yourself with some spice infused fish sauce and dig in.

It’s a fantastic meal and one I knew I’d have to try at home. Making cha ca was much easier than I expected and for a first attempt I think it turned out really well.


So here’s what you need to collect:

– 500g de-boned fish fillet, cut into bite-sized pieces

– 250g vermicelli noodles

– 1 cup roughly chopped dill

– 1 cup roughly chopped green onions (plus a little more for serving

– 4 tablespoon roasted peanuts

– 2 tablespoon fish sauce

– 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

– 2 teaspoons powdered garlic

– 2 teaspoons minced garlic

– 1/2 teaspoon pepper

– 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

And here is what you do:

For the marinade- mix 1 tablespoon of the oil, the fish sauce, turmeric, garlic, pepper and ginger in a bowl and mix well. Cover the fish in the marinade and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Cook your vermicelli noodles, divide it between bowls and set aside.

Heat the rest of the oil in a wok or deep saucepan until very hot and add the fish. Fry for a coupe of minutes until cooked and lower the heat, add the dill and greens and stir through. Remove from the heat, top the noodles and serve with side dishes of peanuts and some fresh green onions.


For additional flavoring, mix together a little fish sauce (you can add some water if the strong is too much), vinegar, sugar, chili and garlic to serve on the side and add to the dish. I can unfortunately not give any accurate ingredients or explanations for this, I was not paying attention when I made it, just taste testing.

It may sound like a bit of a mission, but the dish was actually extremely easy to make and it’s something I am most certainly going to try again very soon.