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Vietnamese Turmeric Fish with Wilted Herbs and Peanuts
This dish draws inspiration from a Hanoi restaurant, Cha Ca La Vong, renowned for its fish—the only item on the menu— seasoned with turmeric and dill. For our version, cornstarch and ground turmeric form a delicate crust on tilapia fillets that are quickly sautéed. Other firm white fish, such as snapper or cod, would work well here, but you'll need to increase the cooking time for fillets thicker than ½ inch. Generous fresh herbs—we use scallions, dill and cilantro, but mint is great, too—along with a sauce of lime juice and fish sauce brighten the dish. To add spice, stir red pepper flakes into the sauce or offer Sriracha at the table. Serve with thin rice noodles.
tablespoons white sugar
cup lime juice
01In a small bowl, stir together ⅓ cup water, sugar, lime juice and fish sauce until the sugar dissolves. Set aside. Season fish with salt and pepper. In a gallon zip-close bag, mix together the cornstarch, turmeric, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add the fish, seal the bag and shake to coat. Transfer to a plate, shaking off any excess coating.
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This is delicious with rice noodles! I made it with a 50/50 mix of mint and dill instead of all dill, and it turned out great. It also held up well as leftovers the next day. Note that the turmeric-tinted oil splatter from the frying can be a bit messy/staining, so I recommend using a splatter screen.
I’ve made this dish a few times, exactly as stated - with rice noodles. It is a very good dish. Says 4 servings, and with 16 oz of rice noodles, it’s absolutely a hearty 4-person recipe. I’ve also halved it (although about the same full amount of herb mixture) and it was perfect. Highly recommended.
I love this dish! It works equally well with firm tofu if you are interested in a less-meaty option.