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Turmeric fish (Cha ca La Vong): A signature dish of Hanoi cuisine

28/01/2024 9.615

Cha ca La Vong, or fried fish with turmeric and dill, is a famous dish of Hanoi. This article will give you an insight into its ingredients, the process of making Hanoi turmeric fish with dill as well as how and where to enjoy it.

Turmeric fish

Cha ca La Vong Hanoi, or turmeric fish, is a Hanoi specialty that satisfies every visitor going on a Vietnam travel journey. It dates from the 19th century and is believed to have been invented by the Doan family. This iconic dish is often listed as one of the foods you must try at least once in your life.

1. What is turmeric fish Vietnamese?

Turmeric fish is also known as cha ca La Vong, cha ca Ha Noi, cha ca Thang Long, or just cha ca. However, it is different from Vietnamese fish cake, which is also called cha ca. 

This dish features fried fish that has been marinated with turmeric, garnished with sautéed scallions and dill, and served with vermicelli (rice noodles), chopped peanuts, as well as a dipping sauce. A complete dish of cha ca looks stunning with beautiful golden fish and green herbs. It has a perfect combination of sweet, savory, and sour tastes. Hanoi turmeric fish with dill is a top Vietnamese food that will surely satisfy your taste buds.

The main ingredients for golden turmeric fish include:

  • Hemibagrus fish
  • Turmeric powder
  • Scallions (green onions/spring onions), dill, shallots, garlic, galangal (similar to ginger root)
  • Fermented rice
  • Shrimp paste
  • Spices like fish sauce, salt, sugar, lime juice, etc.

To make Vietnamese turmeric fish with dill, you should use hemibagrus filets since the meat of this fish has the right amount of tenderness.

The overall process of making Vietnam’s golden turmeric fish includes two stages:

Stage 1: Prepping the ingredients

  • Use a clean paper towel to absorb excess water from the filets, then cut the fish into bite-sized rectangular pieces.
  • To make the marinade, you need a mixture of these ingredients: turmeric powder, finely grated galangal, finely crushed garlic, Vietnamese fermented rice, shrimp paste, oil, and tsp ground pepper. Stir the mixture well. If you prefer a milder taste, choose fish sauce instead of shrimp paste.
  • Pour the marinade into the bowl of fish pieces and leave them for at least one hour. It is recommended that you marinate the fish overnight so that the fish will thoroughly absorb the marinade.
  • Make the dipping sauce which comprises warm water, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, ground garlic, and sliced chili. Stir the mixture well.
  • Prepare other ingredients like vermicelli and raw vegetables.
Turmeric fish

Stage 2: Pan-frying the fish

Traditionally, the fish is grilled over hot coals beforehand for a smoky flavor. The slightly cooked fish is then placed on a cast-iron pan, along with dill and scallions, to be stir-fried in boiling oil until the texture of the fish turns crispy. Hot oil makes the fish sizzle in the pan and deepen its flavors. 

Turmeric fish

2. How to eat Hanoi's turmeric fish?

You can serve turmeric fish with vermicelli and dipping sauce. Loads of fresh dill and other Vietnamese vegetables are also used with turmeric fish. Fried fish and dill are placed on a bed of vermicelli and then topped with spring onions and crunchy peanuts. Enjoy this combination with dipping sauce and some more fresh herbs. 

In a traditional cha ca restaurant, a hot pan of marinated fish will arrive on the table alongside baskets of vermicelli, fresh herbs, chopped peanuts, chili, and shrimp paste. As the fish and herbs are fried in front of diners, the fish filets turn golden while the aroma of the dill wafts through the air. You can then enjoy the whole dish right away after the fried fish are taken from the boiling oil.

Turmeric fish

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3. The 5 suggested places to enjoy Hanoi's turmeric fish with dill

If you visit Hanoi, there is no doubt that turmeric fish is a must-try specialty. There are several restaurants specializing in this dish:

3.1. Cha Ca Ha Thanh

  • Address: No. 32, Nguyen Van Huyen Street, Cau Giay District, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Price range: 65,000 VND - 435,000 VND

Cha Ca Ha Thanh features many dishes made from hemibagrus, like turmeric fish, grilled fish, fish soup, fish soup, etc., which will certainly satisfy every demanding diner.

3.2. Cha Ca Vong Ngu

  • Address: No. 29, Nguyen Chi Thanh Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 9:30 am - 10:00 pm
  • Price range: 50,000 VND - 499,000 VND

Cha Ca Vong Ngu is famous for its flavorful turmeric fried fish. The restaurant has a cozy space which is particularly suitable for couples or groups of diners. 

Turmeric fish

3.3. Cha Ca Lao Ngu

  • Address: No. 171, Thai Ha Street, Dong Da District, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 10:30 am – 2:00 pm and 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
  • Price range: 50,000 VND - 150,000 VND

Customers often come to Cha Ca Lao Ngu to enjoy not only superb food but also a cozy and relaxing space with decorative pictures hanging on the wall of an old Hanoi.

3.4. Cha Ca Duong Thanh

  • Address: No. 19 - 21 - 31, Duong Thanh Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 10:30 am - 9:00 pm
  • Price range: 18,000 VND - 300,000 VND

Located on a small street near the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, this restaurant is a top choice of many gourmets. It brings diners tasty traditional turmeric fish which will leave a lasting impression.

Turmeric fish

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3.5. Cha Ca 18 Lo Su

  • Address: 1st floor, Hanoi E Central Hotel, No. 18, Lo Su Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Price range: 150,000 VND - 250,000 VND

Located on the premises of Hanoi E Central hotel, this restaurant has a very nice space. You can easily get here as it stands right near the center of Hanoi Old Quarter.

In addition to exploring the cuisine, you should complete your Hanoi travel itinerary by visiting famous attractions, such as Hanoi Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake, Presidential Palace, St. Joseph’s Cathedral, One Pillar Pagoda, and especially VinKE & Vinpearl Aquarium. Situated within Vincom Mega Mall Times City, the Aquarium offers you a chance to contemplate mysterious marine life, while VinKE helps children experience their dream careers through many job simulation games.

Turmeric fishTurmeric fish

>>> Book tickets to VinKE & Vinpearl Aquarium to have lots of fun with your family!

Enjoying cha ca La Vong will be a unique experience. All the ingredients have different flavors, yet they come together harmoniously. You will even have a chance to perform tabletop cooking by yourself. If you have a chance to visit the S-shaped country, don't forget to try the delicious turmeric fish, a must-try for all Vietnamese cuisine enthusiasts. 

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