Hanoi grilled fish with ancient flavors


Hanoi’s food is praised by CNN as one of the most delicious Vietnamese dishes in the world and was included in the book “1,000 Places to Know Before You Die”.


( 8 )

  • 1 kg fish fillet
  • 1 galangal root
  • 1 fresh turmeric root
  • Spices: Delicious fish sauce, shrimp paste, MSG, pepper, Ca cuong essential oil
  • Vegetables served with: Dill, spring onion, Lang basil, coriander
  • Other: Roasted peanuts, fried onions, lemon, chili, onion (optional)
  • Pork fat or chicken fat
  • Vermicelli served with noodles


1. Preliminary processing

  • Hanoi grilled fish using fresh lentil fish is the best because it has few bones, the meat is sweet and fragrant, a little greasy but not greasy or fishy. Clean the fish, debone it and slice it slightly tilted into a matchbox shape. Clean the fish intestines and cut them into bite-sized pieces. 
  • The spices that make up the characteristics of Hanoi fish cakes include finely filtered batches, selected galangal (not too young or too old), pounded and squeezed to get the juice. Crush fresh turmeric, add a little lemon juice or batches to keep the color fresh (because crushed turmeric often changes color darkly). Carefully filter the shrimp paste. Especially to prevent the fish cake from drying out, add a little warm pork fat when marinating.
  • The accompanying vegetables that enhance the flavor of the fish cake are dill, spring onions and Lang basil. Wash and cut herbs. Cut the ends of the spring onions into small pieces and soak them in a bowl of ice water until crispy, adding a little vinegar to reduce the pungency. 
  • Noodles to eat soft white fish cakes, used to be wrapped in small pieces. Now, for convenience, use small, tangled vermicelli noodles. 

2. Marinate

  • Put the fish in a bowl/bowl and add turmeric juice to coat the bright yellow surface evenly and at the same time remove the fishy smell. Next add galangal juice, 3 – 4 tablespoons of warm lard, 3 tablespoons of finely filtered rice, 3 tablespoons of delicious fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of shrimp paste, 1 teaspoon of MSG, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix well and marinate for at least 2 hours to absorb flavors. If you have time, wrap it in plastic wrap and leave it in the refrigerator to marinate overnight to make it more flavorful. 

3. Processing

  • The best grilled fish is through ”two fires”. The first fire is to grill on charcoal so that the firelight covers it until golden brown, each piece is firm and not broken. Once the fish is grilled, let it cool. When eating, put it in a hot pan (fire 2) with lard, onions, dill and Lang basil. If you don’t have charcoal, grill in an oil-free fryer or oven. 
  • Choose roasted peanuts with red chrysanthemum shells, roast evenly until golden and crispy, then they will be fragrant and nutty. After roasting peanuts, rub and remove the shell and set aside. 
  • How to make shrimp paste: Put in a bowl 3 tablespoons of shrimp paste, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of white wine. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon and whip it up. White wine helps deodorize, lemon and sugar help balance and soften the salty taste of shrimp paste. Finally, add a drop or two of Ca Cuong essential oil to create a unique, attractive aroma. Currently, Ca Cuong essential oil is expensive and rare, so most restaurants do not have this ancient flavor. Some people also said that, to be more sophisticated, the La Vong fish cake restaurant of the Doan family in the past replaced lemon with special vinegar made from yellow flower sticky rice that was brewed to the right degree, creating a very unique flavor. 
  • Present and enjoy: When eating, spread a layer of dill and green onions on a cast iron pan (to keep warm for a long time), and arrange grilled fish cakes until golden. Pour in chicken fat or pork fat, heat and stir-fry until the fish cakes are hot. The sound of hot fat makes the onions and dill smell fragrant, blending with the fish cakes, pushing the taste buds. This dish is dipped in shrimp paste, served with vermicelli, Lang basil, roasted peanuts, and grilled rice paper to create an unforgettable impression. 

3. Finished product requirements

  • Each piece of fish cake is golden yellow, soft and sweet inside, rich in flavor. In particular, the shrimp paste is mixed with just the right taste, the vegetables and side dishes enhance the special flavor that is not easily found anywhere else.


  • Cha ca La Vong, Hanoi was born in 1871, created by the Doan family. Under skillful hands and sophistication, fish cakes gradually become the quintessence of Hanoi cuisine.
  • The most delicious grilled fish is to choose fresh lentil fish. If there is no lentil fish in a foreign country, you can use other types of catfish or fish, but the taste will be somewhat reduced.
  • Many careful people believe that onions take away the taste of fish cakes, but in “Delicious pieces of Hanoi”, writer Vu Bang mentioned a little: “A piece of vermicelli, a piece of rice paper, then onions, green onions.” , herbs, coriander, roasted peanuts, accompanied by a piece or two of fish patties drenched in lemon and chili shrimp paste… so fatty, so nutritious, so rich and so delicious”. 
  • Spices for marinating fish patties outside the batch, carefully filtered shrimp paste with galangal, turmeric, and warm lard are indispensable to help keep the patties from drying out and increase the fatty taste.
  • Good fish cakes need to be flavored through “two fires” (fire 1 is to grill until golden brown and firm the meat), fire 2 is to serve the fish cakes hot in the pan, sprinkle with pork fat or, better yet, chicken fat, add onions. flowers and dill add fragrance.
  • To make shrimp paste and fish paste, if you work hard to find Ca Cuong essential oil, add 1-2 drops and it will give off an unforgettable, attractive smell, true to the old taste.
  • For properly roasted peanuts, choose red-shelled chrysanthemum peanuts. When roasted until golden brown, they are very fragrant and nutty.

Photo,Video: Internet