Hanoi-Style Fried Fish With Turmeric and Dill (Cha Ca Thang Long)
Author Paul Greenberg says this light, summery meal is perfect for sharing.
Serve the fried fish atop the dilled vermicelli or wrapped in lettuce leaves, along with pickled carrots and a dipping sauce called nuoc cham (find the recipes at washingtonpost.com/recipes).
Make ahead: Once salted, the fish needs to sit for 15 minutes. The marinated fish needs to be refrigerated for 20 minutes.
For the fish
• 1 1/2 pounds firm, skinned white-fleshed fish fillets, such as monkfish, red snapper or striped bass
• 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
• 3 tablespoons fish sauce
• 1 tablespoon peeled, minced fresh ginger root
• 2 scallions, thinly sliced
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
• 1 1/2 cups rice flour
• Peanut oil, for frying
• 3 to 4 ounces dried rice vermicelli noodles
• 1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped
• 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (optional)
• 1/3 cup nuoc cham (see headnote)
• 1 lime, cut into quarters
• Pickled carrots (see headnote)
• 12 large lettuce leaves
• 1 small bunch mint leaves
• 1 small bunch cilantro
• 1/2 cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
For the fish: Cut the fish fillets into 2-inch chunks. Sprinkle the pieces all over with the salt; let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together the fish sauce, ginger, scallions, sugar and pepper in a small bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Rub the mixture over the fish pieces so they are thoroughly coated, then place them on a plate. Sprinkle them with the turmeric, cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with several layers of paper towels, then seat an oven-safe wire rack on top; place on the middle oven rack and preheat to 200 degrees.
Place the rice flour in a shallow bowl. Lightly coat each piece of marinated fish in the flour, shaking off any excess.
Pour enough oil into a wok to create a depth of at least an inch (1 to 2 cups; the oil will be shallower if you use a large skillet instead). Heat over medium-high heat until the oil is almost smoking.
Working in batches as needed (do not overcrowd the pan), add the fish and cook for 4 to 8 minutes (depending on the thickness of the pieces), using tongs to move and turn the fish as needed so that it becomes evenly cooked and golden brown. Use tongs to transfer the cooked fish to the wire rack in the oven.
Boil a kettle of water. Place the vermicelli in a heatproof bowl. Pour the just-boiled water over the noodles; let them sit according to the package directions. Drain, then toss with the chopped dill.
When ready to serve, arrange the dilled vermicelli on a platter along with the pieces of warm fried fish; soy sauce, if using, and/or nuoc cham for dipping; lime wedges; pickled carrots; lettuce; mint; and cilantro. Garnish with the peanuts.
— Adapted from “The Little Saigon Cookbook: Vietnamese Cuisine and Culture in Southern California’s Little Saigon,” by Ann Le (Globe Pequot, 2011).
Korean Spicy Fish Stew (Mae Un Tang)
This is Korean comfort food: a hearty yet delicate fish soup. If you are buying a fish head rather than using one from a whole fish, ask your fishmonger for the “rack” or fish skeleton as well.
Ingredient-wise, the daikon radish, zucchini and chili peppers are a must. But you can add whatever other vegetables you like, including soybean sprouts, pumpkin, mushrooms and watercress, as well as other shellfish, such as oysters and clams.
Make ahead: The soup is best served the same day it’s made.
• 1 large fish head (about 1 1/2 pounds)
• 1 fish rack (optional; see headnote)
• 8 cups water
• 1/2 block (7 ounces) firm tofu
• 8 ounces daikon radish, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces that are 1/8-inch thick
• 1/2 zucchini, halved lengthwise, then cut into 1/4-inch slices
• 1 small red chili pepper, seeded if desired, then cut thinly on the bias
• 1 small green chili pepper, seeded if desired, then cut thinly on the bias
• 1 sweet onion, cut into strips
• 2 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
• 1 tablespoon regular or low-sodium soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean crushed red chili pepper powder)
• 3 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili pepper paste)
• 4 ounces edible chrysanthemum leaves (optional)
• Kosher or sea salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
Rinse the fish head and pat it dry.
Use your fingers and/or a small paring knife to extract any flesh from fish head and the collar. If you are also using a fish rack, you can extract a significant amount of flesh from it by holding one end and strumming your fingers along the bones. Reserve all of the flesh in a bowl.
Place the picked-over fish head and rack in a stockpot, then add the water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook for 10 minutes, turning the head over once during that time. (If you like, you can use a spoon to remove the fish cheeks about halfway through cooking. Add them to the flesh reserved from the head and collar.)
Meanwhile, wrap the tofu in paper towels and use a heavy plate to weight it (to help extract any liquid).
Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a separate pot; discard the bones. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then add the radish, zucchini, chili peppers, sweet onion, scallions, garlic, soy sauce, gochukaru and gojuchang; reduce the heat to medium and cook for 6 or 7 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir in the reserved fish flesh; cook for about 2 minutes or until it is tender and opaque.
Unweight/unwrap the tofu and cut it into large cubes. Add them and the edible chrysanthemum, if using, to the pot; cook for 2 to 3 minutes without stirring.
Season lightly with salt and pepper. Divide among individual bowls. Garnish each portion with the cilantro. Serve hot.
— Adapted by author Paul Greenberg from a recipe by About.com Korean food expert Naomi Imatome-Yun.