Cha Ca-Style Snapper

Chris Shepherd prepares a dish iconic to the city of Hanoi

Snapper is a delicate fish with firm, moist white meat. Chef Chris Shepherd suggests that though this fish is perfect for this particularly flavorful recipe, any other mild white fish works as well.

Snapper is usually sold skin-on, but be sure to ask the fishmonger to remove the vibrant rosy red-streaked skin.

If you're serving this dish to a group, have guests stack the ingredients into lettuce leaves for individual servings.

To learn more, read "One, Two, Cha Ca Snapper."

Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen

Cha Ca-Style Snapper
5 from 51 ratings
Learn to make Chris Shepherd's cha ca-style snapper, a Vietnamese dish prepared by marinating red snapper with yogurt, turmeric and dill before baking. It's served with rice noodles, fresh greens and herbs, pickled red onions and crispy rice papers.
Prep Time
45
minutes
Cook Time
8
minutes
Servings
4
servings
Total time: 53 minutes
Ingredients
  • For the Marinade
  • 1 cup whole-fat Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons minced shallot (1 medium shallot)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (1 garlic clove)
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger (1-inch piece)
  • ¼ cup minced jalapeño (1 small jalapeño)
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (1 lemon)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh dill
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pound snapper fillets, skin removed and cut into 4 pieces
  • For the Nước Mắm
  • ½ cup fish sauce
  • ⅓ cup rice wine vinegar
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sambal
  • 1½ teaspoons minced fresh ginger (from ¾-inch piece of ginger)
  • For the Pickled Red Onions
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 star anise pod
  • ½ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion (½ small red onion)
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • For Serving
  • 2 spring roll sheets (banh trang)
  • 10 ounces thin rice noodles, cooked and cooled
  • 1¼ cups nước mắm
  • 16 to 18 Bibb lettuce leaves, torn
  • 1½ cups shredded cabbage (¼ head of cabbage)
  • ¼ cup torn cilantro
  • ½ cup torn dill sprigs
  • ¼ cup green onion, thinly sliced into rounds (green parts only)
  • ⅓ cup pickled red onions
  • ⅓ cup crushed roasted peanuts
Directions
  1. Marinate the fish: In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except the snapper. Add the fish, cover and marinate for 2 hours or overnight.
  2. Make the nước mắm: In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients until the sugar dissolves. Cover and chill. Makes about 2 cups. Make ahead: The nước mắm can be made up to 2 weeks ahead.
  3. Make the pickled red onions: In a small bowl, combine the warm water, sugar and star anise, and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the rice wine vinegar, sliced onions and salt. Let sit until the onions turn pink and develop a pickled flavor, about 1 hour.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 400°. Remove the fish from the marinade, leaving a layer of it on the fillets, and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. Discard the leftover marinade. Bake until the fish is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, crisp the spring roll sheets. One sheet at a time, grill or microwave on high until the sheet crisps and puffs, 1 to 2 minutes. Break into bite-size pieces and set aside.
  6. To assemble: Divide the rice noodles among 4 bowls and lightly toss with some of the nước mắm. Place the lettuce leaves, cabbage, cilantro, dill and green onions in 1 large communal bowl or platter. To eat, place a piece of fish into each bowl and garnish with some of the greens and herbs along with the pickled red onions, peanuts, crispy spring roll sheets and additional nước mắm.
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