Cha ca La Vong

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

This is the signature dish in my local Vietnamese restaurant, Cay Tre in Old Street, London EC1. The food writer Alastair Hendy, who also lives locally, has the recipe for this classic fish dish in his new book Food and Travels: Asia (Mitchell Beazley, £25).

This is the signature dish in my local Vietnamese restaurant, Cay Tre in Old Street, London EC1. The food writer Alastair Hendy, who also lives locally, has the recipe for this classic fish dish in his new book Food and Travels: Asia (Mitchell Beazley, £25).

At Cay Tre they serve and finish it in a frying pan at the table along with its classic accompaniment of cooked vermicelli noodles, crushed toasted peanuts and nouc cham, a Vietnamese condiment made of fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, rice vinegar, chillies and garlic.

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
30-40g galangal, peeled and finely grated
20-30g fresh turmeric root, scraped and finely grated or 2tsp ground turmeric
1tbsp fish sauce
1 small medium red chilli, finely chopped
1/2tsp caster sugar
500g firm white fish fillet like monkfish, huss, halibut or brill, cut into rough 2cm chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1tbsp vegetable oil
100g dill, roughly chopped, stalks and all

Mix the garlic, galangal, turmeric, fish sauce, chilli, and sugar together with the fish, season and leave to marinade overnight. Heat the vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan, preferably a wok-style one, and sauté the fish for 3-4 minutes, giving it a nice colour. Scatter the dill on top and if you have a table top burner or portable gas burner, place it on the dining table and finish it in front of your guests for a few minutes, stirring a few times until the dill wilts. Serve with the accompaniments of your choice - rice or noodles, peanuts and a dipping sauce, for example.

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