Luke Nguyen's Vietnamese fish cakes make perfect appetisers just as they are, or for a more substantial bite, wrap them in lettuce leaves with vermicelli noodles and herbs and serve with nuoc cham. The kids will love them too because they're not spicy, but you could always add a little chilli to the mixture for an extra kick.






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (185 votes)


  • 500 g skinless Spanish mackerel fillets, cut into cubes
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp sesame oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely diced
  • 5 spring onions, white part only, finely sliced
  • vegetable oil, for deep frying
  • nuoc mam cham (dipping fish sauce), to serve 

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Place the fish sauce in a small bowl next to a mortar and pestle.

Using the mortar and pestle, begin to pound the fish into a paste, continuing to dip the pestle into the fish sauce to prevent the fish sticking to it.

Now add salt, pepper, sesame oil, garlic and spring onion.

Continue to pound until you have used up all the fish sauce, combined all ingredients together, and the paste has become a fine, smooth and quite elastic.

Transfer the fish paste into a bowl, then use oiled hands to form the fish paste into 5 cm patties, about 2 cm thick.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the fish cakes in batches and fry for 4 minutes on each side until golden.

Serve with nuoc mam cham for dipping.