• Hanoi grilled fish (Food Safari Water)Source: Food Safari Water

Originating in the old quarters of Hanoi in the 1890’s, this dish became so popular that it has its own street named after it. Fish, turmeric and fresh dill combine to make this wonderfully fragrant Vietnamese classic. Food Safari Water






Skill level

Average: 3.8 (30 votes)


  • 1 kg ling fish fillet, cleaned, pat dried, cut into 3 cm x 4 cm pieces (see note)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp Vietnamese fermented shrimp paste 
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped dill
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper 
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing  
  • Freshly roasted peanuts and rice wine or sake, to serve



  • 1 tbsp finely chopped spring onion
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped golden shallot
  • 2 tbsp chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped galangal
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh turmeric or 1 tsp ground turmeric 
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 100 ml lemon juice
  • 100 ml lard
  • 50 ml fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp Vietnamese fermented shrimp paste



  • 2 tsp strong white spirit (try vodka, gin, rice wine or sake)
  • 50 g Vietnamese fermented shrimp paste 
  • 100 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1-2 drops mangdana essence (ca cuong), see note
  • 1 tsp finely chopped chilli



  • 150 g rice vermicelli noodles
  • 50 ml pork lard
  • 100 g dill, cut into 2 cm lengths
  • 100 g green spring onion tops, cut into 2 cm lengths
  • 1 cup each coriander leaves, mint leaves, dill 
  • 1 cup thinly sliced white spring onions 

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.


Marinating time: 1 hr

For the marinade, place all the ingredients into a blender and process until creamy and smooth.

Place the fish in a shallow dish. Pour over the fish sauce, shrimp paste, pepper and dill and toss to coat. Add the marinade, stir to coat well, then spread the fish into a single layer, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, for the sauce, mix together the spirit and shrimp paste. Add the lemon juice, mangdana essence and chilli and set aside.

Preheat a charcoal barbecue. Wipe a fish cage with a little oil to prevent the fish from sticking. Place the marinated fish in a single layer in the cage and close the latch. Grill over charcoal for about 2 minutes on each side or until just cooked.

For the condiments, cook the noodles according to packet instructions, then drain well. Melt the lard in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the dill and the chopped green spring onion tops and toss until just wilted. Add the cooked fish to the pan and gently combine without breaking apart the fish.

To serve, place a small bundle of cooked rice noodles in each bowl. Too with fresh herbs, some of the cooked dill and shallots and a piece of fish. Drizzle over a little dipping sauce and garnish with the white ends of the spring onions. Serve with a handful of roasted peanuts and rice wine.

• Lien uses rock or pink ling but any firm white fish fillet will work.

• Mangdana liquid is extracted from the thorax of the giant water bug (called cà cuống in Vietnamese). It is used in very sparing quantities to add a unique flavour to dipping sauces, broths and noodle dishes. Available from Asian supermarkets.


Maeve O'Meara is back in Food Safari Water starting 8pm, Wednesday 1 August on SBS and then you can catch-up on all episodes via SBS On Demand. Visit the program page for recipes, videos and more.