About two-hour flight from Hanoi, Nha Trang is a famous coastal city the South-Central Coast of Vietnam. The city is well known for its sandy beaches, diving sites, scuba diving, and offshore islands with beautiful coral reefs. And of cause, this is home of great sea food dishes, especially the eye-catching king lobsters and fish noodle soup.
In our most recent trip to Nha Trang, we talked to a local lady selling fish noodle soup on Tran Phu Street, her tasty noodle soup was full of fish patty (fish terrine or cha ca in Vietnamese) – made from mackerel, black marlin, flying fish, long pectoral fin minnow, barracuda, and lizard-fish….
Following is the recipe to make Nha Trang style fish noodle soup that she shared with us, which is good to share with four people.
- 2kg pork bones
- 2kg fresh tuna and mackerel (with bones is better)
- 1kg fillet of fresh sea water fish
- 2 duck eggs (separated into yolks and whites)
- 350g shallot (chopped 2tbsp, charred 100g, sliced then fried 200g)
- 150g port fat (blanched then diced into small cubes)
- 1 onion (sliced)
- 4kg chewy noodles (called banh canh in Vietnamese)
- 300g chopped green onion
- 200g cilantro
- 100g garlic
- 5 limes
- 100g chili
- 150g charred fresh ginger
- 2tbsp chili flakes
- 3 tbsp oil of annatto seeds
- ½ cup of melted fat (with fat bits)
- 1/2 tbsp ground pepper, seasoning pounder, sea salt, rock sugar, nuoc mam.
Wash the bones well, blanch then make a stock with 10L water & 1 tbsp sea salt. Skim off the scum when the stock starts to boil. Add charred ginger & charred shallot. Lower the heat and simmer for 3 to 4 hours. Skim gradually.
Steam or boil the tuna in the stock. Carve to get the meat, then add the bones to the stock. Crush the tuna meat into small crumbs.
Marinate the fish fillet with 3 tbsp chopped shallot, 2 tbsp chopped garlic. Pound until the fish becomes a smooth paste and sticky when touched. Add 2 egg whites, diced fat, 2 tbsp chopped onion. Continue to pound then add ½ tbsp nuoc mam, 2/3 tbsp seasoning pounder, 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp sugar, and 1 tbsp pepper.
Roll the fish patty into small balls (size of a cherry). Steam ½ of the fish balls until cooked through. Wipe on a kitchen towel until dry then coat them with egg yolk. Deep fry the other ½.
Soak the chilly flakes into 1 cup of warm water. Then make a chili paste. Strain the stock. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed (with sea salt, rock sugar and fish sauce). Just before serving, cook the noodles in boiling water. Drain the water then add to the stock. Add the crumbed fish.
In a medium bowl, arrange the noodles, then the steam fish and fish balls on top. Pour in the hotel stock till cover the noodles. Sprinkle with chopped green onion and cilantro. Serve hot with chopped chilly and fish sauce.
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