This Vietnamese Fried Fish Cake Noodle soup (bun cha ca) is a delicious combination of delicate fish cakes that are springy and a clear broth that is not heavy in weight, however, it is bursting by umami.
The most well-known breakfast option in Vietnam is soups made of noodles. Fried fish cake soup ( bun cha ca Da Nang) is loved by the people of all three areas of Vietnam particularly in the cities that are located near the sea. My birthplace (Da Nang* province in Vietnam) was a seaside town and had this dish as a kid many times.
The fish cake recipe that I’m sharing with you today is a real one. I cheat a little with the broth however. The most popular broth to make this soup is fish (or pork) bone broth, which is flavored with tomatoes. The broth I use in this recipe is tomato-based dashi broth that tastes exactly like the traditional version, while being far easier and faster to prepare. I’ve also added an image of my recipe for fish bone broth below.
Fish cakes that are springy and fried
Vietnamese Fried fish cake (cha ca) is delicious and scrumptious. It requires fish sauce garlic, shallots, garlic plenty of dill, and lots of black pepper to transform plain and bland fish paste into delicious fish cakes. Be generous with your black pepper, as the fish cakes require the scent and heat that black pepper provides.
One of the main features of Vietnamese the fish cake that is fried is its springy and dense texture. The kind of fish used in the recipe plays an important role in the texture. I highly recommend making use of solid, firm and fleshy fresh fish. White fillets are the best choice (no bones, without skin). I like using walleye, and the end result is delicious.
Please avoid using the cod that you buy. I’ve tried to make these fish cakes using cod previously, but it was a huge error. It was a mess. They just stuck in the pan, did not get the color right and were soft, with none of the springy flavor.
Another method I use to achieve the proper texture is to place it in freezers for about 1-2 hours. The objective is to make it firm and cold but not to freeze it.
Broth to make Vietnamese Fried fish cake noodle soup (Bun Cha Ca)
In a small town located in the U.S. now, I am having a hard time finding bones of fish that can be used that can be used to create broth. I have to make an advance purchase and the bones of fish which arrive don’t always appear appealing. If you’re able to buy bones from fish, look over my directions to prepare tomato bone broth for soup with noodles in my Vietnamese Fried Fish Noodle soup recipe.
As I mentioned at the start of this article The broth used in today’s recipe is a the flavor of tomato in dashi. Dashi is a classic cooking broth used that is used in Japanese food. Two ingredients are required: the kombu (kelp) and the katsuobushi (shavings of dried skipjack tuna smoked). They are readily available in Asian supermarkets. My American supermarket also stocks these on the Asian aisle.
Making dashi is straightforward and easy, as opposed to simmering bones of fish. So, using dashi to create the broth can reduce cooking time, and the clear broth tastes just like the ocean.
If you don’t want make Dashi broth or fish broth, there’s no need to worry. A good quality chicken or pork stock can also be used.
Bun Cha Ca – Vietnamese fried fish cake noodle soup
The broth is for (see the notes on substitutions)
- 6 cups of water
- 2 pieces 4"x4" kombu
- 3 cups katsuobushi
- 12 oz ripe tomatoes
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
Fish cakes for the cake
- 1 walleye fillet of 1 lb (or any other white fish that is firm fillet) (no bone, and no skin)
- 1/4 cup dill
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 4 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- A little bit of salt
- black pepper
- dried vermicelli noodles
- Scallion, finely chopped (for garnishing)
- Dill Finely cut (for garnishing)
- cilantro minced finely (for garnishing)
- More olive oil to fry
- 1 to 2 hours before cooking, dry the fish and place fish fillets in the freezer for a few hours to keep them cool and firm.
- Use a damp newspaper towel and gently cleanse the kombu. Don't wipe clean the white powder that is on the surface of kombu it is a rich source of umami. Combine kombu with water in a saucepan and set on a medium-high temperature. Bring it to a barely simmer, then remove the kombu.
- Include katsuobushi in the broth and bring it to a boil , then switch off the heat. It should sit for about 10 minutes before removing the katsuobushi out of the broth.
- Then turn on the heating. Quarter tomatoes. Add tomatoes as well as one and a half tablespoons of the fish sauce. When the broth begins to boil, turn down the heat, cover the pan and allow it to simmer for a while.
- While the kombu is simmering in the second step above, remove the fish fillets out of the freezer and cut into smaller pieces. Put the fish along with all other ingredients needed to make a the fish cakes in food processors, and make a sticky mix.
- Transfer the fish paste from the food processor into mixing bowl. Knead for approximately 2 minutes until you have an even, smooth and springy mixture of fish paste.
- When you steep katsuobushi in the stock as described in 3. above step, you need to take 1/2 teaspoon or 2 tablespoons of fish sauce and form thin patties.
- Affix a frying pan to medium-high temperature. Incorporate oil and fry fish cakes until the edges are crisp and the side are golden (about 2 minutes on each side). Transfer onto a plate covered with paper towels.
- Vermicelli noodles should be prepared according to the instructions on the package.
- Test the broth and adjust the seasoning according to your taste. Serve vermicelli noodles in a serving bowls, then top with fried fish cakes , Dill, scallion and cilantro. Pour hot broth over the noodles and take your time to.