I am missing my family this weekend, and decided Saturday morning that I wanted to go out and buy food to make for Tet. So Rick and I went out in the snow on Saturday morning to hit Chinatown and the Vietnamese grocery store over there on Grand near Chrystie, to pick up a few things.
I made these cha ca today for part of my spread for Tet. I have always loved cha ca, and there's something about dill and salmon that are so perfect together - check out this Vietnamese soup with salmon and dill sometime. I also made a few other dishes, recipes to follow :)
This is a multi-step process so plan accordingly. First, marinate the salmon a few hours or overnight. Then run through a food processor to make your paste. Then mix in your fresh herbs. Make your salmon patties and steam them for a few minutes. Then pan-fry them on each side. Slice to serve. This is great with a little Vietnamese dipping sauce, nuoc cham, and you can serve as part of a larger meal. You can also roll the slices up with some rice noodles and some fresh herbs in rice paper and dip in nuoc cham.
Makes about 18 patties about 3" in diameter
- 2-1/2 lbs. salmon fillet, skin removed, fish cut into 1" cubes
- 4-5 scallions, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp.) fish sauce
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1- 1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground pepper
- 1/3 cup finely chopped dill
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
- Vegetable or canola oil to fry
In a food processor, run half of the garlic through. Add half of the salmon mixture and run through the processor until you have a nice paste. Scrape down the bowl a few times until the mixture is ready. It'll have a little bounce to it. Scrape it out into a bowl. Repeat with the second half of the garlic and the salmon mixture. Gently mix in the chopped dill and cilantro into the salmon paste.
Set up your steamer, filling the bottom about halfway with water and bring to a boil. Cut up some parchment paper into 18 x 3" squares. Set up your assembly area. Place a tray or large plate and set out some of the parchment squares. Set up a small bowl of water near your assembly area to help form the patties. With a large spoon, scoop up some of the salmon mixture and put it onto a parchment square. with one of our hands, dip your palm into the water and pat the scoop of mixture down to form a patty - it doesn't have to be perfect.
On the steamer tray, place several salmon patties down (still on top of their parchment squares), and make sure there is a little space in between each of them. Put the lid on top and steam for about 6 minutes. They'll be puffed and very light, almost whitish in color. Remove the patties and place on a plate or tray to cool down. Steam the rest of the patties. When they cool down, they'll become a little pinkish again and will deflate a little bit. In the picture below, the ones on the left have cooled down a bit and have regained some of their color. The ones on the right are fresh out of the steamer and are much lighter. As they cool down, they'll regain some color and drink down a bit.
Cut into slices to serve. Serve as is, or with a little Vietnamese dipping sauce, nuoc cham. You can serve the cha ca as an appetizer, as part of a larger spread, or roll the slices up with some rice noodles and some fresh herbs in rice paper and dip in nuoc cham.
You can freeze some of them after they have been steamed and cooled down, wrapped in plastic and put into a freezer bag. Defrost and then pan fry another time to serve.