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Grilled Catfish with Noodles (Cha Ca)

Yield Makes 6 servings
Notes: At the Noodle Ranch in Seattle, head chef Nga Bui sets a hot, spicy fish fillet on a bed of rice noodles and greens for a light, refreshing meal in a bowl. Red curry powder can be found in the spice section of many supermarkets; if it's unavailable, use the more common yellow powder. The grilled fish can also be served with hot cooked rice or in a sandwich.


  • 1/3 cup minced shallots
  • 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla)
  • 1 tablespoon red or yellow curry powder (see notes)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed or minced
  • 6 boned, skinned catfish or tilapia fillets (about 6 oz. each)
  • About 2 tablespoons salad oil
  • 4 cups bite-size pieces iceberg lettuce (8 oz.), rinsed and crisped
  • 3 cups bean sprouts (6 to 8 oz.), rinsed
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, rinsed
  • 6 to 8 cups cooled Cooked Rice Noodles (about 1/8 in. wide)
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions (including tops)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • About 1/2 cup Fried Shallots
  • About 1 1/2 cups Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

Nutrition Information

  • calories 705
  • caloriesfromfat 38 %
  • protein 36 g
  • fat 30 g
  • satfat 5.2 g
  • carbohydrate 72 g
  • fiber 3.1 g
  • sodium 1316 mg
  • cholesterol 56 mg

How to Make It

  1. In a small bowl, mix minced shallots, fish sauce, curry powder, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, and garlic. Rinse fish and pat dry. Rub shallot mixture all over fillets and stack in a bowl. Cover and chill 30 minutes or up to 1 day.

  2. Brush both sides of fillets lightly with oil. Place fish on a grill 4 to 6 inches above a solid bed of hot coals or over high heat on a gas grill (you can hold your hand at grill level only 2 to 3 seconds); cover gas grill. Cook fish, turning once, until barely opaque but still moist-looking in center of thickest part (cut to test), 4 to 8 minutes total. Serve hot or cool.

  3. Meanwhile, divide lettuce, bean sprouts, mint, and cilantro among six deep, wide bowls. Mound noodles equally over vegetables and herbs.

  4. Lay a grilled fish fillet on each mound of noodles. Sprinkle peanuts, green onions, dill, and Fried Shallots equally over the top. Serve with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce to drizzle over portions to taste.

Noodle Ranch