Cha Ca, Hanoi's Classic Dish
“There’s actually a secret ingredient to cha ca,” Hung told me after the server walked away from our table. Hung, a chef and Hanoi native, was introducing me to his city’s classic dish at the restaurant Cha Ca Kinh Ky. “But if I told you, you wouldn’t want to eat it.”
Soon the server returned to deposit on our table a constellation of flavors: a mound of rice noodles, a dollop of shrimp paste, some fish sauce, a couple branches of baby basil, a small bowl of peanuts, and a large bowl of bright green dill and spring onions. Another server brought a frying pan filled with turmeric-laced chunks of ca lang, or Hemibagrus—a genus of catfish—and placed it atop a small portable burner at the center of our table. He mixed in some of the dill and spring onions, and we watched as our meal began to take shape.
From “Hanoi’s Greatest Catch” by David Farley for Afar; Photo by Justin Mott (@askmott)
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