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Turmeric Dill Fish Curry

I fell in love with it years ago, when I first tried it while backpacking in South East Asia, (which is a whole story in itself, to be told someday in the future). The smell of this dish stuck with me, as you would see these bubbling skillets with the recognizable turmeric hue at every side table walking the street of Hanoi, Vietnam. What also captured me right away was the use of dill, which is such an oddity to discover in South Asian kitchens.


This is my take in this Vietnamese classic from Hanoi.

So... let's do it!



For the fish

  • 1 lb (450g) Halibut. Boneless and skinless. Cut into 3inch (7cm) pieces.


This recipe calls for a firm white fish. In Hanoi it is typically made with Monkfish or other river fish types. Here in the states, Tilapia, cod, sea bass or Halibut works best in my opinion. Please make sure to get fresh fish rather than frozen. Frozen fish when thawed, tend to disintegrate in the pan. If you do use frozen fish, then I strongly suggest to lightly coat the fish with rice flour or corn flour before cooking.

  • 1 1/2 -inch piece galangal. If substituting for ginger, then use half the suggested quantity.

  • 1 Thai chili (Birds eye) or serrano chili if you cant find Thai chilies in your area. green

  • 3 Tbsp fish sauce (*see note below)

  • 3 Garlic cloves, finely grated, divided

  • 2 Tbsp neutral oil

  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (stems included)

  • 1/2 bunch dill (about 1/2 cup) stems removed.

  • 6-8 dill stems with leafs.

  • 2 limes

  • 1 cup warm water

  • 1 Tsp Turmeric powder (*see note below)

  • 1 Tsp Curry powder (*see note below)

  • 1/2 Tsp Chili powder ((*see note below)

  • 1 Tsp white pepper

  • 2 Tbsp Sugar

  • 4 Scallions, white parts very thinly sliced lengthwise, green parts cut into 3-inch pieces

  • 1 cup sushi rice

  • 1 Cup roasted peanuts


Here at SUSU KITCHEN we know and appreciate you're busy. So to try and make things easier, we have put together these links to some of the ingredients you may source online, in the case you find it challenging to source in your area;

  • Fish sauce. A must in my kitchen. Its a 'magic wand' in a liquid format that just makes everything taste so... much better! There are loads of brands out there, but it is also agreed (by most) that Vietnamese brands tend to be the best. Of all the brands I find that the Three Crab brand works best for me. I like the balance this sauce has, introducing mild yet pungent notes.

Three Crab Fish Sauce Link

  • Spices. Now that everyone may agree with me here, but when I search for spices, I tend to stick with brands from the Middle East or India. I find that those regions tend to source the best blends that deliver the best desired results.

Here's the links for the spices used in this recipe:


Step 1

First, let's make the marinade. To a mortar and pestle add:

  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (stems included)

  • 3 cloves garlic. peeled and quartered.

  • Pinch salt

Pound the cilantro and garlic into a coarse paste. Sprinkle some salt ontop to ease the grinding action. We're looking for a pesto like consistency here. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

In a medium size bowl combine:

  • 1 lb (450g) Halibut cut into 3 inch pieces

  • 1 Tsp Turmeric powder

  • 1 Tsp Curry powder

  • 1/2 Tsp Chili powder

  • 1 Tsp white pepper

  • 1 Tbsp Fish sauce

  • 2 Tbsp neutral oil

  • 1 Tsp sugar (optional). Sugar helps the browning.

  • Cilantro and garlic paste

Mix well all ingredients and set aside in the refrigerator while continuing to work on other components of the dish.


Step 3

Let's turn our attention to the rice. Traditionally this dish is served with Vermicelli rice noodles. Similar to thin angle hair pasta. However since I wanted to play a twist on this dish and turn it into a fish curry, I therefore feel it will be better served with a bowl of 'Sushi rice' or sticky rice.

To make the rice start with 1 cup of sushi rice, and rinse under cold tap water. Watch for the water to turn clear, which means we washed some of the gluten that resides with the rice, and we are ready for action.

If you have a rice cooker or 'Insta pot' good on ya! drop the rice in the pot and go and tend to some emails or instagram... However, if you don't, then grab a pot and over low medium heat, add 1 Tbsp neutral oil, then add 2 finely chopped garlic cloves. (I like to grade the cloves on a microplane straight into the pot). Saute garlic for 1-2 minutes then add the cup of rinsed rice.

Saute the rice until turn translucent (roughly 2 minutes), then add 2 cups of boiling water and increase the heat to medium, bringing the rice and into a boil. Watch as the water starts to evaporate, using a fork to check the bottom of the pot for water. Reduce heat somewhat if needed so not to burn the rice. Once water has evaporated. Cover with a lid (you may also want to place a kitchen towel over the pot before placing the lid ontop), and set aside for 20 minutes letting the rice continuing to fully cook.

Uncover, aerate the rice using a fork and season with salt.


Step 4

Now let's cook the fish. This is going to be quick. So make sure you have everything you need in advance.

  • Place a pan over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp of neutral oil

  • Gently add the fish filets with the marinade and sear on both sides. Give the fish a gentle wiggle, making sure they do not stick to the pan.

  • Flip the fish over to finish cooking on the other side, and when almost ready... add the spring onions and dill .

  • Top with 1 cup of water and simmer for 30 seconds

  • Remove from heat and serve table center immediately (we do not want this dish to get cold)


Final Step

I like to serve this dish table center as they do in Hanoi, Vietnam, but also all across Asia.

I set the table with small bowls and the pot of rice, with the Nuoc Cham and roasted peanuts ready (some extra fresh scallions and dill wont hurt as well).

Grab a bowl and add some rice. Then top it with fish curry filets, and don't forget to top it with that delicious Turmeric dill sauce. Then I like to add some nuoc cham and roasted peanuts for crunch.