My take on a classic Vietnamese baked fish recipe but made with salmon (ca hoi nuong)! Salmon is marinated in soy sauce, oyster sauce, and garlic then baked before getting topped with scallion oil and peanuts. It’s the perfect weeknight family dinner.
Oftentimes growing up my family and I would go to restaurants to eat something we can’t make at home. My mom and grandma are excellent cooks but honestly, some dishes were beyond their knowledge. This dish ca nuong is one of them. Ca nuong is traditionally made with catfish, but I saw a friend of mine do it with salmon so I thought I would try it. I’ve turned Vietnamese catfish recipes into salmon recipes in the past like in my ca hoi kho, and the results have turned out amazing! I personally love this ca nuong with salmon recipe, and it’s so weeknight dinner friendly too!
What is ca nuong?
Ca nuong is a popular dish in Vietnam where catfish is marinated then roasted or grilled. It is then topped with scallion oil (mo hanh) and crushed peanuts. Ca is the Vietnamese word for fish, and nuong is the Vietnamese word for grilled or roasted. I made my own version of this recipe using salmon because it is easier to find where I live, and I personally prefer salmon to catfish. Additionally, I’ve used salmon in the past in my garlic butter salmon vermicelli bowls, so I know I like it in vermicelli bowls.
How do you eat ca hoi nuong?
There are 2 different ways you can eat ca hoi nuong. The most traditional way is in a spring roll with fresh herbs and vermicelli noodles, all wrapped in rice paper. When I eat this dish at a restaurant, the fish, fresh vegetables, and vermicelli are placed at the table, and each person grabs what they want in their spring roll and rolls their own. Each person then dips the spring roll in a tamarind dipping sauce. It’s a very communal experience.
The second way you can eat this is in a vermicelli bowl, which is what is shown in the images here. I think this is the easier way to enjoy ca nuong because you just throw everything into a bowl and enjoy! I also use Vietnamese dipping sauce instead of tamarind dipping sauce because I prefer it, and I don’t know how to make the tamarind dipping sauce yet.
Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments
- Salmon – You can use any cut of salmon for this recipe. I use a 2 pound fillet for mine.
- Garlic – Adds flavor to the dish. It also helps reduce the fishy flavor of the dish.
- Sesame oil – Adds earthy, smokey flavor to the dish.
- Lemon juice – Lemon juice adds some freshness and brightness to the dish. This can be substituted with rice wine vinegar or distilled white vinegar.
- Fish sauce – Adds umami flavor to the dish.
- Soy sauce and oyster sauce – Adds umami flavor to the dish. To make this dish gluten free, substitute both with tamari. A good substitute for oyster sauce is more soy sauce.
- Granulated sugar – Adds a little bit of sweetness to this dish to balance our the savory flavors. Good substitutes are honey and maple syrup.
- Unsalted butter – Butter is used to give the salmon it’s nice golden color and to add a bit of nuttiness to it.
- Green onions and vegetable oil – These two ingredients combined make scallion oil or mo hanh. This makes the dish look pretty and adds another layer of flavor to it. You can use almost any kind of oil for this, but I personally like using some sort of neutral oil such as vegetable oil or grape seed oil. I’ve also done it with light olive oil, and it works!
- Peanuts – Adds a bit of crunch to the dish. Both this ingredient and the scallion oil are traditionally served on top of the dish.
Making my ca hoi nuong recipe
First, prep the baking sheet. Put 2 layers of aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Put the salmon top. Combine minced garlic, sesame oil, lemon juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and granulated sugar in a bowl. Mix and coat the salmon with the marinade. Let it marinate for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Drizzle melted butter over the top of the salmon. Bring together the ends of the first piece of aluminum foil to enclose the salmon. If you have a big piece of salmon, you may need another piece of aluminum foil. Bake in the oven covered for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, uncover the salmon and bring the oven to broil. Broil the salmon for 5-10 minutes until it gets a light golden brown on top. Remove from the oven. Combine green onions and vegetable oil in a sauce pan. Cook for 10-15 seconds until the green onions are shiny. Drizzle over the salmon. Lastly, top with peanuts and serve.
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Ca Hoi Nuong (Vietnamese Baked Salmon)
- 2 lb salmon
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter melted
- 2 tbsp green onions thinly sliced
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp peanuts crushed
- Put 2 layers of aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Put the salmon top.
- Combine minced garlic, sesame oil, lemon juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and granulated sugar in a bowl. Mix and coat the salmon with the marinade. Let it marinate for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C).
- Drizzle melted butter over the top of the salmon.
- Bring together the ends of the first piece of aluminum foil to enclose the salmon. If you have a big piece of salmon, you may need another piece of aluminum foil.
- Bake in the oven covered for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, uncover the salmon and bring the oven to broil. Broil the salmon for 5-10 minutes until it gets a light golden brown on top. Remove from the oven.
- Combine green onions and vegetable oil in a sauce pan. Cook for 10-15 seconds until the green onions are shiny. Drizzle over the salmon.
- Lastly, top with peanuts and serve.
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