How to Make Delicious Ca Nuong: A Step-by-Step Recipe Guide



Are you ready to embark on a culinary adventure that will tantalize your taste buds? Look no further than ca nuong, a flavorful Vietnamese grilled fish dish that is sure to impress your family and friends. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of making the perfect ca nuong at home. Whether you are a seasoned chef or a novice in the kitchen, this recipe is guaranteed to satisfy your cravings.

What is Ca Nuong?

Ca nuong, which translates to “grilled fish” in Vietnamese, is a popular dish that is often enjoyed as part of a family meal or during special occasions. It involves marinating a whole fish in a flavorful mixture of herbs and spices, and then grilling it to perfection. The result is a succulent and fragrant dish that showcases the natural flavors of the fish.


Before we dive into the cooking process, let’s gather all the ingredients you will need for ca nuong:

  • 1 whole fish (such as sea bass or snapper), scaled and gutted
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons of lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • Fresh herbs (such as cilantro or Thai basil) for garnish

Marinating the Fish

1. In a bowl, combine the minced garlic, grated ginger, chopped lemongrass, fish sauce, soy sauce, honey, vegetable oil, and lime juice. Mix well to create a marinade.

2. Place the fish in a shallow dish or a resealable plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the fish, ensuring that it is evenly coated. If using a plastic bag, seal it tightly to prevent any leaks.

3. Refrigerate the fish and let it marinate for at least 2 hours, or overnight for maximum flavor. Remember to flip the fish halfway through to allow the marinade to penetrate both sides.

Grilling the Fish

1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. If you do not have a grill, you can also use a grill pan or even an oven broiler.

2. Remove the fish from the marinade and let any excess drip off. Reserve the remaining marinade for basting.

3. Place the fish on the grill and cook for about 5-7 minutes per side, or until the flesh is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.

4. While grilling, brush the fish with the reserved marinade to keep it moist and enhance the flavor.

5. Once the fish is cooked, carefully transfer it to a serving platter. Garnish with fresh herbs, such as cilantro or Thai basil.

Serving Suggestions

Ca nuong is traditionally served with steamed rice and a side of fresh vegetables. You can also accompany it with a dipping sauce made from lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, chili peppers, and garlic. This sauce adds a tangy and spicy kick to the dish, enhancing its overall taste.

For a complete Vietnamese feast, consider serving ca nuong alongside other classic dishes like spring rolls, banh mi, or pho.

Tips and Tricks

  • Choose a fish that is fresh and of high quality. Look for clear eyes, shiny skin, and a fresh smell.
  • If grilling a whole fish seems intimidating, you can also use fillets or fish steaks. Adjust the cooking time accordingly to ensure they are cooked through.
  • Experiment with different herbs and spices to customize the marinade according to your preferences. Lemongrass, ginger, and garlic are classic flavor enhancers, but you can also add elements like chili peppers, lemons, or shallots to create your own unique twist.
  • Ensure that the grill is well-oiled before placing the fish to prevent it from sticking. You can also use a fish basket or aluminum foil to make flipping easier.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I use a different type of fish?
  2. Yes, you can use any type of fish that is suitable for grilling. Whole fish like sea bass, snapper, or trout work well, but you can also use fish fillets or steaks if you prefer.

  3. Can I marinate the fish for longer than overnight?
  4. Absolutely! Marinating the fish for longer periods, such as 24 hours, will intensify the flavors. However, be mindful not to exceed 48 hours, as the fish may become too mushy.

  5. Can I use a gas grill instead of charcoal?
  6. Yes, a gas grill will work just fine. Adjust the heat accordingly to achieve the desired level of char and smokiness.

  7. Can I bake the fish instead of grilling it?
  8. Yes, you can bake the fish in a preheated oven at 400°F (200°C) for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through. Remember to baste the fish with the marinade and flip it halfway through.


Ca nuong is a delightful Vietnamese dish that showcases the beauty of grilled fish. By following this step-by-step guide, you can create a mouthwatering ca nuong in the comfort of your own kitchen. From marinating the fish to grilling it to perfection, every step of the process is crucial to achieve a dish that is bursting with flavor. So why wait? Gather your ingredients, fire up your grill, and get ready to impress your loved ones with this incredible ca nuong recipe.

Key Takeaways

  • Ca nuong is a Vietnamese grilled fish dish that is marinated in a flavorful mixture of herbs and spices, then cooked to perfection.
  • The key ingredients for ca nuong include garlic, ginger, lemongrass, fish sauce, soy sauce, honey, vegetable oil, lime juice, and fresh herbs for garnish.
  • Grill the fish for approximately 5-7 minutes per side, or until it is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. Baste the fish with the reserved marinade while grilling to enhance the flavor.
  • Serve ca nuong with steamed rice, fresh vegetables, and a tangy dipping sauce made from lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, chili peppers, and garlic.
  • Experiment with different herbs, spices, and types of fish to create your own unique twist on this classic dish.


  1. Nguyen, A. (2016). Vietnamese Food Any Day: Simple Recipes for True, Fresh Flavors. Ten Speed Press.
  2. Le, A. (2019). The Vietnamese Cookbook: Delicious and Authentic Vietnamese Recipes That You Can Cook at Home. Independently Published.
  3. Nguyen, M. (2012). Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors. Ten Speed Press.
  4. Traditional Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham). (n.d.). Retrieved from


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