Vietnamese Grilled Fish - Ca Nuong Recipe

Grilled fish in banana leaves
MaXx Images / StockFood Creative / Getty Images
  • Total: 35 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: Serves 6
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
338 Calories
5g Fat
57g Carbs
21g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: Serves 6
Amount per serving
Calories 338
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 261mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 57g 21%
Dietary Fiber 21g 73%
Protein 21g
Calcium 109mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Aromatic, richly flavored and super moist, this Vietnamese grilled fish is a fine illustration of why, in many cases, less is more. The seasonings and spices are few but they are just enough to bring out the fresh flavors of the fish.

Wrapping the fish in banana leaf prior to grilling keeps as much of the moisture in while still allowing the fish to acquire a smoky flavor and aroma. The banana leaf also imparts its own flavor and aroma to the fish which give it another layer of richness.

Choose a firm and fleshy fish to make this dish. Ask the fishmonger to clean it for you by removing the scales, gills, and guts. Leave the fish in one piece, however. And under no circumstances cut it into fillets. Most of the flavor of the fish is in the bones and you definitely do not want to lose any of it.​


  • 1 whole fish, about 4 pounds
  • 1/2 cup shredded fresh ginger root
  • 6 finely chopped shallots
  • 1 bird's eye chili (thinly sliced)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (thinly sliced)
  • 4 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons fresh limeKalamansi or lemon juice
  • 6 shallots (thinly sliced)
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts (coarsely chopped)
  • pepper to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Score the fish by slashing the flesh three or four times on each side, the depth of the slashes midway between the skin and the bone.

  2. Place the fish in a shallow bowl. Stuff the fish cavity with the shredded ginger, chopped shallots, lemongrass, and chili. Season inside and out with the soy sauce and lime, kalamansi or lemon juice.

  3. If using banana leaf, see instructions on how to prepare.

  4. Place banana leaf or aluminum foil on a flat surface. Brush the exposed side with oil.

  5. Arrange the fish at the center of the banana leaf or foil (pour in the remaining marinade). Drizzle a tablespoonful of oil over the fish.

  6. Wrap the fish up securely in the banana leaf or foil. The fish can be cooked in a preheated 400F oven, on a stovetop grill or over live coals. Allow the fish to cook until the banana leaves turn brown. A two-kilogram fish will cook in about 20 minutes.

  7. If using a stovetop grill or live coals, place the parcel on a rack at least six inches from the heat. If too close to the heat, the fish might get overcooked near the skin but undercooked at the center. Flip over after about 12 minutes.

  8. While the fish cooks on the grill, prepare the garnish. In a wok or saucepan, fry the sliced shallots in about two tablespoons of oil until softened. Covering the saucepan or wok will cause the onions to soften more quickly.

  9. When the fish is done, unwrap and top with the fried shallots and chopped peanuts.