Ca Chung Tuong Recipe (Vietnamese Steamed Fish in Spicy Black Beans)


Cá chưng tương, which literally translates to ”steamed fish in black bean sauce,” is a staple Vietnamese seafood dish. It’s placed in the oven and steamed on a bed of vegetables. It’s seasoned so that the spicy, salted black bean mixture covers any fish smell while also infusing a ton of flavor.

A lot of Vietnamese cooking techniques are inspired by French cuisine because Vietnam was a longtime colony of the French empire. This dish is no exception. The whole fish is steamed, papillote-style in aluminum foil that acts like a steam chamber. The pocket infuses the fish with the flavor of the salty black beans. In addition to the black beans, I added fresh ginger, green onions and chiles. To prevent the fish from burning in the oven, I placed the whole salmon on a bed of fresh oyster mushrooms and thick slices of onions and carrots. Thin vermicelli noodles cover the fish to absorb any moisture.

I’d like to give a very special thanks to our awesome neighbor Tom for providing us the fresh fish in this dish. Tom is an avid fisherman in his spare time and graciously offered us his latest, impressive catch: a beautiful whole 2-½ pounds salmon.

1. Info for Ca Chung Tuong Recipe (Vietnamese Steamed Fish in Spicy Black Beans)

  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 60 mins
  • Servings: 6
  • Calories: 128kcal

2. Ingredients for Ca Chung Tuong Recipe (Vietnamese Steamed Fish in Spicy Black Beans)

  • 1 (2-½-pound) whole salmon
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup fish stock (or any broth)
  • 2 teaspoons grated palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon salted fermented black beans
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 tablespoons curly parsley
  • 1 tablespoon green onions, chopped
  • 1 carrot, cut into thick slices
  • 4 fresh oyster mushrooms, cut into thirds
  • 1 onion, cut into thick slices
  • 1 (2-ounce) package dried thin, clear vermicelli noodles

3. Directions:

  1. For the vermicelli rice noodles: Place the whole package of dried rice vermicelli noodles in a bowl. Don’t forget to cut the little threads  and discard them! Cover and soak the noodles in warm water for 10-15 minutes, then drain. Chop into 2-inch lengths. Set aside.
  2. For the salted black bean marinade: In a bowl, combine the freshly grated ginger, palm sugar, chopped jalapeño, black beans, soy sauce and garlic.
  3. Marinating the salmon: To begin, place the fish under running water while gutting and scaling the skin of the fish. Carefully remove the head and tail (optional). Make 4-5 deep parallel incisions into the flesh of the fish using a sharp knife. Drizzle with lemon juice. Season the fish with salt and pepper on both sides.  Let sit for 10 minutes. Place into a zip-top bag. Pour the marinade over the whole salmon. Place in a baking dish and store in the refrigerator. Marinate for at least an hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 500°F.
  5. Cooking the whole fish: Wrap the fish papillote-style: Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. Arrange a bed of carrots, oyster mushrooms, onions and green onions. Place the salmon on top of the veggies and its marinade. Garnish with vermicelli noodles and 2 tablespoons parsley. Add a cup of fish stock. Cover with another aluminum sheet. Seal the sides by twisting both aluminum sheet together. Place the fish in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes. Check the doneness of the fish. Depending on the size of the fish, lower the temperature to 375°F and bake for another 13-15 minutes. The texture of the salmon should be flaky but still moist. Do NOT over-cook. Remove the pan from the oven. Transfer the fish onto a platter. Let the fish rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. Remove the aluminum sheet. Garnish with the vegetables and curly parsley.
  6. Serve with steamed rice.
  7. Enjoy!

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