“If you like fish cakes, Quy Nhon is the place to visit. Nowhere else in Vietnam has as many artisans specialising in fish cakes. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from. These fish cakes can be eaten on their own, tossed in salads, put in a crisp baguette or added to noodle soups.” – Luke Nguyen



1 tablespoon fish sauce

500g skinless, boneless Spanish mackerel fillets, cut into 1 cm cubes

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

¼ teaspoon sesame oil

1 garlic clove, finely diced

5 spring onions, thinly sliced, white part only

vegetable oil, for deep-frying

Nuoc Mam Cham dipping sauce, to serve


Place the fish sauce in a small bowl next to a large mortar and pestle.

Using the mortar and pestle, begin to pound the fish into a paste, frequently dipping the pestle into the fish sauce to prevent the fish sticking to it. (Alternatively, blend the fish in a food processor by pulsing the flesh and regularly scraping down the sides of the bowl.)

Now add the salt, pepper, sesame oil, garlic and spring onion.

Continue to pound until you have used up all the fish sauce and combined all the ingredients together — and the paste, including the spring onions, has become fine, smooth and quite elastic. You’re after a smooth purée.

Transfer the fish paste mixture into a bowl, then use oiled hands to form the mixture into 5 cm patties, about 2 cm thick.

Add 2–3 cm vegetable oil to a large non-stick frying pan and heat over medium heat. Add the fish cakes in batches and fry for 4 minutes on each side, or until golden.

Serve the fish cakes on their own as a snack, or wrap them in lettuce leaves, adding some noodles and herbs to the parcel.

Serve with Nuoc Mam Cham for dipping.

Recipe from Luke Nguyen’s: The Food of Vietnam.

Click here to purchase the book now.

Phuong Nguyen