• 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Serves 4

Chris Shepherd is a champion of Houston’s incredibly diverse immigrant cuisines. In his restaurants, he calls out the names of the cooks — Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, and others — who have inspired him, and in his book, he teaches how to work with those flavors and cultures with respect and creativity.

The Cha Ca Style Snapper is a dish that Shepherd tried in Vietnam:

Having that experience of trying the dish that originated to a specific region in Vietnam gave me the context and the understanding to work on a recipe inspired by the cha ca — one that was entirely my own, while still using the framework of the classic dish. This became one of the only contact dishes on the Underbelly menu!” – Chris Shepherd, Underbelly

Chris Shepherd – Cha Ca Style Snapper
Photo by Julie Soefer



  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 shallot, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 jalapeño, diced (seeds and stem removed)
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh dill
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Four 6-oz snapper fillets

Ginger Nuoc Cham

  • 1 cup fish sauce
  • 3/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
  • 2 Tbsp sambal
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger

Pickled Red Onion

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 2 large red onions, julienned

Noodle Bowls

  • One 12-oz package of rice noodles
  • 6 oz shredded cabbage
  • 1 head Bibb lettuce, leaves torn
  • 1/4 cup crushed roasted peanuts
  • 2 Tbsp torn fresh dill
  • 2 green onions, trimmed, cut into 1-in. pieces



  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, shallot, garlic, ginger, jalapeño, lemon juice and zest, dill, oil, turmeric, fish sauce, and sugar.
  2. Add the fish fillets to the bowl and submerge completely in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight. 

Nuoc Cham

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, garlic, sambal, ginger, and 1½ cups water. The nuoc cham will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. 

Pickled Red Onion

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the warm water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and star anise. Add the onions, and let sit overnight. The pickled onions will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

To Prepare Dish

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rice noodles and cook according to the package instructions. Drain well and place in a large bowl. Toss with ¾ cup of the reserved nuoc cham and let cool to room temp.
  3. Remove the fish fillets from the marinade, letting any excess drip away, and place the fillets on a baking sheet. Roast for 14 to 18 minutes, until cooked through.
  4. Divide the noodles among four bowls. Top with the shredded cabbage and lettuce, dividing them equally among the bowls. Place one fish fillet in each bowl, and top each with 1 tablespoon of pickled red onions. Divide the peanuts, torn dill, and scallions among the bowls and serve.

Chris Shepherd

Chris Shepherd is owner of the acclaimed restaurant group Underbelly Hospitality. His award-winning concepts within the culinary brand include Georgia James, The Hay Merchant, One Fifth Houston, UB Preserv, Blacksmith (owned jointly with Greenway Coffee), and the nonprofit group Southern Smoke. Each of his restaurants is currently open for dine-in or takeout.

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