Vietnamese Fried Ladyfish Patties – Chả Cá Ladyfish Chiên

This is my new and improved recipe for Vietnamese fried ladyfish patties that my little man likes to eat. I didn’t add the chili peppers for his non-spicy version. Chef Ethan enjoyed helping me assembled the ladyfish paste and seasoning ingredients together and smelling the herbs. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as he does.

  • Prep time: 30 minutes (with the ladyfish paste already available)
  • Cook time: 20-30 minutes
  • Servings: 20-25 fried fish patties
  • Notes: I use dehydrated kaffir/makrut lime leaves and crushed it in my hand to get small flakes with the main leaf veins discarded. Don’t use fresh kaffir lime leaves because it has fibrous texture when you bite into the leaves that will ruin the overall taste and texture of this fish patty. (My friend gave me 5 ladyfish and I cleaned and filet it to get me 3 pounds of fish paste for this pictorial. This part took me 2 hours since from start to end with cleaning up my mess.)


  • 3 lb ladyfish paste
  • 5 Tbsp chopped scallions
  • 6 Tbsp mixed minced garlic and shallots
  • 6-8 Tbsp fincely minced lemongrass
  • 6-8 dried Kaffir/makrut lime leaves
  • 5 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp IHA French baking powder
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 7 Tbsp Viet Huong fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon black ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon white ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil (more for frying)
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped chili peppers*

How to Filet a Ladyfish:

Clean, scale, gut, and filet the ladyfish. I used a stainless steel Asian soup spoon to scrape the meat off the skin and bones.  There are a lot of thin bones that reminds me of short white hair that sticks to the skin and vertebrae. When I scrape the flesh off gently with a spoon, the meat comes off easily and the bones would still be intact. The fish flesh scraped off are measured and stored in containers by the pound.


1. Gather, prep, and measure out the ingredients.

2. Pour the ingredients (except for the chili peppers) into the large bowl of ladyfish paste.

3. Wear gloves to mix up the paste until the mixture is well blended. This is when I transfer about one-fourth portion into a smaller bowl reserved for my little chef to enjoy a non-spicy version and add in the finely chopped chili peppers into the large bowl of paste and mix it up again. Vietnamese ladyfish patties are commonly spicy with lots of black pepper or with chili peppers added to it. My friends and I like it spicy versus a non-spicy version. I had about two tablespoons of lemongrass leftover so I added it into the large bowl.

(Cover and store in the fridge for 30 minutes for the baking powder to activate. Mom told me to use French baking powder, it makes any fish paste to have a moist and fluffy texture. This was when she steamed the ladyfish paste for me. I am not sure if it works with frying method.)

4. I poured about 1/4-inch high of vegetable oil into my 14-inch Hexclad pan to get ready to fry the patties.

5. I am not a perfectionist when it comes to scooping the paste into the hot frying pan. I used a large stainless steel serving spoon to scoop out a small chunk or ball of paste and gently placed it into the pan. Then I pressed the paste down using the bottom of the spoon to flatten out the paste to about one-inch thick patties.

6. The fourteen-inch pan fits about 5 patties at a time for me. I fried each side for about 2 to 3 minutes or until it’s golden on both sides. I sometimes use a scissor to cut the thickest piece in halves to make sure if the center is cooked evenly.

7. It’s ready to serve! I think these fish patties are best served when hot. I cut it into small bite size pieces for my little man. Enjoy!

I am determined to document a full pictorial for Vietnamese fish noodle soup (bún chả cá) and I need to make at least three different variations of fish pastes using different fish and different herbal flavoring before I can document the fish broth and assemble the fish noodle soup. These fried ladyfish patties will be sliced into thin strips to add to my bowl of fish noodle soup later on. I’m freezing these patties for future use.

Behind the scene:

Chef Ethan was granted permission for the first time to decorate the backdrop of the food presentation headshot for the collage layout. He is very proud of his work.

I am an Amazon Associate. The following links are Amazon products I used in this pictorial recipe. I earned a small commission if you choose to purchase any products from my recommended links. Thank you.

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