Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
post
Vietnamese Sour Soup

Unlock the Flavor Secret: Vietnamese Sour Soup

Vietnamese sour soup, called “canh chua,” is a staple dish in Vietnamese cuisine because it combines sweet, sour, and savory flavors in a delicious way. It’s sour from tamarind, a bit sweet from pineapple, and savory from fish sauce. Fresh herbs like sawtooth or cilantro, along with vegetables like okra, celery, and tomato, add extra goodness. This soup is both delicious and comforting, representing a great flavor in Vietnamese food. Let’s try to make it today.

Prepping Okra for Your Soup

Getting your okra ready for the soup is pretty straightforward. 

  • Wash the Okra: Give the okra a good rinse under cold water to remove any dirt or impurities.
  • Trim the tough tips: Take a knife and slice off the stem ends of the okra withouting cutting into the seeds.
  • Cut or Leave Whole: Now, you have a choice. You can either leave the okra whole or slice it into rounds, depending on your preference. Slicing it into rounds can help the okra release its natural thickening agent into the soup, which can help make the soup slightly thicker. If you prefer to keep them whole, that’s perfectly fine too.
Cut tough tips of okra

How to make a Vietnamese sour soup

Main Ingredients

  • 4 catfish steaks/salmon
  • Bean sprout (optional)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Pineapple 
  • Orka
  • Celery/Elephant ear stems 

Fish Seasoning

  • Salt 
  • Cayenne powder
  • Black pepper

Broth

  • 6 cups of water
  • ½ tbsp Tom Yum paste
  • ½ tbsp tamarind paste
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp salt (adjust to taste)

Garnishing

  • Culantro and/or paddy herbs
  • Green onions
  • Fried garlic 
  • Red chili

Catfish & Tom Yum Paste

fish
Tomyum paste

Elephant Ear Stems

Peeling elephant ear stem
Chopping elephant ear stem
Broth seasoning
Vegetables

Instructions

  • Marinate the catfish with salt, cayenne powder, and black pepper for 15 minutes.
  • Bring a pod of water to a boil and cook the fish for 10-15 minutes. Set the fish aside.
  • Use the broth you cook the fish to make the soup. In the same pod, add Tom Yum paste, tamarind paste, sugar, and fish sauce. Stir to dissolve everything.
  • Slowly add the vegetable of your choice: sliced tomatoes, pineapple, okra, and celery or elephant ear stems. You can adjust the quantity based on your preferences. 
  • Simmer until the vegetables are cooked to your liking.
  • Add the fish back in and season to taste with salt. 
  • Garnish with chopped culantro, green onions, and especially fried garlic

Notes: Be gentle with the fish, as catfish is very delicate and easy to break apart. This is why we cook them separately. 

fish
season fish
Boil the fish
Remove the fish
Add vegetable to the broth 1
Add vegetable to the broth 2
Add tom yum paste
Add tamarind
Add fish sauce
sugar
Add the fish back in
season the soup

Fried garlic is the secret ingredient to a perfect Vietnamese sour soup

You know what’s the secret to making a perfect Vietnamese sour soup? Fried garlic! Seriously, it’s like the secret ingredient that takes your soup to a whole new level. When you fry garlic until it’s all golden and crispy, it brings out this nutty, aromatic goodness that just makes the soup pop. It’s like the sweet-and-sour party in the soup gets a perfect plus-one. So, don’t skip the fried garlic – it’s the unsung hero that makes your soup taste amazing.

Vietnamese Sour Soup

Why do you want to cook the fish separately?

Fish like catfish or salmon, can be delicate and prone to breaking apart when boiled in a soup for an extended period. Cooking it separately allows you to control the cooking time and temperature, ensuring that the fish remains intact and retains its texture.

Cooking the fish separately and adding them in the end helps the fish stay whole and visually appealing, enhancing the overall presentation of the dish.

To cook the fish without it falling apart, you can grill, pan-fry, or broil it until it’s mostly done, and then add it to the soup towards the end of the cooking process. This way, you get the best of both worlds: well-cooked fish and a flavorful broth.

Vietnamese sour soup

No elephant ear stems? Use celery instead.

Elephant ear stems, also known as “taro stems,” are the edible stems or stalks of the taro plant

If you don’t have elephant ear stems, you can use celery as a substitute in your Vietnamese sour soup. Celery will provide a similar crunch and a mild, fresh flavor to your soup. Simply chop the celery into bite-sized pieces and add it to the soup as a replacement for the elephant ear stems. It will work well and still contribute to the overall texture and taste of the dish.

Don’t have tamarind paste, how do you make the soup sour?  

If you don’t have tamarind paste to make the soup sour, you can use alternative souring agents to get the tangy flavor in your Vietnamese sour soup.

  • Lime or Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice is a great substitute for tamarind paste. Start with a few tablespoons of juice and adjust to your taste, as the level of sourness can vary depending on lime or lemon.
  • Sour Soup Mix: Some stores offer packaged sour soup mix, which is a blend of souring agents like tamarind and other ingredients. You can use this as a convenient alternative.

Remember to add the souring agent gradually and taste the soup as you go to achieve the desired level of sourness. It’s always best to start with a little and adjust as needed, as you can make the soup more sour, but it’s challenging to reduce the sourness if you’ve added too much.

Vietnamese Sour Soup

You’re using catfish, and your Vietnamese sour soup hardens like jelly.

If you’re using catfish in your Vietnamese sour soup and find that the leftover soup hardens like jelly when it cools, it’s likely due to the natural gelatinous properties of catfish. Catfish contain collagen, a protein that can turn the soup into a jelly-like consistency.

Gelatine is a natural characteristic of catfish and can actually enhance the flavor of the soup, so there’s no need to worry if it happens. Your soup will turn to liquid form when reheating.

What are Culantro and rice paddy herbs?

Culantro and rice paddy herbs are two distinct herbs commonly used in various Southeast Asian cuisines, including Vietnamese and Thai.

  1. Culantro

   – Also known as Recao (in Spanish-speaking countries), Sawtooth herb, Mexican coriander, Long coriander, and Ngo gai (in Vietnamese, long coriander often pairs with pho).

   – Culantro has a strong, pungent flavor that is often described as a more robust and spicier version of cilantro. It is used in a wide range of dishes, particularly in Latin American and Southeast Asian cooking. It’s a common ingredient in salsas, soups, and marinades.

Culantro
Culantro
  1. Rice Paddy Herbs

   – Also known as Phak kayang (in Thai), Rau om (in Vietnamese), and Lao coriander.

   – Rice paddy herbs are aquatic or semi-aquatic herbs with a distinct, refreshing aroma and flavor. They are often used in soups and as a garnish in Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. The leaves are slender and delicate, with a unique flavor profile that adds a bright and herby note to dishes.

Rice Paddy Herbs

Do you need these herbs for garnishing?

It’s not necessary if you don’t have these herbs at hand, I know these types of herbs might be hard to find. Using them for garnishing does add authentic flavor to the Vietnamese sour soup, but you can certainly use cilantro and green onions to substitute. 

No catfish? You can use salmon for the soup

Vietnamese people typically use catfish steak because it’s relatively affordable in Vietnam. 

But, you can substitute catfish with salmon in a canh chua recipe if you prefer or if catfish is not readily available. While catfish is the traditional choice, salmon can work as an alternative, but there are a few things to keep in mind:

Flavor: Catfish has a milder flavor compared to salmon, which has a richer and oilier taste. This substitution will result in a slightly different flavor profile, but it can still be delicious.

Texture: Catfish has a moist and delicate texture, while salmon is flakier.

Personal Taste: Consider your personal preference for the fish. If you enjoy the taste of salmon and don’t mind the slight variations in texture and flavor, using salmon can be a great choice.

Vietnamese Sour Soup

Vietnamese Sour Soup

Vietnamese sour soup, called "canh chua," is a staple dish in Vietnamese cuisine because it combines sweet, sour, and savory flavors in a delicious way. It's sour from tamarind, a bit sweet from pineapple, and savory from fish sauce. Fresh herbs like sawtooth or cilantro, along with vegetables like okra, celery, and tomato, add extra goodness. This soup is both delicious and comforting, representing a great flavor in Vietnamese food. Let’s try to make it today.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 17 minutes
Course Dinner, Soup
Cuisine Asian, Vietnamese
Servings 3 People

Ingredients
  

Main Ingredients

  • 4 catfish steaks/salmon
  • Bean sprout (optional)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Pineapple
  • Orka
  • Celery/Elephant ear stems

Fish Seasoning

  • Salt
  • Cayenne powder
  • Black pepper

Broth

  • 6 cups of water
  • ½ tbsp Tom Yum paste
  • ½ tbsp tamarind paste
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp salt (adjust to taste)

Garnishing

  • Culantro and/or paddy herbs
  • Green onions
  • Fried garlic
  • Red chili

Instructions
 

  • Marinate the catfish with salt, cayenne powder, and black pepper for 15 minutes.
  • Bring a pod of water to a boil and cook the fish for 10-15 minutes. Set the fish aside.
  • Use the broth you cook the fish to make the soup. In the same pod, add Tom Yum paste, tamarind paste, sugar, and fish sauce. Stir to dissolve everything.
  • Slowly add the vegetable of your choice: sliced tomatoes, pineapple, okra, and celery or elephant ear stems. You can adjust the quantity based on your preferences.
  • Simmer until the vegetables are cooked to your liking.
  • Add the fish back in and season to taste with salt.
  • Garnish with chopped culantro, green onions, and especially fried garlic.

Notes

Notes: Be gentle with the fish, as catfish is very delicate and easy to break apart. This is why we cook them separately.  
fish season fish Boil the fish Remove the fish Add vegetable to the broth 1 Add vegetable to the broth 2 Add tom yum paste Add tamarind Add fish sauce sugar Add the fish back in season the soup
Keyword vietnamese sour soup, vietnamese sour soup recipe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Picture of Sa
Hey, I'm Sa. Welcome to Wikisizzle! I’d like to keep it simple with everyday meals that are easy to make. Hope you find some delightful flavors here. Let’s get cooking.

Let’s connect

Table of Contents