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Vietnamese sweet and sour soup or canh chua is a famous soup for every occasion at home or at a restaurant. It is usually served with a long braised catfish as part of a dinner menu. The dish consists of fish, tomatoes, pineapple, okra, bean sprouts and tamarind. It is garnished with Vietnamese herb called rice paddy or ngo om. The sour taste of the soup comes from fresh tamarind, usually diluted with water, then added to the soup.
The broth is a combination of sour from tamarind, chicken broth, salty from the fish sauce, and spicy kick of bird eye chili. Feel free to skip the chili if you are not a huge fan.
Variation of fish in this soup.
Some people prepare this sour soup with fish steaks including head, bones. Another style includes cooking with prawns and shrimps. In this easy version, I opted for salmon fillets for a faster, healthier choice. For a vegetarian option, use mushrooms or/or tofu to replace fish.
This soup has many variations of vegetables. The vegetables in this soup are okra, fresh pineapple chunks, bean sprouts, tomatoes and a handful of Vietnamese herbs like rice paddy but culantro can also be used. In my opinion, it’s these veggies that make the soup shine!
Restaurant usually serves this dish with rice and dipping fish sauce.
The result is a bowl of cozy, savory and comforting warmth. This bowl of deliciousness is easy, healthy and only takes 30 minutes from start to finish. Win win!!
Vietnamese Sweet and Sour Soup (canh chua)
A quick, easy and healthy version of Vietnamese sweet and sour soup (canh chua). This soup features salmon filets, plenty of vegetables and herbs, cooked in a flavorful sweet, sour broth. Ready in just 30 minutes.
- 8 oz salmon filets (cut into chunks)
- 3 cups chicken broth (or water) (1)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1/2 tablespoon oil
- 2 tomato (quartered)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon tamarind powder (2)
- 1/2 cup pineapple chunks (fresh is best)
- 6 okra (sliced half)
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- a handful of rice paddy herbs (ngo om)
- 1 thai bird eye chili (optional)
Heat oil in a medium stock pot. Once hot, add garlic and cook until fragrant. Slowly add in broth, bring it to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium. Add in tomatoes, pineapple, okra and cook for 5 minutes until almost soft.
After 5 minutes, add in salmon filets. Season to taste with tamarind, sugar, fish sauce. Simmer until salmon is cooked through, about 3 minutes.
Add in a handful of bean sprouts, rice paddy herbs. Cook for another minute then remove from heat.
Garnish with thai bird eye chili if desired. Serve.
(1) Home made chicken broth is best in this recipe. If using storebought chicken broth, be sure it's less sodium broth.
(2) Tamarind powder is sold at Asian supermarkets. If you can't find it, replace with juice of 1/2 a lemon.