Vietnamese sweet and sour fish soup

I found I had some pineapple I wanted to use after the holidays. And I started craving for this soup. I simply love it.

When it comes to soup, often here in Scandinavia we think of it as a winter comfort food. But in Southern Vietnam, there are only sunny and rainy seasons. And there are tons of varieties of soups! One example is this sweet and sour fish soup, or Canh Chua in Vietnamese, a very popular soup. It tastes heavenly even when the weather is hot. It has the perfect blend of sweet, sour and spice, with more than three types of fresh herbs which really enhance the flavor.

Ingredients: (3-4 portions)

  • 3 slices of fresh basa or catfish (or take any fish you have and like)
  • 3 fresh hot chilies, seedless, finely chopped
  • 1 elephant ear stem, peeled, sliced ⅓ inch thick (this could be hard to find but try an Asian Market, otherwise use some other vegetable you love instead, like fennel or fuzzy squash: I even love Lotusroot in it and it is also very beautiful.
  • 1 cup okra, sliced ⅓ inch thick
  • 1 cup bean sprouts, washed, drained well
  • 1 tomato, peeled, cut in wedges
  • 1 – 2 key limes, juiced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled, chopped
  • ¼ pineapple, peeled
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • ½ cup rice paddy herb, chopped into 1 inch lengths
  • ¼ cup finely chopped sawtooth coriander
  • ¼ cup finely chopped green onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil


Wash the fish, then use a paper towel to pat the fish slices dry. Rub the fish slices with chili. Sprinkle both sides with salt. Then let them marinate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare other ingredients. Mix tamarind paste with 1 cup of boiling water. Let it sit.

Add oil in a sauce pan. Set over medium heat. When the oil starts to smoke, add garlic. Saute until the garlic smells good and turns light brown, then take the garlic out.

Add 2 cups of water. Hot oil may splash out of the pan, so be careful. Use a sieve to strain off the pulp and seeds only pour the juice of the tamarind paste in the pan. Then add sugar and salt. Cover and bring to a boil.

Place the fish into the boiling pan. Reduce the heat to medium low. Let it simmer for 10 minutes.

Then take the fish out. Cover to keep warm.

Add  pineapple, tomato. Bring to a boil again.

Add fish sauce, lime juice in bit by bit. Taste the soup for a balance of sweet, sour, spicy, and salty flavor. Adjust to your liking. For more depth of flavor, add a little more fish sauce, or more lime juice if it’s too sweet.

Let the soup boil again. Then add okra, and elephant ear stems.

Bring to a boil again. Add the sawtooth coriander, green onion, and cilantro and now you’re done!

Add the fish back into the pan if you don’t eat right away.

Before serving add bean sprouts, don´t cook so they keep crispy, sprinkle with fried garlic.

2 thoughts on “Vietnamese sweet and sour fish soup

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