Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Vietnamese Hot and Sour Soup

Here's one of my very favourite soups.  I pack it full of as many veggies as I can.  I use pork or chicken instead of the fish, cause I don't like fish.  I leave out the fish sauce cause the MSG in it makes me feel sick.  Instead of 2 fresh tomatoes I put in a whole can of diced tomatoes including the juice.  I never put in taro, cause I don't usually don't have it handy.  Instead I throw in some celery.  Don't have rice paddy herb?  I put in fresh cilantro.

For the tamarind paste, you can't substitute.  This a must.  You can get it at most Asian grocery stores.  Often in the soup section.  My favourite brand is the Knorr one.  You won't find this in the Knorr section of your regular grocery store. 

Use fresh pineapple.  It is the best.  Canned can be substituted.  But I only make this soup when fresh pineapples are on sale.

I like to pack this soup full of veggies, extra okra and bean sprouts.  I will put in mushrooms too.  And bok choy if I have it.


  • 1 small catfish cut into 1 inch steaks or 1 lb of catfish filets
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, bruised and cut down into 3 inch lengths
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup of pineapple chunks
  • 8-12 okra, sliced into ½ inch segments
  • 2 stalks of taro stem (bac ha), peeled and sliced on a bias into 1 inch thick pieces
  • Big handful of bean sprouts
  • 3-4 sprigs of rice paddy herb (ngo om), chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Thai chili, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of tamarind paste
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar, adjust if necessary
  • fish sauce to taste
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
  • Fried shallots
  1. Heat up a tablespoon of cooking oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the lemongrass, shallot, garlic, Thai chili and tamarind paste and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the catfish and brown for a couple of minutes. Remove the catfish and set aside. The catfish does not need to be fully cooked through at this point.
  2. Pour in the water over the sautéed ingredients. Add tomatoes and pineapple and bring to a boil. Simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the catfish back in as well as the okra. Season with fish sauce and sugar to taste and continue to simmer for 3 minutes. Skim off the foam as it develops.
  4. Once the catfish is fully cooked, add in the taro stem and bean sprouts and turn off the heat. The residual heat will be enough to cook them.
  5. Top with rice paddy herb and a sprinkle of fried shallots and serve immediately.
Thanks to The Seasoned Wok for the recipe.

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