vietnamese canh chua sour fish soup recipe

One of my favorite dish to make !  Even though it's a sour fish soup, you can substitute the fish with prawn and it will work just as well.

There are a few ways to make it, the Southern and Northern style.  I found the Southern style a bit more on the sweet side.  Also, in the north we use dill for flavoring and garnishing.

So here's the recipe:

- 8 cups of water (or chicken bone broth (home made not can or carton)
- 3-4 fish fillet (you can also sub. with 1 1/2 lb of prawns, or use whole fish or fish heads)
- 1/2 cup of fresh pineapples, diced, more less to your liking (canned pineappl is ok too)
- 1 cup of bean sprouts (more less to your liking)
- 3-4 stalks of taro stems, peeled and sliced diagonally

Taro stems - sponge like - peel the outer green skin off with the edge of knife

- 3 med. tomatoes, quartered
- 3-4 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 shallot minced
- 1 stalk of lemon grass, smashed
- 1 small chunk of rock sugar or 1/2 table spoon of cane sugar
- 1 of 1 inch square of frozen tamarind pulp or 1/2 table spoon of tamarind powder
- fish sauce

*Additional ingredients:  You can add any of the below ingredients to this soup, more less to your liking, adjust soup broth (add more water) if soup is too thick.
- 1/4 cup baby clams
- 1/4 cup baby shrimps
- 1 tofu cut into small chunks
- baby enoki mushrooms

Flavoring herbs (this is what gives canh chua the flavor):

Thinly slice:
- green onions
- ngo om
- ngo gai
- rau ram

Ngo Om - rice paddy herb - lemony citrus sweet cumin flavor
Ngo Gai - long coriander, thorny coriander, saw -leaf herb - taste close to cilantro

Rau Ram - vietnamese coriander, blade like leaves - peppery flavor

IF you can't find any of the above herbs then use green onions (thinly sliced) and dills (chopped).

Cooking Instructions:

- in a pan, add it a bit of oil, add in 1/2 amount of garlic, stir until fragrant
- add in the quartered tomatoes, stir around 2-3 times, until orange liquid is released, put a aside

- in a heavy pot, add a bit of oil, then add the last 1/2 amount garlic and shallot and stir until fragrant
- add in the fish fillets
- pour in the cooked tomatoes
- put in the smashed lemon grass stalk
- add in the water or broth
- bring pot to boil then turn stove down to medium, to simmer

*then add in any additional ingredients you would like to add
- add in the chunk of rock sugar and tamarind
- add in the bean sprout and taro stem slices

Simmer all for 15-20 minutes, bring back up to boil, season it with fish sauce and you're done !

(I seasoned mine with a table spoon of 3 Crabs brand fish sauce, each brand's sodium content is different so season sparingly)

Spoon the soup into a big bowl, then add in handfuls of the thinly sliced herbs.  If this is your first time eating this, add in a bit of the herbs at a time as it is very pungent in flavor.  Serve with rice.