Vietnamese sweet and sour soup (Canh chua) is my definition of a perfect dish. This delicacy from the Mekong Delta region is full of flavors and has a beautiful presentation with bright colors throughout.
A multitude of vegetables and herbs give the soup an irresistible aroma and diverse texture while the fish is cooked to perfection. Sweet, spicy, sour, and savory, it’s a feast for both the eyes and tongue.
In today’s post, let’s learn the easiest way to make this scrumptious soup at home!
What Is Vietnamese Sweet And Sour Soup
“Canh” (soup) is a unique aspect of Vietnamese cuisine. Unlike the soup in Western culinary culture, which usually plays the role of an appetizer, Canh is typically served after the main dishes. Some Canh, such as the one in today’s recipe, is also filling enough to be the main course.
Canh chua, literally “sour soup”, is one of the most adored soups in Vietnam. It originated from the Mekong Delta in Southern Vietnam, with many variations across the country. In general, the dish usually contains seafood or pork and a collection of aromatic herbs and veggies.
As the name implies, sweet and sour are the two main flavors of this delicacy. These seemingly contrasting flavors complement each other surprisingly well to create a pleasing mouthfeel. In addition, the colorful vegetables add to the presentation of the dish.
You only need 5 main tools for today’s recipe. The only thing to take note of is that you should prepare 2 knives and 2 chopping boards.
- Pot: You’ll only need 1 pot for the whole cooking process.
- Knives: Use 2 knives, one for the vegetables and one for the fish.
- Chopping boards: Likewise, don’t use the same chopping board for the fish and veggies.
- Tongs: For easy handling of the ingredients.
- Ladle: Use this tool to spoon the hot soup out.
As mentioned above, this soup typically contains 1 or 2 kinds of meat or fish, and the rest are vegetables and herbs.
- Carp: You can also choose other kinds of fish, either freshwater or saltwater, that you like.
- Vegetables: Bean sprouts, okra, tomatoes
- Mushrooms: Add an extra touch of umami flavor to the soup.
- Tamarind: Give the soup its iconic sweet and sour flavor.
- Pineapple: The crunchiness of pineapple makes the soup more diverse in texture. Plus, its sweet-tart taste fits the recipe well.
- Indian taro, dill, culantro (sawleaf), rice paddy herb: Fresh herbs that are added toward the end of the cooking process. You can find them in Asian grocery stores.
- Ginger: Their peppery and spicy flavor is perfect for covering up the fishy taste.
- Galangal: Don’t mistake galangal for ginger, as they have different flavor profiles. Galangal tastes rather citrusy and piney.
- Spices: Fish sauce, soup powder, brown sugar, salt
- Shallot, and garlic: Make the soup more aromatic. You should mince them before adding them to the pot.
- Olive oil: For frying the carp.
Now that you’ve prepared all the necessary ingredients and tools, let’s get to the cooking part!
Step 1: Prepare The Ingredients
Wash the vegetables and leave them to dry.
Wash the carp, then cut across its head and tail and remove the white veins on both sides of the fish’s body. Doing this helps reduce the fishy taste. After that, make diagonal cuts on the 2 sides of the carp.
Chop off the thicker end (stem) of the okra. Cut the Indian taro and pineapple into pieces. Cut the tomatoes into wedges.
Mince the dill, rice paddy herb, and culantro, keeping the dill roots. Slice the ginger and galangal.
Soak the tamarind in warm water to help them soften quicker. Then, gently stir the tamarind with a spoon to extract the juice.
Step 2: Cook The Soup
Add the carp with some slices of garlic and shallots to a pot. Fry the fish until golden on both sides. Set aside. Doing this will improve the carp’s texture and decrease the fishy taste.
Saute the minced shallots and garlic, then add the tomatoes and pineapple and stir-fry them briefly. Next, add the dill roots, ginger, and galangal to the pot and stir well.
Pour in about 1.5 quarts of water and season with fish sauce, brown sugar, soup powder, salt, and tamarind water. Remember to discard the tamarind seeds.
When the soup comes to a boil, add the fish and put the lid on. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes over medium heat.
After 10 to 15 minutes, add the mushrooms and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
Next, put the okra and Indian taro into the pot and cook for 5 minutes.
Then, add the bean sprouts, culantro, rice paddy herb, and dill. Do a quick taste test and season accordingly if needed.
Your delectable Canh chua is now ready for serving!
Step 3: Present The Dish
Be creative with how you arrange your Canh chua. Some people like to place the fish into the soup, while others put the fish on a separate plate next to it. In the end, it’s all up to you!
Level Up Your Canh Chua With These Tips
If you want to level up your sweet and sour soup, check out these handy tips and serving suggestions.
- The soup tastes best when served warm.
- You can enjoy Canh chua on its own or pair it with rice or vermicelli noodles.
- Prepare a bowl of fish sauce added with a few chili slices and lemon juice, and use it as the dipping sauce for the carp.
- Besides carp, you can also use shrimp, pork, or catfish to make this soup.
- Replace water with chicken or vegetable stock for extra flavor.
- Fresh pineapple is the best choice for this recipe, but canned ones are also a viable substitute. Remember to drain them first.
- If you can’t find fresh tamarind, use tamarind soup mix instead.
Canh Chua – A Delightful Dish For Everyone
Canh chua represents the best of Vietnamese cuisine with healthy ingredients and heart-warming deliciousness. Since the cooking process is surprisingly simple and requires no special tool, it is a dish you can easily make at home in less than an hour.
All in all, Vietnamese sweet and sour soup is an outstanding option whenever you feel like making a flavorsome and filling soup for your family. Try this recipe today, and let me know the result in the comment section. If the dish comes out delicious (I know it will), don’t hesitate to like and share this post!
4 servings per container
- Amount Per ServingCalories533
- % Daily Value *
- Total Fat
- Saturated Fat 3.4g 15%
- Cholesterol 165mg 56%
- Sodium 1908mg 80%
- Potassium 1822mg 53%
- Total Carbohydrate
- Dietary Fiber 5.4g 20%
- Sugars 23.6g
- Protein 53.1g 106%
* The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Table of Contents
- What Is Vietnamese Sweet And Sour Soup
- Level Up Your Canh Chua With These Tips
- Canh Chua – A Delightful Dish For Everyone
- Vietnamese Sweet And Sour Soup (Canh Chua)
- Nutrition Facts