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Vietnamese Sweet & Sour Fish Soup

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Whenever my mother-in-law visits, she usually asks what my wife and I would like her to cook. My wife's response usually includes this soup. Canh chua (pronounced like "con chew-ah") is yin to the yang that is ca kho (pronounced like "ka caw"), whose recipe you can find here.

The reason these two dishes are typically cooked and served together is that both incorporate fresh catfish, which is usually purchased live and, therefore, needs to be cooked promptly in its entirety. The soup uses the fish's head and tail, whereas the stew uses the meatier portions of the midsection.

The recipe, after the jump.

Vietnamese Sweet & Sour Fish Soup

  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1-½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoon fish sauce
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 ounces of tamarind, peeled with seeds removed
  • ¾ pound catfish
  • 1 cup of pineapple chunks
  • ½ pound of okra cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ ripe tomatoes cut into wedges
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1. In a small saucepan, bring ½ cup of water to a boil. Add the tamarind and let boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Using a fork, break up the tamarind as much as possible against the side of the saucepan. Pour the liquid through a sieve into a bowl and set aside.

    2. In a large pot, heat the oil until hot. Add the onions and sauté until fragrant, about four minutes. Add salt, sugar, fish sauce, remaining water and the tamarind liquid. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer.

    3. Add the catfish and pineapples and simmer for five minutes. Add the okra and simmer for another two minutes. Add the tomatoes and cumin and stir until blended. Let it return to a simmer and remove from heat immediately. Serve with rice and ca kho.

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