This is a dish that my mum cooked all through my childhood. I was extremely homesick when I moved to Sydney after university and craving some of mama’s cooking. I asked her if it was hard to make and she said, “No! It’s so easy.”
It’s a well known dish for Vietnamese families. It has the right balance of salt, sweet and sour. This is my quick, easy and basic version but I cook it for friend and it’s now become somewhat of my signature dish (there are more elaborate varieties and methods to this dish).
Canh Chua (Vietnamese sweet and sour soup with fish)
Serves 4-6 (depending on how hungry you are)
- 3 litres water
- 150g tamarind pulp
- 4 tablespoons Fish sauce (more or less to suit your tastebuds)
- 3 tablespoons sugar (more or less to suit your tastebuds)
- 2 barramundi fillets
- 2 small tomatoes- chunky wedges
- 4 celery stalks – thickly sliced
- 6 Pineapple slices and quarter
- 6 Okra pods – sliced diagonally
- Rice vermicelli
- Fresh chilli – sliced
- Herbs: Vietnamese mint or normal mint & coriander
- Fried shallots (optional)
- Place the tamarind pulp in 3 litres of water and boil.
- While stock is cooking, prepare the rice vermicelli according to packet instructions.
- Back to the stock, once the water starts to turn a shade of brown, lower heat and let it simmer for a little bit longer. The water should taste sour.
- The tamarind should be soggy and all the flavour should be in the water.
- Strain stock so it’s clean and without all the tamarind seeds and gunk.
- Place clean stock on medium heat and add fish sauce and sugar.
- The taste should be sour, sweet and slightly salty.
- If it’s not sweet enough, don’t worry, the pineapple will sweeten it up more. If you need it to be salty, add more fish sauce or sour, add lemon juice.
- Add okra, celery first to cook for a bit in the stock, then the pineapple and tomatoes.
- Then add the barramundi fillets and keep boiling on medium heat until the fish is cooked through.
- Place noodles in bowls and scoop stock, making sure you get a variety of ingredients and a chunk of the barramundi.
- Garnish with sliced chilli and herbs and serve.