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Easy and Quick Vietnamese Fish Sour Soup Recipe (Canh Chua Ca)

Updated on February 22, 2012
Fish and prawns sour soup (mix canh chua)
Fish and prawns sour soup (mix canh chua) | Source

Canh Chua Ca

Canh Chua Ca or sour fish soup has its origins in Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnam. It is typically made with fish, pineapple, tomatoes and bean sprouts  in a tamarind-flavored broth.

The sour taste of the soup comes from tamarind, which is mixed with a small amount of hot water; the mixture is then stirred for a few moments to release all the essence, and the liquid (minus the tamarind seeds and other solids, which are discarded) is then added to the soup. 

Fixing Canh Chua Ca is easy. You can use fish head or big whole fish to flavor the broth then add a lot of vegetables. Commonly, Vietnamese like to add taro stem (Bac Ha) to their soup but it's not widely available in the regular market. Some oriental grocery stores may carry it. The sour of tamarind is offset by the sweetness of pineapples and tomatoes, softness of  fish flesh is balanced with crunchiness of beansprouts and okra.  This soup is one of my favorite. It's light, full of fiber, low in fat and low in sodium. If you are looking alternative of healthier soup, then consider Canh Chua Ca. Here is my easy to fix  Vietnamese sour fish soup or Chanch Chua Ca. Enjoy!

Basa fillet
Basa fillet

What You Need


1 lbs catfish fillet (basa fish) or red snapper, cut into 1-inch chunks

2 tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

1 onion, thinly sliced

5 1/2 cup water

1/2 cup tamarind juice

2 tbsp fish sauce

8 okrat, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup pineapple chunks

1/2 lbs ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges

1/2 tsp ground cumin

8 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped

2-3 cups bean sprouts

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Basa Fish in the market
Basa Fish in the market | Source

How to Fix

  • Heat oil in a medium saucepan (about 5 quarts) then add onion. Stir and cook it about 4-5 minutes or until soft and aromatic. Add salt, sugar, water, tamarind juice, fish sauce. Bring it to a boil. Lower the heat into a simmer then add fish fillets and pineapple chunks. Continue to simmer for about 5 minutes or until fish and pineapple are tender but not too soft. If you are serving the soup immediately, add okra and cook it about 1-2 minutes. Ten add tomatoes, cumin and bean sprouts. Simmer about 30 minutes then turn off the heat. Taste and add more fish sauce or salt or sugar as your likings. Scoop it out into serving bowl and garnish with cilantro.
  • If you do not serve this soup immediately, turn off the heat when fish and pinepple are tender. When you are going to serve it, reheat the soup into simmer and add okra. Simmer it about 1-2 minutes. Then add tomatoes, cumin and bean sprout. Simmer for 30 seconds and turn off the heat. Serve it in serving bow and garnish with cilantro.


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    • jojokaya profile image

      jojokaya 6 years ago from USA

      thanks..let me know.

    • DaveysRecipeRead profile image

      DaveysRecipeRead 6 years ago

      Sounds quite tasty. I'll try this one on the next invites.