Canh Chua Ca – Sour Soup with Fish

One of my “goals” for the year of 2013 was to learn how to cook Vietnamese dishes. Pretty sad that I am 27 and don’t really know how to cook any of my mom’s food nor did I care to before and I love to cook!

However, after my travels this year, I wanted to learn more about my culture and whip up some “Vietnamese” dishes for my friends so that I can get some oohhs and ahhs.

I’m always in some kind of challenge and for this month, my sister and I decided to be a pescetarian for a month. It’s officially a week today and it feels great! My friend Sundy had posted a picture of her mom’s sweet and sour soup with fish and it got me craving for my mom’s “Canh Chua” Sour Soup. Great time to learn during my challenge!

Canh Chua Ca – Sour Soup with Fish

The best thing about this recipe is that it is very versatile and you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand and increase the level of sweetness or sour to your liking.


Canh Chua

  • 3lb Catfish – chopped into filets – keeping the head and tail
  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves minced
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • 4 Green Onion Stalks
  • 1 ½ TBSP Tamarind – (didn’t have fresh tamarind on hand, used a tamarind soup base mix)
  • A handful of Green Sprouts
  • 3-4 Tomatoes – chopped divided
  • 1-2 c Bean sprouts
  • 1c Celery – chopped (we usually use okra pods)
  • 1 ½c Mushrooms sliced
  • 1 cup of Pineapple diced
  • TBSP of Sugar
  • 1 Chili Pepper

This will make about 3-4 quarts of soup.


On medium heat – add the oil, garlic, and tomatoes. Sauté until it is fragrant.

Fill the pot ¾ full with water and turn up the heat to let the water boil

Meanwhile, in a mortar, smash the chili pepper, sugar, tamarind, salt, pepper, and green onion stalks and add to the soup

Once the water is boiling, add the catfish, rest of the tomatoes, celery, mushrooms, and pineapples. The water should stop boiling at this point


It takes about 10 minutes for the water to re-boil again and the fish should be done by this time. Turn the heat off, and add the bean sprouts and green sprouts. Viola! It’s done. You can eat it over rice or alone 🙂 I had it over quinoa.

Canh Chua Ca


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