Vietnamese Sweet & Sour Fish Soup

This sweet and sour fish soup is considered a Vietnamese comfort food. It is a combination of sweetness from sugar, sour flavor from tamarinds, and savory flavors from the fish steaks. The herbs used in this recipe add freshness to the soup. This soup is a perfect match for steamed rice, and fish sauce and chili dip.

This recipe takes about 20 to 30 minutes to make. Serves 3 to 4.


• 4 catfish steaks
• Salt
• Pepper
• Chili powder
• Chicken stock
• 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
• 2 tbsp of garlic
• 1 tomato


• 1.5 liters of water
• 1 tbsp of tamarind pulp
• 4 tbsp of sugar
• 4 tbsp of fish sauce
• 1/4 of a pineapple, cut into thin slices
• 1 to 2 medium tomatoes, chopped into wedges
• 6 okra (lady’s fingers), cut diagonally
• 1 elephant ear stem (taro stem), cut diagonally
• 1 cup of bean sprouts
• Half a cup of rice paddy herbs
• 1 to 2 sprigs of sawtooth herb
• 2 spring onions, chopped


In a pan, fry minced garlic in a little bit of oil. Set aside to cool.
Season the fish steaks with salt, pepper, chili powder, and chicken stock. Rub the seasoning on the steaks and set aside for 15 minutes.
Peel the elephant ear stem before cutting diagonally into thin slices.
Cut tomato in half and then into wedges. Remove the core.
Slice off the pineapple core before cutting into thin slices.
Remove the stem of the okra and slice diagonally.
Chop sawtooth herb and rice paddy herb finely.
Prepare the tamarind paste by cooking it with water in a small saucepan.
Once melted, use a sieve to separate the pulp from the juice. Set aside.
In the same pan where you cooked the garlic, add some tomatoes and water.
Sprinkle sugar and fish sauce to the soup, and add the tamarind soup.
Bring to a boil and then add your fish steaks. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes on medium-high heat.
Remove the fish steaks from the pot, and add the vegetables to the soup. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the bean sprouts.
Taste the soup and add seasonings based on your preference.
Add the fish steaks and herbs into the soup and cook for another minute.
Garnish with fried garlic, chopped red chillies, and spring onions.

Ideas And Tips:

• Most of the ingredients in this recipe are local to Vietnamese cuisine. You may not be able to find all the ingredients if you are living outside of Asia. For the sawtooth herb, you may substitute with spring onions. However, there is no known substitute for rice paddy herb. You may want to check your local Asian markets for this ingredient.

• Elephant-ear stem, from the plant Colocasia, is a flowering plant native in Southeast Asia and India. Their root crop is commonly known as taro, which resembles a potato. The leaves and stems are often added in soups.

Vietnamese Sweet & Sour Fish Soup
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