Fish and pineapple sour soup

Fish and pineapple sour soup

Leanne Kitchen

Known as canh chua ca, which translates as ‘sour fish soup’, this dish originates from the Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnam and Cambodia. The soup requires the right Southeast Asian flavour notes – hot, sweet, sour and salty, which you can adjust to suit your own taste. Snapper, barramundi, blue eye cod or salmon would all work equally well here. For a vegetarian option you can use tofu and vegetable stock.


Quantity Ingredient
60g tamarind pulp
250ml water, boiling
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large lemongrass stems, thinly sliced, white part only
5 slices fresh galangal
45g palm sugar, shaved
1.5 litres fish stock or water
1/2 ripe, sweet pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1.5 cm pieces
60ml fish sauce
2 red bird’s eye chillies, halved lengthways, plus extra to serve
3 ripe, firm tomatoes, cut into wedges
4 chinese celery stalks, cut into 2.5 cm lengths, leaves reserved for garnish
200g okra, trimmed and sliced lengthways
600g skin-on, firm white-fleshed fish, pin bones removed, cut into 2.5 cm pieces
200g mung bean sprouts
handful rice paddy herb, coarsely sliced, (optional)
handful saw-tooth coriander, coarsely sliced, (optional)
ground white pepper
thai basil, to serve
lime cheeks, to serve


  1. Combine the tamarind pulp with the boiling water in a bowl and stand for 20 minutes. Strain the mixture through a sieve, using your fingers to press down on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the garlic in the oil, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until it starts to turn golden. Add the lemongrass and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Add the galangal, sugar, stock and tamarind liquid and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium–low and cook, covered, for 5 minutes to allow the flavours to develop and the sugar to dissolve. Add the pineapple, fish sauce, chilli, tomato, celery and okra and cook for 2–3 minutes or until the celery and okra start to soften. Add the fish and mung bean sprouts and cook for 3–4 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through. Stir in the herbs, if using, and season to taste with salt and ground white pepper.
  3. Serve the soup in large bowls, garnish with Thai basil, with the lime cheeks and the extra sliced chillies on the side.
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