Saturday, September 13, 2008
Vietnamese Sour Soup - Canh Chua
This is hands down my favourite kind of soup. Lots of flavour, lots of veggies, lots of crunch and pretty healthy! What more could you ask for? I also find it refreshing, yet comforting all at the same time. Somewhat a feat for a soup if you ask me!
I must admit that I don't really make it from scratch because the soup base packages or cubes that you can get at the local Asian grocery store are pretty darn tasty and since tamarinds aren't really locally available here in New England, I don't really want to go through all that effort. I guess I could get the tamarind paste and play around with that, but I guess I'm too lazy.
One of my favourite parts of this soup is being able to use this weird vegetable that's hard to describe. In Vietnamese, it is called 'Bac Ha' and in English it is referred to by many names -- taro stem, elephant ear. See here for a much better explanation than I can give. My favourite part about putting this veggie in this soup is that the little holes take up a bunch of the soup broth so then when you crunch into a piece there is sour soup flavour explosion in your mouth! Careful if it's hot though!
I made mine with catfish, bean sprouts, tomatoes and sprinkled some fresh chopped cilantro and Thai basil on top. I think that traditionally this soup is eaten over white rice, but I had run out, so it was vermicelli noodles this time. Some people also like to eat it with pineapple, but I think canned pineapple leaves something to be desired and didn't have any fresh pineapple on hand, so left that out this time. Still tasted great!