*Straight translation for this soup is: Sour Soup. But, it has sour, sweet, and spicy flavor. Vietnamese food is all about balance, have you heard? Hehe (Skip to the ingredients if you don't want to learn basic).
Basic broth knowledge:
Broth base: Whole fish or fish head.
- Salmon head
- Catfish is yummy
Pineapple: The sweeter the better the taste for the broth. Use this to enhance the sweet and sour taste. Very importance. It makes a different. People may use other sour vegetable, fruit, or tamarind.
*Tamarind: dissolve the block of tamarind with warm water and then boil it to dissolve, strain it, and then use the juice for the broth. I think Pineapple give the broth a more pronounced taste, aka fresh and strong but still gentle like tamarind.
Chili pepper: You can not believe how much more chili can give. If you feel like missing something from the soup. It's probably Chili. The kind they call "Thai chili" fyi.
Fish Sause: Necessary to enhance the sour taste and balance the overall taste.
Sugar: If you taste the soup and it is a bit too sour for you. It's probably too strong for your taste? Try sugar. Sweetness will balance the sour taste.
Vegetable: are forgiving. Usually people use bean sprouts, elephant ear stem, tomatoes, lady finger, and of course pineapple.
The bla bla bla:
Favorite Fish: Salmon or Catfish (I love catfish more because it's sweeter and taste more earthy)
Now if you want the best part of the fish, you have to keep the head and the bone. All of those that people throw away from cutting out the fillet. But hey, I have been choked a few time in my childhood from learning how to properly use my tongue to pick out the bone from my mouth. Skillful eh? You can do it too. Haha just kidding. Just cook the soup with those parts but you don't have to eat it. Just don't tell me k! One more thing, you have to use the skin, just clean it properly.
We Vietnamese are skillful at cleaning the fish skin. Yes we are! (Just let me out of it).
Cleaning agent for fishyyyyy: Salt, vinegar, or flour, and of course WATER.
First: Touch your slimy fish, smirk, and thanks it for the dish. Yike! Now, sprinkle some water, then some salt and brush skin with your hand, back and forth and back. Use a knife, with about 30 degree angle, and scrape it down. Scrape away the slimy skin. Some fish will appear to be whiter. If you are not happy with the result, use a bit of water + vinegar and clean away. It will take off the smelly part.
For flour: dust flour on the skin for 15 minutes, then wash it off. Check if it's cleaned. I have not try this because salt do fine and I don't have to mess with flour.
Flavor with Garlic oil. Heat the oil and fry the garlic until lightly golden brown. (If I don't feel well, I wont put any oil in my soup. So do what you want. It does smell great with a bit of garlic oil drizzle on top.)
Herbs and some vegetable in the recipes.
(top two images are the elephant ear stems)
Ingredients: (no measurement for you, trust your tongue)
Fish: cut into steak or fillet it if you preferred.
Fish Head: can be cut into smaller sizes.
Pineapple: diced thinly, marinade with 1 table tsp Salt and 3Tbls of sugar. Let sit for half an hours to get the juice out.
Tomatoes: cut into cube or fry with oil until it is mashed to give it the red pretty color.
Bean sprouts: use plenty
Elephant ear stem: Use a knife, peal the skin and cut it thinly, diagonally. (see picture)
Lady finger: cut it diagonally, but thicker (dont' cook this too long) (see picture)
Herbs: rice paddy herb, sawtooth herb, Thai basil (not the Italian sweet basil kind) chopped into smaller chunk. (2 handful of herb). (see picture)
Thai red chili: dice diagonally (to taste)
Bring water to boil. Blanch the already cut fish for 20 second. Rince.
In a pot, stir fry some tomatoes with garlic oil until it is mashed (if prefer). Add water, then put fish in and cook the fish until tender with gentle boiling. Take the fish out.
You can add the pineapple and its juice in the soup now or: In a sauce pan, add pineapple slices, no oil needed. Use slow heat stir and cook until when the juice come out and well marinaded in the salt and surgar. Then, transfer to the soup pot.
Boil the soup up. Add some fish sauce and sugar to taste. Add vegetable and let it boil again. add half the herb and cooked fish. Add the pepper and garlic oil on top. Give it a taste one last time and adjust the taste. It should be fresh sweet and sour taste, a hint of spice (to your taste) and smell amazing now.
Bring it off the stove, serve imediately in a bow, add some more fresh herb to garnish.
*Note: you can enhance the sour taste with some tamarind powder or lime juice. Use as much as vegetable as you like.
Serve with rice and other savory dishes. Make fishsauce and slice pepper to serve on the side. It enhance the flavor. Fresh fishsauce is always good in its own way.
We pour the soup to the rice and eat away. But you don't have to. hmm yum!