This is a simplified version of my mom’s Vietnamese Sweet and Sour soup. You can add whatever vegetables and/or meat and seafood you like. Pineapple is used to sweeten the broth and lemons are used for the sour element.
My mom makes a killer Vietnamese Sweet and Sour Soup.
It’s pretty much restaurant quality. Actually, it’s better than restaurant quality. She gave me the recipe a few years a go and I like to make it every once in a while because it’s mm-mm good. Scotch is not a big soup person so he will usually have one small bowl while I finish off the rest of the pot by myself.
I made a small pot today to use up some of the recao (also known as Mexican “culantro” or Vietnamese “ngo gai” or “stinking-herb” or “sawtooth herb” or whatever) that I had bought at the Sunflower Thai market yesterday. Slurping gooooood!
A while back, I was flipping through these two Vietnamese cookbooks and came upon their versions of this soup. Both recipes in each book called for the addition of tamarind pulp. So I thought I’d buy some tamarind and try it out. Another recipe also called for some lemongrass. I had some lemongrass in the freezer, so I tried throwing that in the pot too.
(*Shaking head*) I should never have messed with THE MOM RECIPE.
Why did I even think of straying so far from my mom’s recipe and spoil a good thing? I was hoping I could make what was great even greater but the soup that resulted from the lemongrass and tamarind experiment not only tasted all wrong but made me sick. Real sick, if you know what I mean.
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- 2 quarts water or chicken stock
- 1 large tomato, quartered
- juice from 16 oz can pineapple and 3 pineapple rings cut into chunks
- ¼ package firm tofu
- 6-8 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- juice from ½ lemon (or more if you like it more sour)
- 1-2 Tablespoons sugar
- 5 Tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce (nuc nam)
- handful of okra
- handful of bean sprouts
- 2 large leaves of culantro (aka recao or ngo gai) whole or halved (optional)
- salt, to taste
- hot pepper (1 Tablespoon sambal or 1 whole thai bird chili), optional
- scallions and cilantro for garnish
- Bring water or chicken stock to a boil.
- Add tomato and pineapple and reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add tofu, shrimp, optional chili, lemon, sugar, and nuc nam and simmer 3-5 minutes or until shrimp is cooked.
- Add okra, bean sprouts and recao. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.
- Salt to taste and garnish with scallions and cilantro.