This is a simplified but still flavorful version of my mom's Vietnamese Sweet and Sour soup and can be ready in under 30 minutes. Pineapple is used to sweeten the broth and lemons are used for the sour element. Easy and fast to prepare.
2large leaves of culantro(aka recao or ngo gai) whole or halved (optional)
salt, to taste
hot pepper(1 teaspoon sambal or 1 whole thai bird chili), optional
scallions and cilantro for garnish
Bring water or chicken stock* to a boil.
Add tomato, pineapple juice and pineapple chunks and reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes.
Add shrimp, optional chili, lemon, sugar, and fish sauce 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.
*I don't like the taste of commercial chicken stock nor chicken stock cubes and I find that simmering 4 chicken drumsticks (preferable de-skinned) for about 20 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients will make a much more flavorful soup than just using water. Just remove the chicken when the soup is ready to be served or debone it and add the meat back into the soup.1. Other ingredients that I sometimes add are salmon fillets and diced soft tofu. I throw them in at the last 10 minutes of cooking.2. This soup is great on its own but it is also traditionally served over white rice or over rice noodles for a complete meal.