Simple Canh Chua Recipes (Vegetarian & Meat Options)

Written by Luisa Davis on . Posted in food

Canh Chua is a Vietnamese name that refers to Vietnamese sour soup. It also goes by the name ca nau which refers to cooked fish. This delicacy comes from the southern part of Vietnam in the Mekong Delta Region. People make it from the fish which they get from the delta and they add ingredients such as tomatoes, pineapple and bean sprouts into the mix to add flavor to the soup. Other than these, people also use other native vegetables such as doc mung in its making.

The broth used to make the soup has lots of tamarind for flavoring. There are many ways in which you can garnish this soup and the most common forms include the use of chopped scallions, caramelized garlic, and limnophila aromatica. You can also use other herbs as you wish, depending on what you like.

There are many ways in which you can enjoy Vietnamese Canh Chua. While some people like having it alone, others wish to enjoy it with white rice while others prefer to have rice vermicelli alongside the soup. There are many variations to this recipe regarding what one can substitute, and common derivations from the same include the use of spare ribs, prawns, quail eggs, fish cakes, and squid.

It all comes down to one’s preferences.

The sour taste that people enjoy in the soup mostly comes from tamarind so be sure to use lots of this. You mix the tamarind with some hot water and then you stir the mixture to get most of the flavor. From here, you sieve the blend to get rid of all the solids before adding the liquid part to the soup. And just like that, you have a crucial ingredient for your Canh Chua. If you use a hot pot in your cooking, then your Canh Chua goes by the name lau Canh Chua. Check out the variations that we have on Vietnamese catfish soup.

Canh Chua me

This variation makes use of tamarind as explained above and it covers most of the Canh Chua recipes that you will come across. The Canh Chua me dat uses water mimosa in its preparations and the results will have you itching for another bowl of soup.

Canh Chua ca

This variety makes use of fish and the name of each variation depends on the type of fish as well as the body part in use. Have a look. The Canh Chua dau ca modification refers to soup made using fish heads and it is quite a favorite meal in Vietnam. When one uses snakehead fish in their soup, it goes by the name Canh Chua ca loc and where pangasius krempfi catfish are in play, the resultant soup goes by Canh Chua ca bong lau.

The other kinds of catfish that you are likely to come across in these delicacies are the hemibagrus, plotosus and airbreathing and the resultant soups go by Canh Chua ca lang, ngat, and tre respectively. These soups are also quite popular in Vietnam as well as other regions with a high Asian population. Other fish in play include the mud carp, the mudskipper, the eel, and the salmon, going by names such as Canh Chua ca hoi and the likes.

Canh Chua tom

This variation refers to soups made using of shrimp and the main ingredients you will find in play in this regard are shrimp, pineapple and water spinach.

Canh Chua ga

Chicken lovers love this variation as it calls for their favorite meat.

The Canh Chua rau muong calls for water spinach while the Canh Chua chay calls for vegetarian options. As you can see, there is no deficit in the variations that you can make with this meal and this feature makes it all the more exciting. I have featured a few simple recipes that will help you get the most out of this delicacy.

Canh Chua recipe

In this recipe, you will find that most of the traditional processes are still in play such as a broth flavored with tamarind and full of chili. However, as opposed to using fish, I opted to make use of plants to make the recipe friendly to vegetarians. Worry not as the pineapples and rice noodles will more than make up for the lack of meat.

At a glance

This recipe can serve two people and you will take up to thirty-five minutes preparing and cooking the soup. It comprises 660 calories, 88 grams of proteins, 27 grams of fat and 21 grams of protein. If you are allergic to soy, it is essential that you make some substitutions to some of the listed ingredients. That said, enjoy the process!

Ingredients

Here is what you will need to make this meal:

  • One shallot
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • Four ounces of Swiss chard
  • Six ounces of pineapple
  • One package of tofu
  • One Thai Chile
  • One tablespoon of red miso paste
  • Two tablespoons of tamari
  • Two teaspoons of tamarind paste
  • Five ounces of rice noodles
  • One lime
  • Fresh basil
  • Three tablespoons of vegetable oil

Directions

The first thing you should do is to prepare the ingredients by washing and having them within reach. From here, you can go ahead and bring a large pot of salted water to boil over medium heat which you will use for the rice noodles. Once the water is boiling, be sure to reduce the heat.

Next, peel and cut up the shallot into thin slices before mincing two cloves of garlic. You should also cut up the Swiss chard stems and leaves. While doing so, you need not be very particular as roughly cut chunks will do. As for the pineapple, you want to achieve small sizes so be sure to pay attention to the process while cutting them as aesthetics will come into play later.

From here, drain the tofu and commence to cut it into cubes before slicing the Thai chile into thin pieces.

Place a saucepan over medium to high heat and add two tablespoons of vegetable oil to it. Wait for the oil to cook until it becomes hot before you add the sliced shallots. Allow them to cook and keep stirring to ensure that the pieces do not burn. You will know that they are ready once they turn to a lovely golden brown shade and the sides become crispy.

This process should take about five minutes. Once they are ready, transfer them to a plate lined with a paper towel to enable them to get rid of the excess oil. Sprinkle them with salt and leave them be as you head on to the next stage.

The broth is the critical component in the making of the soup and it is thus essential that you get it right. Use the same saucepan that you used to cook the shallots and place it on medium heat. Add one tablespoon of vegetable oil to the already remaining oil from the frying. In the pan, add the minced garlic as well as the red miso paste and allow them to cook for one minute. All this time, you should be stirring the ingredients regularly to ensure that they do not stick to the sides.

Once a minute has passed, add the tamarind paste and the tamari and mix them to ensure that they incorporate. From here, you can add two and a half cups of water as well as a quarter teaspoon of salt into the mixture. Allow the broth to come to a boil.

At this stage, you can now add the rice noodles to the boiling water. Let them cook for four to five minutes before draining them and giving them a cold rinse to put an end to their cooking. The thing with noodles though is that you need to be ready to take them out when they are ready, lest their hypoglycemic index will go up and you will take in more calories than stated, so be sure to keep this in mind.

To the boiling broth, add the swiss chard, tofu, and pineapple and allow for the mixture to come to a boil. You can now lower the heat to a point where the mixture bubbles at a steady rate. Keep your eye on the pot such that the ingredients are hot but not broken down. This stage should take up about three minutes. For good measure, taste the broth and add some seasonings where need be. Be sure not to let the broth boil for too long.

You can now serve the Canh Chua.

Start by cutting the lime into halves and adding juice from one half to the soup to add more flavor to it. For the remaining half, cut it into wedges. Divide the noodles between the bowls before topping up with the hot soup. Using your hands, chop up the basil leaves and spread them on top of the broth alongside the shallots, lime wedges, sliced chile, and basil. Enjoy!

Canh Chua ca recipe

If you are more inclined towards enjoying some fish, then this recipe will please you. It takes about fifteen minutes to prepare the ingredients and twenty to do the cooking. As such, you will be done in thirty-five minutes, as is the case with the previous recipe. You can serve up to four people with this meal.

Canh Chua ingredients

  • 500 grams of catfish steak
  • 1 pinch each of the following: chicken stock, pepper, salt, and chili powder
  • Two tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • Two tablespoons of minced garlic
  • One sliced red chili pepper
  • One chopped tomato
  • Seven cups of water
  • Two tablespoons of tamarind pulps
  • Four tablespoons of sugar
  • Four tablespoons of fish sauce
  • A quarter of a pineapple
  • Two wedged tomatoes
  • Six sliced okra
  • One elephant ear stem
  • Fifty grams of bean sprout
  • One bunch of chopped rice paddy herbs
  • Two sprigs of spring onion and sawtooth herb

Directions

Start by preparing all the ingredients and having them within reach as this will enable you to save time during the preparation and cooking process.

Start by seasoning the steaks with the chicken stock, chili, salt, and pepper. Do this by gently rubbing the ingredients on both sides of the steaks and be sure to cover all parts of the fish.

Place a pot over medium heat and add some vegetable oil. Wait until the oil is hot before adding the minced garlic. Wait for it to turn golden brown before you transfer it to another bowl. You will use this garlic for garnishing later and you can set it aside for now. When removing the garlic, be sure to leave some in the pot.

Add the diced tomatoes and let them cook for a minute. The importance of this step is to add some color to the broth. If this does not interest you, you can move straight to adding water to the fried garlic and bringing the mixture to a boil.

Use a separate pan to cook the tamarind pulp. For this, you will need one cup of water and some tamarind chunks. Let the pulp cook for two minutes as you break dow the tamarind. Next, sieve this mixture into a soup pot, ensuring that you get most of the tamarind.

To the soup, add sugar and fish sauce before adding the fish steaks. Let the mixture cook for at least five minutes or till the fish is ready. You can now remove the fish from the soup and add elephant ear stem, tomatoes, okra and pineapple to the mixture. This process should take two minutes and you can then add the bean sprouts.

There are various ways in which you can enhance the taste of the broth such as the use of salt, chicken stock, and fish sauce. I prefer using a teaspoon of salt and one of chicken stock for the perfect balance.

Before you serve the Canh Chua soup, be sure to heat it and add the chopped herbs. It is best to save some for use in garnishing.

These two recipes will help you enjoy Canh Chua, regardless of whether you are a meat lover or a vegetarian. I hope you enjoyed the directions. Thanks!

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Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis is a frelance writer and foodie based in Portland, California. Though raised on her mother's homestyle Italian cooking, she has spent most of the last five years traveling and immersing herself in other countries' cuisines. Her work have been published in various publications, both online and offline.

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