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Canh Chua Cá Recipe (Vietnamese Sweet and Sour Fish Soup)

A staple at any Vietnamese dinner table, Canh Chua Cá (or Vietnamese Sweet and Sour Fish Soup) is an easy soup made with catfish steaks (or mudfish), elephant ear stems, tomato, okra, and pineapple. It's a dinner that you can make in 30 minutes or less.
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Asian, Vietnamese
Keyword Fish Recipes, Seafood Recipes, Sweet and Sour Fish Soup, Canh Chua
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 people


  • 1 lb catfish steaks (or mudfish steaks)
  • 2 tsp fish sauce

For the Soup

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 cup tamarind concentrate
  • 1 tbsp tamarind soup mix (optional, if you like it more sour)
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) pineapple chunks, drained
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup okra, chopped
  • 1-2 elephant ear stems (taro), thinly sliced diagonally 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 handful rice paddy herb (ngo om), chopped


  • Marinate the catfish steaks (or mudfish steaks) with fish sauce. Set aside while you prepare the vegetables (about 10-15 minutes at room temperature).
  • In a large pot, add oil and saute the minced garlic for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the catfish steaks. Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add water, the tamarind concentrate, fish sauce, sugar, pineapple, and tomatoes. Stir until well-blended. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the remaining vegetables (okra, elephant stems, and bean sprouts.) Bring the soup to a rolling boil. Turn down the heat to medium-low.
  • Taste the soup and adjust the taste to your preference.
    Add tamarind soup mix if you desire a more sour flavor. If too sour, add more sugar. Add more fish sauce to your desired saltiness.
  • Add rice paddy herb, stir into soup. Turn off heat and let rest.
  • To serve, remove the fish steaks onto a plate. Pour nuoc cham (Vietnamese dipping fish sauce) over the fish.
    Spoon the desired amount of Canh Chua Ca and enjoy with rice and the fish.