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Sweet and Sour Vietnamese Fish Soup "Canh Chua"
with pineapples / rice

Active: 35 minTotal: 35 min
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Fresh, clean flavors and a balance between sweet and sour characterize this traditional Vietnamese fish soup. Rice adds a bit of substance but feel free to serve it in the same bowl as the soup or on the side.
Smarts: This soup is a great way to use leftover vegetables. Green beans, chopped bell peppers or diced carrots are just a few options that will work. If using a fresh vegetable, saute them with the onions (frozen veg can be added at the end).



Vietnamese Fish Soup:
  • Rice, uncooked white or brown - 3/4 cup
  • Onions, medium - 1/2, thinly sliced
  • Green onions - 2 stalks, chopped, white and green parts separate
  • Limes - 1, wedges
  • Tilapia - 1 lb, 1" / 2.5cm cubes (sub any white fish)
  • Tomatoes, plum or Roma - 2, diced
  • Pineapple, diced fresh or frozen - 3/4 cup
  • Okra, frozen and sliced - 1 cup (sub frozen, diced green beans)
  • Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
  • Cumin - 1/4 tsp
  • Red pepper flakes (opt) - 1/4 tsp
  • Water - 4 cups
  • Tamarind concentrate - 2 Tbsp (find this at an international market or on Amazon)
  • Soy sauce, low-sodium - 1 Tbsp
  • Fish sauce - 2 tsp
  • Sugar - 1 tsp
  • Mung bean sprouts (opt) - 1 cup

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 serving
Servings Per Recipe 4
Amount Per Serving
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% Daily Value
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  1. Make rice - Double if making Wednesday's meal. For white rice, rinse until clear. Fill a saucepan or Dutch oven (or rice cooker) with rice, water (use 2:1 ratio for water to rice) and some salt. Cover with lid and bring to a boil. Once water boils, stir, lower heat to a low-medium and cover. Check white rice after ~20 min; brown at ~45 min. Rice is done when it's absorbed all the water. If it's not done, leave the cover on until all water has been absorbed. Take cover off to release steam and fluff with a wooden spoon after 5 minutes. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  2. Onions / Green onions / Limes - Prep as directed and store separately. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  3. Tilapia / Tomatoes - Prep as directed. Season tilapia lightly with some salt and pepper. Store fish and tomatoes separately. (Can be done 1 day ahead)
  4. Pineapple / Okra - Chop pineapple, if using fresh. If using frozen pineapple and / or okra defrost briefly in the microwave. Drain off any excess liquid.


  1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil and then onions and white parts of green onions. Saute until onions are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add cumin and red pepper flakes (if using) and saute for a minute more.
  2. Add water, tamarind concentrate, soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and add fish. Simmer until fish is cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes.
  3. Stir in pineapple, tomatoes, okra and sprouts. Continue cooking for 1 minute more to let the flavors come together. Add the juice from two of the lime wedges (for 4 servings; adjust if customizing). Taste soup and add additional soy sauce, sugar or lime juice, to taste (the balance between sweet and sour in this soup varies, so be sure to adjust it to your liking!).
  4. If rice was made ahead, reheat in the microwave.
  5. Divide rice between serving bowls and ladle soup over top (you can also just leave the rice on the side if you prefer). Top soup with green parts of green onions and serve with remaining lime wedges on the side. Enjoy!

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This meal has 40 reviews

Just OK the first night, then diminishing marginal returns as left overs.

By: Felice
Posted: May 10, 2017
Diet: Original

Very interesting flavors. I won't eat this all the time but I'm happy to have it in my repertoire!

By: Jenna
Posted: Apr 20, 2017
Diet: Original

I used a tamarind stir fry paste in lieu of actual tamarind paste as I was out. From the other comments below I'm thinking this would be a better option (only difference is stir fry paste has some other spices and salt in there). We bought the fish same day. This soup has such delicate flavors that if you use old fish you will taste it. The key to this recipe is step 3 (balancing the sweet vs sour war). I ended up adding another tsp of braggs aminos and another half lime's juice.

By: Brandon
Posted: Mar 19, 2017
Diet: Paleo

Way better than I was expecting! Wouldn't make it regularly, but nice for something different.

By: Rita
Posted: Mar 14, 2017
Diet: Original

Surprisingly good and super easy.

By: Emily
Posted: Mar 12, 2017
Diet: Gluten-free

Hard to comment because I changed this one so much. Don't like tilapia, cooked pineapple, okra, or sweet and sour recipes in general. Used chard in the soup instead of okra and made wild rice with broth that was delicious in it- the lime at the end is so important and made the pineapple (with lite coconut milk, banana and ginger) into a smoothie.Still, made vegetarian version into a meal and I'm grateful for that!

By: Shawn
Posted: Mar 10, 2017
Diet: Vegetarian