Bowl of Sour Snakehead Fish Soup
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Snakehead Fish Soup
Vietnam
  -   Canh Chua Ca Loc
Serves
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
6 soup  
***
1-1/2 hrs  
Prep
This type of Sour Fish Soup is very popular in Vietnam, and for good reason, it is unique and delicious. It's usually made with Vietnamese Catfish, but this version uses Snakehead Murrel, a very popular fish in Southeast Asia. While there are some special ingredients, it is an easy soup to make. This recipe can be a main dish soup for four.



1
3
8
1-1/2
1-1/2
1/2
1-1/2
1
1
1
4
3
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3
2
1
1
2
#
T
oz
oz
oz
c
oz

oz
T
c
T
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T
T
T
T
T
Snakehead Fish (1)
Tamarind Pulp (2)
Tomatoes
Bean Sprouts, mung
Okra (3)
Pineapple chunks
Colocasia Stem (4)
Thai Chili (5)
Shallot
Palm Sugar (6)
Water
Fish Sauce (7)
-- Garnish
Mint Leaves
Cilantro Leaves
Ngo Om (9)
Rau Ram (8
Fried Shallots (10)
Prep   -   (1 hr - includes 15 minutes to fillet Snakehead)
  1. Fillet SNAKEHEAD and cut into largish bite size pieces.
  2. Prepare TAMARIND paste as needed (see Note-2).
  3. Scald TOMATOES 1 minute in boiling water. Peel and cut into chunks about 3/4 inches.
  4. Pinch root threads from BEAN SPROUTS. Mix with Tomatoes.
  5. Cut OKRA into 3/4 inch segments.
  6. Cut PINEAPPLE into pieces about 1/4 inch thick and 3/4 inch square. Mix with Okra.
  7. Peel COLOCASIA STEMS with a sharp vegetable peeler and cut into 3/4 inch lengths. Mix with Okra.
  8. Cut SHALLOTS in half lengthwise, slice thin and chop small. Stem CHILI and slice thin crosswise. Mix both with Okra.
  9. Crush PALM SUGAR if needed.
  10. Chop Garnish Herbs (not including Fried Shallots) fairly small. Use as many of these herbs as you can get.
Run   -   (25 min)
  1. In your soup pot, bring Water to a boil. Stir in Snakehead. Bring back to a boil and simmer 5 minutes. Strain, setting the Snakehead aside and returning liquid to the cleaned pot.
  2. Bring Broth to a boil and stir in Pineapple mix. Bring back to a boil and simmer about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in Tomato mix and Tamarind Pulp. Bring to a boil.
  4. Return Snakehead to the pot. Stir in Fish Sauce and Palm Sugar. Bring back to a Simmer for a minute.
  5. Serve hot garnished with Herb mix and Fried Shallots. For buffet service I just stir in the Herb mix and forget about the Fried Shallots - well, most of the time I forget about the fried shallots.
NOTES:
  1. Snakehead Murrel:   [Mud Fish] Weight is for chunks the size you want in your soup. Preferably this will be skin-on. This fish is very popular in southern China and in Southeast Asia, so can often be found in Asian fish markets here in Los Angeles. In Asia it is commonly sold live, but live Snakehead is very illegal in California. For details see our Snakehead page.
  2. Tamarind:   Soaking pulp from a block provides the best flavor. Use 3 T from the block, chop it, add hot water to just cover and let it sit 20 minutes. Force it through a wire strainer until only fibers remain, and scrape the paste off the outside of the strainer. Second best is 3 T from a jar of concentrate. For details and method, see our Tamarind Page.
  3. Okra:   Select medium size or smaller Okras, because larger ones tend to be fibrous.
  4. Colocasia Stem:   [Taro Stem] These are available in most Asian markets, at least around here. Not actually Taro, but closely related. For details see our Colocasia Stems page.
  5. Thai Chili:   One good hot Thai chili should be enough for most people. I have used two, but consider that to be the maximum for this soup, more would distract.
  6. Palm Sugar:   If you don't have this flavorful sugar, use another amber sugar such as Turbinado.
  7. Fish Sauce:   This clear liquid is as essential to Southeast Asian cuisine as it was to Imperial Rome. If your are unfamiliar with it, see our Fish Sauce - Introduction page.
  8. Ngo Om:   [Rice Paddy Herb] This unique herb can be found in the fresh herbs section of markets serving a Southeast Asian community. For details see our Ngo Om page.
  9. Rau Ram:   This is a very popular herb in Southeast Asia, so is easily available in the produce section of Asian markets here in Los Angeles. For details see our Rau Ram page.
  10. Fried Shallots:   This is a really good garnish, but it takes time and attention, and it's only good for a couple of days. I usually settle for just the Ngo Om, but if you want the shallots, see our recipe Fried Shallots.
  11. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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