Vietnamese Hot and Sour Soup (or Canh Chua)

My family often makes this Vietnamese and Cambodian Hot and Sour Soup to accompany our rice and stir fry dishes. It's called Canh Chua and I'm thinking it's more Vietnamese than Cambodian just by its name. It involves boiling fish and chicken bones to make a stock, making it sour with tamarind, making it hot with red hot sauce, and then throwing in various vegetables. Very simple and very tasty. My husband is also a big fan of it!

This recipe I'm about to share was something I put together from what I remembered Canh Chua tasted like from my childhood days. My parents didn't really share actual recipes with me since they freestyle cooked everything in the kitchen. If you think I freestyle too much and hack away at the kitchen, you should see them in action! Lol. Not a single thing is written down for them. And yes, both my parents are BIG cooks. Lucky for me I can reverse engineer and recreate dishes pretty easily now. If my parents were to make Canh Chua today, I'm quite certain that it would be different than my recipe but it would still taste very much the same.

ngò gai

This was only half of the bean sprouts I put in my pot:)

Vietnamese Hot and Sour Soup (or Canh Chua)
Serves 6-8


3.5 L of water
several pieces of fish bones
2 pieces of chicken bone (I used pork bones since that was all I had)


2-3 carrots, sliced
4-5 celery sticks, sliced
3/4 cup sliced pineapple (use fresh, if possible)
4 tomatoes, sliced in quarters
lots of bean sprouts (3-4 cups?)
1 cup fish balls (or some white fish or both)


2-3 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tsp sriracha sauce (or much more if you like it hot!)
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 1/2 to 2 tbsp sugar


ngò gai, minced (love this stuff!)
fried garlic and oil

For the stock, boil the water and then add all the clean pieces of fish and meat bones to the pot. I used a piece of salmon bone and then 2 tilapia heads. That's what I had saved in my freezer from previous dishes so I just used that. I would do more fish bones than chicken or meat bones in this soup but it's your call. Simmer the stock for at least 1 hour and then scoop out all the bones and remains from the soup. If there is a lot of meat stuck to the bones, you may want to pick those off and throw them back in the pot. Otherwise, just trash them.

Throw all the vegetables, except the bean sprouts, into the pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer. Add all the seasoning ingredients to the pot. Cover and simmer for another 30 minutes. I like my vegetables soft but if you don't you won't need to simmer as long. Finally add the fish balls, bean sprouts, and fish, if you are using that. Simmer another 5 minutes.

Fry pressed garlic in lots of oil until the garlic is light brown in color. Remove from heat. When serving soup in bowls, top with some ngo gai and some fried garlic and oil. I like to eat this soup as is but you could also add plain noodles like vermicelli to it and serve it like a noodle soup. Enjoy!

If you're making this dish or plan to, I would love your comments! :) 


  1. This stir fry sauce recipe is good for this month because it is cold. I would buy all the ingredients given here and I will try this one tonight. I hope I can do this right and delicious like this one. Thank you for sharing this with us.


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...