Feelin’ AZN – Canh Chua aka Vietnamese Hot & Sour Soup

Location: Alameda + Oakland, CA

Happy New Year!  I hope you all enjoyed your Holiday season and are all doing great with your Resolutions.  Thanksgiving and Christmas were both spent up in Northern California and it was fun.  It’s a really long drive from San Diego with a 2 year old still going through his terrible twos, though, so I really thought that I would be giving the Bay Area a break for a while… like a whole year while!  A week into the New Year, I received a call that my second cousin passed away, so I flew back up North for the weekend (I guess that’s better than a drive).  We weren’t really close but our families have a really long history together.  It was pretty sad, however, I think everyone was prepared for it. After the viewing, my cousin and I ended up going Ice fishing with my parents at Caples Lake, and I learned a lot about my family’s history that I didn’t know before.

Caples Lake

Speaking of family history – my Mom and Aunts had a really rough life growing up and I am so grateful to have them in my life and for all that I have.  They totally make it hard for me to complain about anything that I go through…. Damn. It’s a really long story to get into, but they should really write a book.  Along with the book about their lives, they really should write a cookbook with all of their recipes.  I talked my Aunt into showing me how to make Canh Chua aka Vietnamese Hot and Sour Soup.  It’s southern Vietnamese sour soup usually made with fish or shrimp and vegetables.  There are different variations, however I like my Aunt’s the best because it’s the most Americanized.  I’m not exactly used to all the different fish sauce flavors, yet, but I’m becoming a little more cultured and expanding my taste horizons.

While up North, I stayed with my Aunt’s family in Alameda, CA.  It’s an island off of Oakland and San Francisco.  I actually lived with there for about 6 months before heading out for college in Santa Barbara, so it’s a very familiar place to me and will always hold a special place in my heart… meeting famous Athletes is always a big plus, too!  A place that I never really ventured out to while living there, was Oakland.  Apparently some areas are going through a gentrification phase – I didn’t see those areas.  We drove into Oakland to get to the nearest Asian grocery store.  Very interesting to say the least….

Once we got all our ingredients together, we got to work….well, my Aunt got to work.  I just watched and took some pictures.  No time to lay anything out nicely, just go go go!  It was like guerrilla cooking for sure.

These are the ingredients to make the soup the way that I like it (if you prefer a more authentic flavor, you can add in a tablespoon of fish sauce, Okra, and Tomatoes). The Elephant Ear will need to be cut into diagonal chunks (about 1 inch thick), the Rice Paddy Herb, Sawtooth Coriander, Garlic, and Chili Pepper will need to be finely minced, and the shrimp needs to be butterflied and deveined (don’t want to be eating that shrimp poo).  It’s really important to have all the ingredients prepped prior to cooking because the process moves pretty quickly.

Tamarind Powder Added to Boiling Water

Now we’re ready to get cooking!  Start by boiling about 8-10 cups of water in a 5 qt stock pot.  Once the water boils, add the Tamarind Powder and stir until blended.  At that point, pour in the Pineapple chunks along with all the juices, and the Chicken Broth. There will be a brown film that floats to the top – Scoop all that madness out and get moving with the rest.

Bean Sprouts Added

Once the broth comes back to a boil, add in the Elephant Ear chunks.  When that comes back to a boil, add the Bean Sprouts.

Chili and Garlic Insfused Oil

While that comes back to a boil, grab a small frying pan and heat up about a tablespoon of Vegetable Oil.  Add the Chili Peppers and Garlic to the hot oil and stir around for about 5 to 10 seconds, then pour all of the oil mix into the broth.

All Ingredients Added

At this point you will add in the shrimp.  Of course, bring it back to a boil again.  Once it starts to boil, add in the rest of the ingredients – Basil, Rice Paddy Herb, and Sawtooth Coriander.  Stir it around and if it tastes too sour, add about 1 to 2 tablespoons of Sugar.  And that’s it!  This can be served over a bowl of rice or on it’s own.

Canh Chua

Thanks for sticking around and I’ll be back soon….Ok maybe a little later but sooner than the last time.

CANH CHUA

8-10 Cups Water
1 package Tamarind Powder
1 8 oz can Pineapple Chunks in 100% Pineapple Juice
1 cup Chicken Broth
2 stalks Elephant Ear (Bac Ha), chopped in 1” diagonal chunks
3 cups Bean Sprouts
1 Tblsp Vegetable Oil
3 Garlics, minced
3 Thai Chili Peppers, minced
1 cup Shrimp, butterflied and deveined
1/2 cup Basil
1/2 cup Rice Paddy Herb (Ngo Om), minced
1/2 cup Sawtooth Coriander (Ngo Gai), minced
1-2 Tblsp Sugar (optional)

-Boil 8-10 cups of water in a 5 qt stock pot.  Once the water boils, add the Tamarind Powder and stir until blended.
-Pour in the Pineapple chunks along with all the juices, and the Chicken Broth. Discard the brown film that floats to to the top.
-Once the broth comes back to a boil, add in the Elephant Ear chunks.  Bring back to a boil.
-Add the Bean Sprouts.  Bring back to a boil.
-In a small frying pan, heat up the Vegetable Oil.
-Add the Chili Peppers and Garlic to the hot oil and stir until fragrant.  About 5 to 10 seconds.
-Pour the oil mixture into the broth.
-Add in the shrimp.  Bring to a boil.
-Add in the Basil, Rice Paddy Herb, and Sawtooth Coriander.  Stir until incorporated.
-Taste the broth and if it’s too sour, add about 1 to 2 tablespoons of Sugar.
-Serve over rice or own it’s own.


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