Thank you for all your supportive comments on my last post. I’ve never been one to hold back on what I eat, but posting it on the internet for everyone to see is a whole different story. So thank you to each and every one of you for your honesty and support.
This week I’d like to share one of my favorite soups with you, Vietnamese sweet and sour soup. Let’s get down to business, shall we?
There is an ingredient in this recipe that is quite unfamiliar to many people. In Vietnamese it’s called bac ha. Upon googling bac ha, I found that the English name is known as Elephant Ear. This vegetable is sold in stalks at Asian grocery stores.
The insides are quite spongy looking. When cooked, they absorb a lot of soup and have a slight crunch when bitten into. This is my favorite vegetable in this soup. If you cannot find this, you can easily substitute with celery. Have you tried this vegetable before?
- 2 liters vegetable broth
- 500 ml water
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 3 – 4 stalks bac ha sliced into half inch thick slices
- 1 cup chopped pineapple
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cups king oyster mushrooms sliced into 2 inch lengths
- 2 cups oyster mushrooms separated by the stem
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 4 tbsp fish sauce
- 7 tbsb tamarind pulp (more or less to taste, I like my soup more on the sour side)
- 1 – 2 lbs shrimp (preferably head and shell on)
To prepare tamarind pulp, empty a 227 gram bag of tamarind into a bowl. Add 2/3 cups hot water (not boiling water) to submerge the tamarind for about 15 minutes. Once cooled, squeeze the seeds out of the pulp and press pulp through a fine strainer.
Have all your vegetables washed, cut up and ready to be added into the soup.
Heat up oil in a 9 quarts pot and fry minced garlic until golden brown.
Add vegetable broth and water. Keep heat at high and bring broth to a boil. Once broth boils, add in shrimp. Cook shrimp until they turn pink and have fully curled up. Remove shrimp from the soup so they don’t shrink and set aside for later.
Add in all vegetables and bring soup to a boil.
Once boiling, allow vegetables to continue to cook for another 15 minutes.
When ready to serve, return shrimps back into the soup and boil for another 2 minutes. Serve immediately before shrimp start to shrink.
Note: Use shrimp with heads and shell on for better presentation and flavor in the soup. I ran out and had to use whatever shrimp I had in my freezer.
We ate this with rice, but you can also eat it with vermicelli noodles. The sauce you see on the side is a mixture of 3 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 tablespoon lime juice, and 1 sliced red chili pepper. It is used as a dip to accompany the vegetables and shrimp when eating with rice. If you like spicy soup, you can definitely add chili sauce or red chili peppers. I left those out of this recipe for the sakes of my kiddies. Cut the recipe in half if you’re not planning on feeding more than four people.
My mom makes this soup with fish instead of shrimp and sometimes adds okra. You can even substitute the shrimp with chicken if you don’t like seafood. If you want a vegetarian version, substitute the shrimp with tofu and the fish sauce with soy sauce. This soup is quite versatile and everybody can enjoy it.
I hope you’re all having a wonderful week. Until next time, friends and family :-D.