Sweet & Sour Catfish Soup (Canh Chua Ca)

Sweet & Sour Catfish Soup (Canh Chua Ca)

Sweet & Sour Catfish Soup, aka Canh Chua Ca, is a traditional Southern-style Vietnamese soup. It's the perfect combination of sweet, spicy and sour and is super fragrant because of the special Vietnamese herbs. Serve with a bowl of white jasmine rice and enjoy!


Serves 4-5 Hungry Piggies


  1. Start off by boiling two pots of water, one for the soup base (10 cups) and the other for the bean sprouts and cat fish steak.
  2. In the soup pot, dissolve the Fresh Tamarind Paste in a strainer to filter out the seeds. Once fully dissolved, discard the seeds.
  3. Season the tamarind broth with fish sauce and sugar.


  1. Wash and chop all the vegetables (tomatoes, Vietnamese herbs, elephant ear stalk, celery (if using)). No need to chop bean sprouts (clean and pluck off any black or brown bean sprouts).

  2. Blanch the washed bean sprouts for 10 seconds. Using the same hot pot of water that you blanched the bean sprouts with, cook the Cat Fish Steak for 5-7 minutes (depends on the size and thickness); cooking the fish separately from the broth to prevent fishy smell in the broth.

  3. When ready to serve, put the fried tofu in tamarind broth. Squeeze the tofu with a spatula or fork and soak for 15-20 minutes on medium heat (this allows the tofu to absorb all the delicious broth).


  1. Add the pineapple, okra, celery and tomatoes and soak for 5 minutes on low heat. Add the cooked fish in and immediately turn off the heat and add Rice Paddy Herb, Culantro, Elephant Ear Stalk (don't let the heat over cook these!), and Bean Sprout. Add thai chili to make it spicy and enhance the flavors.

When eating, take out cooked fish and dip fish meat with plain fish sauce with thai chili.

  1. Enjoy!!

Soup Base Ingredients:

  • 10 cups of water
  • 1/4 Pack of Fresh Tamarind Paste (4 oz); scroll down to see product image
  • 8 tbsp Sugar
  • 5 tbsp Fish Sauce (Pho Quoc)
  • 10 oz Pineapple, diced
  • 4 Roma Tomatoes, wedged
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • 2-3 lb Cat Fish Steak
  • 12 oz Fried Tofu
  • 2 oz Rice Paddy Herb (Ngo Om), chopped in half; scroll down to see product image
  • 2 oz Culantro (Ngo Gai), chopped in half; scroll down to see product image
  • Okra
  • 5 oz Elephant Ear Stalk (Bac Ha), sliced
  • 2-3 Thai chili, chopped (add more if you want it to be more spicy)

Optional Toppings:

  • Lime (if not sour enough)
  • Celery, chopped
  • Bean Sprout, washed

Fish Sauce:

  • Plain Fish Sauce (Pho Quoc)
  • Pinch of Sugar
  • Thai Chili, chopped

Product Images

Tamarind Paste

Rice Paddy Herb (left) and Culantro (right)