Pickled bamboo and tamarind seafood soup

Pickled bamboo and tamarind seafood soup

The Food of Vietnam
Alan Benson

Tamarind soup is my all-time favourite Vietnamese soup. My mother used to make it every week for me. It is called ‘Canh chua’ in Vietnamese and has such great balance of flavour — sour from the tamarind, sweet from the pineapple, tart from the tomatoes and bamboo, and salty from the fish sauce. I always cook this dish for someone who hasn’t tried Vietnamese food before, as it is a great introduction to the cuisine.


Quantity Ingredient
50g tamarind pulp
1.5 litre fish stock
4 tablespoons fish sauce
75g sugar
1/2 sweet pineapple, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
100g pickled bamboo shoots
200g baby squid, cleaned but not skinned
200g small raw tiger prawns, peeled and deveined, tails left attached
1 tomato, cut into wedges
5 okra, trimmed, then sliced on the diagonal
1 green banana, peeled and cut into 1 cm slices, (optional)
1 elephant ear stem, peeled and sliced, (optional; omit if unavailable)
1 teaspoon garlic oil
bunch rice paddy herb, roughly sliced
bunch saw-tooth coriander, roughly sliced
2 teaspoons * fried garlic chips [rid:8091]
2 red chillies, sliced


  1. Dissolve the tamarind pulp in 250 ml hot water. Work the pulp until it has dissolved, then strain the liquid through a fine sieve into a clay pot, discarding the pulp.
  2. Add the stock, fish sauce and sugar to the clay pot and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the pineapple and bamboo shoots and bring to the boil.
  3. Add the squid and prawns and bring back to the boil, discarding any impurities that rise to the top.
  4. Add the tomato, okra, and the green banana and elephant ear stems, if using.
  5. Bring back to the boil, then transfer to serving bowls. Drizzle with the garlic oil, garnish with the herbs, garlic chips and chilli and serve.
The Food of Vietnam
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