Sour fish soup with tamarind

Time 30 minutes
Yields Serves 4 to 6
Sour fish soup with tamarind
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes, or until fragrant and soft. Add the salt, sugar, fish sauce, tamarind liquid and 5 1/2 cups water.


Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, add the catfish and the pineapple, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the catfish and pineapple are tender but still firm. If you are not serving the soup right away, turn off the heat and cover.


Just before serving, return the soup to a simmer. Drop in the okra and cook for 2 minutes, or until tender but still firm. Add the tomatoes, bean sprouts and cumin. When the bean sprouts have just wilted, after about 30 seconds, turn off the heat.


Taste and add extra salt or fish sauce, if necessary. Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with the cilantro.

Adapted from “Into the Vietnamese Kitchen” by Andrea Nguyen. See the accompanying recipe for tamarind liquid. You also can use canned “fresh tamarind concentrate” (use the same amount as of tamarind liquid). Fresh okra is available year-round at Asian markets. You may substitute snow peas cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3/4 cup). Vietnamese fish sauce is available at Southeast Asian markets.

Get our new Cooking newsletter, coming soon.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.