Hot and sour fish soup

by Ray McVinnie | Cuisine issue #157
Serves: 6The amount of tamarind you'll need for a pleasant sour flavour will depend on what brand you are using - I used the Indian Tamicon brand which is very thick and dark.

600g skinned and boned firm white fish fillets, cut into 5cm pieces
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 tablespoons fish sauce
4 tablespoons soy bean oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 sticks lemongrass, bulb ends crushed
3 tablespoons grated palm sugar
2 green chillies, halved lengthwise
large pinch of chilli flakes
2 tablespoons thick tamarind concentrate
100g cellophane or bean thread noodles, soaked for 30 minutes in hot water then drained
1⁄2 cup drained canned sliced bamboo shoots
11⁄2 cups bite-sized pieces peeled fresh pineapple
2 tomatoes, cored, cut into thin wedges
1 cup mung bean sprouts
Vietnamese mint, mint and coriander sprigs to serve

Put the fish in a bowl with the garlic and 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce. Mix well and set aside for 30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a wide, deep frying pan then fry the fish, in batches, until lightly browned. Set aside. Add the onion and lemongrass to the pan and fry gently for 5 minutes. Add the sugar, chillies, chilli flakes, tamarind, noodles and 1.25 litres water. Mix well then bring to the boil.

Return the fish to the pan, along with the bamboo shoots, pineapple and bean sprouts. Heat through then taste and adjust the sweet, salty, sour and hot flavours if necessary. Serve in wide bowls, sprinkled with herbs.

Wine An off-dry pinot gris.

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