Vietnamese Sweet & Sour Catfish Soup (Canh Chua Ca Tre)
- 1/2 lb catfish (Thoroughly clean and slice into 1-inch steaks)
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 8 cups water
- 5 tablespoons granulated white sugar
- 2 tablespoons tamarind powder (or 40 grams tamarind pulp)
- 1 tablespoon chicken stock powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 large tomatoes (about 1 lb; quarter)
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic (mince)
- 8-10 sprigs Thai Basil (remove leaves from stem and cut into thin strips)
- 1 Thai chili pepper (optional for those who like it spicy)
- Marinate catfish with fish sauce at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
- Add water (8 cups) to a medium-sized pot and bring it to a boil.
- Add catfish, along with its juices. Cook for 15 minutes on low heat. Use a mesh or small spoon to scoop out any scum that floats to the top.
- Add sugar, tamarind powder, chicken stock powder and salt. If you are using tamarind pulp instead of tamarind powder, ladle a cup or so of hot water from the pot into a small bowl. Add the tamarind pulp to the hot water. Smash the pulp with the back of a spoon until it separates from the seeds. Strain the pulp back into the pot, discarding any tamarind seeds that remains.
- Add tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Turn off heat.
- Add the bean sprouts. The residual heat will cook the bean sprouts.
- In a small sauce pan, heat up the vegetable oil high and fry the garlic until golden brown. Transfer fried garlic and oil to the pot.
- Top with basil and chili pepper.