The soup is easy to make, tasty, and can be eaten year round
Northern Vietnam is famous for its simple but delicious recipes like sour soup.
The soup is made with fish, clams, or field crab, each with a different recipe and producing a different flavor, but always ending up delicious.
The one with fish is simpler and easier than the one which uses field crab.
It is often made with carp or red tilapia, choosing either its head or the entire fish to produce the sweet broth.
The fish is cleaned and cut in half and marinated with a little salt and soup stock for 10 minutes allowing it to soak up the condiments.
It is then fried in a pan. If frying the fish is not the preferred option, some ginger and white wine can be used to eliminate the fishy smell and make it fragrant.
For the sour soup, tomato, pineapple, and dill are required. Dill is a distinctive vegetable in the north and indispensable for making sour soup.
Cut the tomato and pineapple. Pour some oil into a pot, and add onion and garlic to make it fragrant. Add the tomato and stir-fry to produce the color for the soup. Add water, the fried fish, and the pineapple, put some chili slices to mask the fish odor and cook until it is done. Then add the dill and other condiments to taste.
The sour soup with fish is served with herbs, rice, or vermicelli. It tastes best when served hot or in summer.
The northern sour soup tastes naturally sweet and sour and gets its flavor from dill.
The recipe for making the sour soup with baby clams is the same, but the flavor is different and distinctive.
The field crab variety
Making the soup with field crab is a slightly more elaborate process since the crab has to be cleaned and ground with a mortar and pestle.
To make this very popular dish, one has to choose fresh field crab, add some salt, and pound it with a mortar and pestle. The pounded crab is then filtered to extract the broth, while its residue and unwanted parts are removed.
After filtering, bring the extract to a boil in a soup pot, using chopsticks to stir for a minute. When the crab meat floats on the surface, reduce the heat to simmer.
To produce the sour taste for the soup, one often uses tamarind because its taste perfectly suits the flavor of the field crab.
The sour soup with field crab is good when it has crab meat floating on top, is red from tomato, and has a complex mix of sweet, cool, sour, and spicy flavors. The soup is served with vermicelli or rice.
There are more variations on this dish - for instance, sour soup with fish cake.
The dish, easy to prepare but scrumptious, and eaten year round, has spread to restaurants in the south. In Ho Chi Minh City, the delicacy can be found at the following restaurant:
3A Ton Duc Thang Street, District 1.
RIEU CA CHEP
22B Nguyen Thi Dieu Street, District 3.