Vietnamese Hot and Sour Fish Soup

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Visually beautiful, with red, dark green, and white cut shapes in a tamarind-dark broth; in taste, sour piquant offset by sweet fish and earthy okra--it's a sensational soup: appetite stimulating and totally, totally satisfying at the same time. Serve pi

Preparation time: 20-30min
Cooking time: 9 min

Serves: 2-3


1 cup raw rice slowly boiled with about 2 cups of water for 20-30 minutes (pot tightly covered)
1 pound fish fillets or steaks, cut into ¼-inch strips
2 green onions, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla)
6 Tablespoons tamarind concentrate dissolved in 6 Tablespoons hot water
5 cups fish stock
1 fresh tomato, skinned, (or 3 canned tomatoes that have been seeded), cut into thin wedges
2 small red bird chilies, thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla)
1½ cups okra (fresh or frozen, but let the frozen defrost), sliced into rounds
Garnish: 1 cup mung bean sprouts; ¼ cup slightly chopped cilantro; 2 teaspoons hot pepper oil (which you can make by sautéing ¼ teaspoon dried hot peppers in 2 teaspoons of oil); and small lime wedges


Prepare the rice and set aside when done.

In a bowl, mix the scallion, black pepper, and 1 Tablespoon of nuoc mam, then toss in the fish strips and let marinate for 15 minutes.

In another bowl, stir the tamarind concentrate into the hot water and let sit until ready to use.

In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a boil, then stir in the tamarind, the tomato wedges, the sliced chiles, and 3 Tablespoons of nuoc mam. Simmer for 3 minutes, then add the okra and fish. Simmer until the fish is done--about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in the bean sprouts, cilantro, and chile oil. Spoon rice portions equally into the bowls, then ladle the soup over each one and top with the lime wedges.


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