Vietnamese fish soup: Among the top 10 highly-rated fish soups worldwide

Vietnamese fish soup

When it comes to Vietnam travel and experiencing authentic Vietnamese food, Vietnamese fish soup is a must-try. This beloved dish offers a delightful journey through the diverse and tantalizing flavors of the country. Read on to not miss the opportunity to savor this iconic soup on your culinary adventure in Vietnam.

1. About Vietnamese fish soup (canh chua ca)

In the realm of Vietnamese culinary delights in general and Vietnamese soup in particular, Vietnamese fish soup, or Vietnamese sour fish soup, stands out as a nutritious rustic dish. It has become a staple in the lives of Vietnamese people. The term “canh chua ca” is a general reference to various distinct Vietnamese fish soup dishes that harmoniously blend sweet, sour, and spicy flavors. These soups typically feature various types of fish as the primary ingredient, which is simmered in a broth crafted from tamarind, pineapple, tomato, okra, bean sprouts, and assorted greens.

Vietnamese fish soup

The humble Vietnam fish soup has found its place on the world culinary map, securing the 7th position in Taste Atlas, a renowned culinary website’s list of the most delightful soups worldwide.

>>> Read more: Vietnamese Vegetables: Eat like a local with TOP 20 most common vegetables

2. TOP 5 Vietnamese fish soup recipes for the best flavor

From the basic Vietnamese fish soup ingredients, people from each region have come up with variations of canh chua recipes using different types of fish and greens. Each dish boasts its own delectable flavors. Let’s explore how to make them!

2.1. Vietnamese snakehead fish soup (canh chua ca loc)

Canh chua ca loc is a popular variation in the South. It features sweet and tangy flavors complemented by firm, succulent slices of snakehead fish that are low in fat. The ingredients are snakehead fish, okra, tomato, pineapple, tamarind, doc mung (colocasia gigantea or Indian taro), bean sprouts, purple onions, garlic, chili, salt, seasoning powder, cooking oil, sugar, and aromatic herbs.

To cook this Vietnamese fish soup with pineapple and tomato:

  • Prepare the ingredients
    • Slice the fish into bite-sized pieces then marinate them with minced purple onions, garlic, and seasoning powder.
    • Slice the pineapple and okra diagonally. Cut the tomatoes. Finely chop the herbs.
    • Blanch the doc mung in boiling water then rinse with cold water. Soak the tamarind in warm water to extract the pulp.
  • Sauté the purple onions and garlic in cooking oil until fragrant. Add the marinated fish and lightly stir-fry. Add water, bring it to a boil, then add pineapple and tamarind.
  • After about 3 minutes of boiling, add the tomato, okra, doc mung, and bean sprouts. Season the soup to taste. Just before serving, garnish with aromatic herbs.

Vietnamese fish soup

2.2. Vietnamese red tilapia fish soup (canh chua ca dieu hong)

Another beloved variation is canh chua ca dieu hong, which is especially popular in the Mekong Delta. This simple Vietnamese fish soup recipe highlights the sweet and fatty flavors of red tilapia fish. The ingredients include red tilapia fish, okra, tomato, pineapple, doc mung, bean sprouts, purple onions, garlic, tamarind, seasoning, and aromatic herbs.

This canh chua recipe includes the following steps:

  • Prepare the ingredients as you would do for the snakehead fish soup mentioned above. 
  • Boil water to cook the fish. Then, use the fish stock, pineapple, and tomato to make the broth. Simmer it.
  • Add the doc mung, okra, and bean sprouts. Continue to cook for about two minutes. Season the soup to taste.
  • Turn off the heat and serve the soup garnished with aromatic herbs.

Vietnamese fish soup

2.3. Vietnamese howler fish soup (canh chua ca hu)

Howler fish is a type of freshwater fish known for its tasty meat and high nutritional value. Canh chua ca hu has a refreshing and slightly tangy taste with the delightful aroma of the fish. This Vietnamese fish soup’s ingredients are howler fish, doc mung, pineapple, tomato, okra, tamarind, seasoning, aromatic herbs, chili, garlic, and purple onions.


  • Prepare the ingredients as described earlier.
  • Heat oil in a pan. Sauté the purple onions and garlic until fragrant. Quickly sear the fish on both sides to remove any fishy odor.
  • Pour water into the pot along with the tamarind pulp and seasoning powder, then bring it to a boil. Add the pineapple and tomato to cook for 5 minutes.
  • Include the doc mung, okra, and bean sprouts. Once the fish is cooked, garnish with aromatic herbs and enjoy.

Vietnamese fish soup

2.4. Vietnamese cobia fish soup (canh chua ca bop)

Canh chua ca bop is another excellent variation with a mild tanginess of bamboo shoots and the delightful taste of fish. To cook this dish, you need cobia fish, doc mung, tomato, bamboo shoots, garlic, seasoning, and aromatic herbs.

This quick Vietnamese soup recipe includes the following steps:

  • Prepare the ingredients by blanching the bamboo shoots. Chop the remaining ingredients as usual.
  • Heat oil in a pan, sauté garlic, and add tomatoes. Stir until the tomatoes soften. Pour in water and bring it to a boil.
  • Add the fish and bamboo shoots and simmer. Season the soup with seasoning to taste. Garnish with aromatic herbs.

Vietnamese fish soup

2.5. Vietnamese catfish soup (canh chua ca lang)

Lastly, “canh chua ca lang” is a flavorful and memorable dish among various Vietnamese fish soup recipes. The sweet and rich taste of catfish harmonizes with the mild tartness of tomato, creating a dish that many people adore. Ingredients include catfish, tomato, ginger, turmeric, dracontomelon, lemongrass, garlic, seasoning, and aromatic herbs.

The Vietnamese catfish soup recipe includes the following steps:

  • Marinate the fish with fish sauce, ground pepper, ginger, and turmeric. Prepare other ingredients as usual.
  • Heat oil in a pan and sauté the garlic until fragrant. Quickly sear the catfish to eliminate any fishy odor.
  • Pour water into the pan and bring it to a boil. Add dracontomelon, lemongrass, and tomato. Simmer thoroughly.
  • Turn off the heat and adjust the sourness of the dracontomelon to your taste.

Vietnamese fish soup

>>> Discover: 12 of the most famous Vietnamese foods that are definitely worth a try

3. Differences in Vietnamese fish soup in the three regions

Vietnamese fish soup dishes in the three regions (Northern, Central, and Southern) share a gentle sourness. Still, each region has its unique ingredients to create its own specialty canh chua ca. 

Similar to Northern Vietnamese food, the hallmark of canh chua ca in the Northern region is its tangy sourness derived from tamarind, star fruit, and vinegar. No sugar is added to maintain a naturally subtle sweetness. 

In contrast, Central Vietnamese food in general adds a touch of spiciness from chili alongside the traditional sourness. Canh chua ca in the Central region achieves its sourness from pineapple, tomato, and fermented bamboo shoots, resulting in a more intense sour taste. It can also be called Vietnamese hot and sour soup.

As we move further to Southern Vietnam, the flavors of Vietnamese fish soup become somewhat more diverse. The sourness in the soup is slightly milder, mingling with the sweet flavor of sugar. The ingredients used for canh chua ca here are incredibly varied, including various fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Vietnamese fish soup

4. What dishes pair well with Vietnamese fish soup?

Canh chua ca is renowned for its perfect balance of sour and sweet flavors, making it a versatile addition to the Vietnamese dining table. Just a bowl of rice or a portion of noodles paired with Vietnamese fish soup is satisfying on its own. Alternatively, you can enjoy it alongside various main dishes to enhance the overall meal. Some dishes that pair perfectly with fish soup include stir-fried beef, steamed chicken, boiled pork, braised pork, grilled sausages, etc.

>>> Explore: Vietnam food list: 20 culinary delights you must try once in your life

After a delightful exploration of Vietnamese fish soup, it is time to continue on your trip to some iconic destinations such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phu QuocNha TrangHoi An, and Ha Long. While you are in these destinations, consider elevating your experience by indulging in the hospitality of Vinpearl‘s exceptional hotels and resorts.

With a presence spanning the entire country, Vinpearl’s establishments are dedicated to delivering a world-class experience, offering an array of services for relaxation, dining, and entertainment. For an extra dose of excitement, make sure not to miss the chance to explore the immersive entertainment complexes of VinWonders, where a wide range of unforgettable activities and festivals await your participation.

Vietnamese fish soup


Vietnamese fish soup

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Vietnamese fish soup, a true culinary gem, captures the essence of Vietnam’s rich food culture. Its tantalizing blend of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors reflects the nation’s love for fresh ingredients and bold tastes. As you explore the vibrant streets of Vietnam, don’t miss the opportunity to savor the iconic Vietnamese fish soup. Whether you are in the bustling Hanoi, the charming Hoi An, or anywhere in between, a bowl of Vietnamese sour fish soup will satisfy your taste buds and connect you to the heart of this food-loving nation.

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