Vietnamese Sweet and Sour Soup with Pineapple Soup

Vietnamese Sweet and Sour Soup with Pineapple Soup

Serving Size  : 4    

1/4       cup  olive oil
1           Tablespoon  toasted sesame oil
5           cloves  garlic — finely chopped
6           Tablespoons  seedless tamarind pulp
4           cups  water
1/4       cup  dark brown sugar
1/3       cup  fish sauce
5           cloves  garlic — finely sliced
5           stems lemongrass — crushed
1           cup  okra — cut into thirds on the diagonal
1           cup  pineapple chunks
4           Roma tomatoes — cut into sixths lengthwise
1           teaspoon  chili
             Fresh lime juice to taste
             Vietnamese mint leaves — finely shredded
1        Handful  bean sprouts
4        spring onions — cut thinly on the diagonal
          Mint leaves

Combine the oils and garlic in a small saucepan over a low heat. Cook until half the garlic just begins to turn golden (about 3 minutes) and then remove from the heat. The garlic will continue to cook and be just the right colour and texture. Set aside.

Combine the tamarind paste with 1/3 cup of hot water in a small bowl and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Work the paste well with your fingers and strain through a sieve into a large soup pot, discarding the solids.

Add 4 cups water to the tamarind water in the soup pot. Add the sliced garlic, lemongrass stalks, palm sugar and fish sauce.

Simmer the stock over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes.

Add the okra and half the chilli and simmer for 1-2 minutes, then add the pineapple and simmer for another minute. Add the fish and cook for a further minute, followed by the tomato. Cook for 1 more minute or until the fish is just cooked through. Add the rest of the chilli and lime juice to taste. Check the stock to see if it needs more chilli, fish sauce or palm sugar to balance the hot, salty and sweet flavours. Stir through the shredded Vietnamese mint.

Ladle the soup into large serving bowls. Drizzle each serve with the reserved garlic oil and scatter with a few bean sprouts, spring onions and herbs.

Pile the extra herbs, spring onions, bean sprouts, chilli and lime cheeks onto a central serving platter for people to help themselves.

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