Fans of sinigang will either love this or hate this — no in-between.
The sourness of the tamarind juice is there and well-pronounced, and that’s something that hardcore sinigang lovers will appreciate. The boldness. The tenacity. That feeling that one’s taste buds had been jolted into attention.
But because the acidic tamarind juice mingles with the subtle sweetness of the pineapple, it hits the palate differently. As the broth flows through the mouth and down the throat, there is no sharpness because the natural sugar in the pineapple balances the acidity of the tamarind juice to create a flavor that’s softer and mellow — and sinigang lovers will likely disapprove.
Me? Oh, I love this soup. I am thinking that whole shrimps or chicken or pork can replace the salmon, and the soup will be just as stunning.
But the best thing about this soup is you can actually control the balance between sour and sweet by just modifying the amount of tamarind juice or pineapple chunks. If you need help with the tamarind juice part and cutting a whole pineapple, see the linked posts below.
The cooking procedure is so simple. There’s even no sauteeing required to create a flavor base. You just simmer everything together in a pot. And the whole process can be made even simpler if you have fish stock that’s ready to use.
If you have fish stock, you may use salmon fillets which should shorten the prep time tremendously. Just cut into cubes and drop into the pot.
But if you don’t have fish stock, the soup will have a richer flavor if you use bone-in fish. Boil water, drizzle in fish sauce then drop in the fish. Simmer just until the fish is done (that doesn’t take long), scoop out the fish, separate the flesh from the bones, return the bones into the pot and cook to draw out the flavors. Strain the liquid and you now have a very basic fish stock.
Place tomatoes, celery, okra, bell peppers and pineapple chunks in a clean pot. Pour in the fish stock and tamarind juice. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer just until the okra is done (among all the ingredients in the pot, okra requires the longest cooking time).
While the vegetables and pineapple are simmering in the pot, break the salmon flesh into chunks. When the okra is done, add the salmon to the pot, add more fish sauce if needed, and simmer until the fish is heated through. Your soup is now ready to be served.
Vietnamese-style sweet sour salmon soup
- In a pot, boil four cups of water, drop in the salmon, and pour in two tablespoons fish sauce.
- Boil the fish just until done, about five minutes.
- Scoop out the fish, and break the flesh into chunks as you separate it from the bones.
- Put the fish bones back into the pot and simmer for ten minutes.
- Strain the liquid; discard the bones.
- Place the tomatoes, bell peppers, celery, okra and pineapple chunks in a clean pot, and pour in the fish stock, tamarind juice and another tablespoon of fish sauce.
- Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for ten minutes or just until the okra is done.
- Add the salmon chunks into the pot and continue simmering just until the fish is heated through.
- Taste, stir in more fish sauce if needed, garnish with cilantro and serve.