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Authentic Vietnamese recipes from the Motherland

Vietnamese Fish Soup with Chinese Celery and Tomatoes (Canh Ca Nau Ngot)

Yesterday was my birthday. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to celebrate much. Seasonal allergies hit me like a ton of bricks. I had a migraine the size of Texas. My back my was hurting from cleaning the garage the previous day and the sounds of my kids were driving me up the walls. It was not a good day, and it surely was not a day to celebrate the big 3-4.

Instead, I relived my youth quietly by eating a large bowl of Lucky Charms cereal for dinner. It wasn't my best idea and it added to the already miserable day. I can still feel my teeth rotting away from all that processed sweetness.

I'm postponing my birthday celebration for now. Maybe things will be better in Maui *Wink*.

Moving on...

Fish Soup with Chinese Celery and Tomatoes (Canh Ca Nau Ngot) is a traditional Vietnamese soup that can be whipped up in mere minutes. This soup is similar to the Vietnamese Sour Fish Soup (Canh Chua Ca) but it's more mild in flavor and utilizes fewer ingredients. It's a great alternative when you don't have all ingredients for Canh Chua. The tartness in this soup comes from the tomatoes instead of tamarind as in Canh Chua. For me, I like a bit more tartness so I squeezed in some limes. For a more flavorful soup, use chicken or fish stock instead of water. As for the fish, any type will do. I like to stick to either tilapia, salmon or cod. Serve this soup with a bowl of steamed white rice and you got yourself a complete and quick meal.

Vietnamese Fish Soup with Chinese Celery and Tomatoes (Canh Ca Nau Ngot)

Vietnamese Fish Soup with Chinese Celery and Tomatoes (Canh Ca Nau Ngot)

Tomatoes, minced garlic and lime (for added tartness)

Tomatoes, minced garlic and lime (for added tartness)

Salmon fillets with skin

Salmon fillets with skin

Vietnamese Fish Soup with Chinese Celery and Tomatoes (Canh Ca Nau Ngot)

Serves 5-7

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 liters water/chicken stock/fish stock
  • 1-1/2 lbs whole fish or 1 lb fish fillets 
  • 1 stalk Chinese celery (Separate leaves from stalks, then cut into bite-size pieces. For the thicker stalks, use a vegetable peeler to remove the fibers. This will make them tender and easier to eat)
  • 2 large tomatoes (quartered)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves (peeled and minced)
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder
  • Juice of 2 limes

Instructions

  1. In a medium-size pot, coat the bottom with vegetable oil and heat on medium high.
  2. Add garlic. Saute until fragrant and lightly browned.
  3. Add stock/water and fish. Bring to a boil then turn. Cook for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add celery stalks. Cook for about 2 more minutes or until stalks are tender.
  5. Season with fish sauce, sugar, chicken bouillon powder and limes.
  6. Add celery leaves and turn off heat. Serve with steamed white rice.
Chinese celery. Separate the stalks from the leaves. The leaves cook up much faster than the stalks.

Chinese celery. Separate the stalks from the leaves. The leaves cook up much faster than the stalks.

If you have a garden, don't discard the root end of the celery. Plant them in your garden and it will regenerate. Give it plenty of water and watch the magic happens. It's awesome.

If you have a garden, don't discard the root end of the celery. Plant them in your garden and it will regenerate. Give it plenty of water and watch the magic happens. It's awesome.