Typically served as part of a meal in Vietnam, tangy-sweet, intensely aromatic soups like this one balance the savory, salty flavors of other foods on the table. We loved it on its own, too. Mai Pham, chef and owner of Lemon Grass restaurant in Sacramento, California, gave us the recipe.
Sunset JULY 2010
1. Break off tamarind from brick and soak in 1/3 cup warm water 30 minutes, then push through a sieve and discard solids.
2. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and fry shallots, gently stirring, until golden and crisp, about 12 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Pour all but about 2 tsp. oil into a heatproof bowl (reserve for another use).
3. Cook garlic in pot over medium heat, stirring, 20 seconds. Add chili paste, broth, 1 cup water, the fish sauce, sugar, tamarind liquid, and tomatoes; bring to a boil, covered.
4. Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Add cabbage, pineapple, bean sprouts, and shrimp; cook just until shrimp curl. Stir in herbs and chiles; serve with shallots and lime wedges.
*Find tamarind pulp and sambal oelek in the Asian aisle of well-stocked grocery stores or at Asian markets.
Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.
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