Photo: Annabelle Breakey; Styling: Karen Shinto
Total Time
50 Mins
Serves 4 (10 cups)

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.

How to Make It

Step 1

Break off tamarind from brick and soak in 1/3 cup warm water 30 minutes, then push through a sieve and discard solids.

Step 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).

Step 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.

Step 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.

Step 5

*Find tamarind pulp and sambal oelek in the Asian aisle of well-stocked grocery stores or at Asian markets.

Step 6

Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.

Lemon Grass, Sacramento, California

Ratings & Reviews

Riley56's Review

June 24, 2010
Under instruction #2, it states you should fry the shallots for 12 MINUTES! It should be just 2 minutes. I burned the shallots at 3 minutes...oil was not overly hot either. I'm sure you could start a grease fire at 12 minutes. I did another batch and sautéed them in a little bit of vegetable oil and then added the minced garlic etc. It was just as good and lots more healthier. I also added some chopped lemongrass to the broth mixture. This soup has the perfect blend of sweet and sour.