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Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup
with Lemongrass

(Canh Chua Tom)

Piquant and sour, this Vietnamese soup is an explosion of textures, colors, and shapes. It will have you gasping for breath, wiping your eyes, and begging for more. Serve hot to 6 people as a first course--or to 2 as a main course.

  • 1 cup rice, prepared in a rice cooker or saucepan as directed
  • ¾ pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved for the broth
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, with the green stalks cut off from the white bulb and reserved--and with the tender inner heart of the bulb pounded flat, minced finely, and set aside
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 15-ounce can straw mushrooms, drained
  • 1 small tomato, peeled and cut into thin wedges
  • 1 lime, grated and juiced


Cook the rice as directed, and reserve. Ready the garnishes and set aside.

Prepare the broth by bringing 4 cups of water to a boil with the shrimp shells, then adding the lemongrass stalks and removing from heat. After a minute, strain out the shells and stalks.

When ready to serve, add the mushrooms, lime juice and grated peel, minced lemongrass heart, and tomato to the broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and simmer for 2 more minutes. Pour into a tureen. Stir in the garnishes. Take to the table and serve at once, passing the rice and chili sauce separately.