I loved watching food TV from a very young age and what I remember most as a child is watching Masterchef with Loyd Grossman. He spoke funny but I still loved him and I got to meet him one day in September to show him Canh Chua which is a sweet and sour soup with sea bass (it can be any fish). The irony was that I mother used to make this for us after school for dinner and as we ate it, we watched Loyd on the television.
The soup is the perfect example of what Vietnamese food is all about! Sweet, sour and salty with beautiful combinations of silky texture from fish and crunchy vegetables. This soup has two dishes in one, completing a typical Vietnamese lunch or dinner – to be shared with friends, family and loved ones. You can eat the vegetables from the soup at any time, taking only a few pieces of fish as and when you require it and take the broth into your rice bowl towards the end of grains and drink it all up. It also only takes a few minutes to cook. Everything else is in the prep. It is excellent with fish like hake, cod, haddock, sea bass, sea bream, carp and salmon. It is also great with fish cakes or chicken and you can use whatever herbs you have like sawtooth, dill, basil, mint or coriander. The taro stems are the sponge-like looking vegetables. They are not cooked but added when the heat is turned off so they retain bite and the broth keeps in between the holes which makes for a crunchy and brothy mouthful!
The fish is poached within the soup for stock and flavour to the broth, then removed from the pot onto a dish of fine premium fish sauce and crushed chillies. It is then shared with steamed rice.
You can see the video here, where I cook and explain everything to Loyd.