© Dana Gallagher
Active Time
45 MIN
Total Time
2 HR
Serves : 6 to 8

Charles Phan recalls eating numerous versions of this slightly sweet and pleasantly tangy fish soup while growing up in Vietnam. Some included only chopped tomato while others were made with a colorful mix of vegetables. Here, he adds freshly squeezed lime juice for a hit of sourness instead of the more traditional tamarind pulp. He adds bean sprouts to the soup for a refreshing crunch. Plus: More Soup Recipes and Tips

How to Make It

Step 1    

Pour the water into a large stockpot. Add the fish heads and bones, 3 tablespoons of the fish sauce and the lemongrass, ginger, onion and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer for 1 hour.

Step 2    

Meanwhile, cut the snapper fillets into 1 1/2-inch pieces and transfer to a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil, the remaining 2 tablespoons of fish sauce and toss. Refrigerate the fish for 1 hour.

Step 3    

Heat the remaining 6 tablespoons of oil in a small skillet. Add the garlic and cook over high heat, stirring, until fragrant and lightly golden, about 30 seconds. Pour the garlic oil into a bowl and let cool.

Step 4    

Strain the soup through a fine sieve, pressing hard on the solids. Wipe out the pot. Return the fish soup to it and bring to a boil. Add the mushrooms and simmer over moderate heat until just tender, about 1 minute. Add the marinated snapper and cook just until opaque, about 2 minutes. Season the soup with salt. Add the bean sprouts and scallions and stir in the garlic oil. Serve right away with sliced chiles and lime wedges.

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