Tamarind gives this light, fragrant noodle soup a slightly sour taste.
2 litres (3 1/2 pints) 8 cups water
1 kg (2 1/4 lb) red snapper (or other red fish such as mullet)
1 onion, sliced
50 g (2 oz) tamarind pods
15 ml (1 tbsp) fish sauce
15 ml (1 tbsp) sugar
30 ml (2 tbsp) vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 lemon grass stalks, very finely chopped
4 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
30 ml (2 tbsp) yellow bean paste
225 g (8 oz) rice vermicelli, soaked in warm water until soft
115 g (4 oz) beansprouts
8 - 10 basil or mint sprigs
25 g (1 oz) roasted peanuts, ground salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring the water to the boil in a saucepan. Lower the heat and add the fish and onion, with 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) salt. Simmer gently until the fish is cooked through.
2. Remove the fish from the stock; set aside. Add the tamarind, fish sauce and sugar to the stock. Cook for 5 minutes, then strain the stock into a large jug or bowl.
3. Carefully remove all of the bones from the fish, keeping the flesh in big pieces.
4. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and lemon grass and fry for a few seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and bean paste. Cook gently for 5 - 7 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft. Add the stock, bring back to a simmer and adjust the seasoning.
5. Drain the vermicelli. Plunge it into a saucepan of boiling water for a few minutes, drain and divide among individual serving bowls.
6. Add the beansprouts, fish and basil or mint, and sprinkle the ground peanuts on top. Top up each bowl with the hot soup.
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