Eel-tailed Catfish Hotpot with Mangrove Apple

Mangrove apple can be found along alluvial soil-rich river banks, filled with beautiful flowers and fruit. In addition to its popular colloquial name Bần, the species has an elegant Vietnamese name, Thúy Liễu. Green mangrove apples are cut into four and served with Vietnamese meatloaf, while ripe ones are served in sour fish soup. Sour mangrove apple soup cooked with any species of wild fish yields a special taste, it goes best with eel-tailed catfish.

Eel-tailed catfish is chubby and its meat has a chewy texture. It is best served with pineapple, tomatoes, mint or water mimosa, water lily, water spinach, or common sesban, a tidal season plant. Grind a sour mangrove apple into the soup, add cilantro and sawtooth herbs and the result is mouthwatering sour fish soup.

A dinner with sour soup, chili salt and caramelized fish sauce, or braised flying barbs served with steamed, freshly harvested rice can be savored endlessly.


  • 1kg eel-tailed catfish (or red-tail catfish or snakehead fish)
  • 500g mangrove apple
  • ¼ pineapple
  • 2 Indian taro stems
  • 2 okra
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Water mimosa, water lily or common sesban
  • 5 sprigs of sawtooth herbs
  • 2 sprigs of cilantro
  • 1 chili
  • Shallot, white part of spring onion and chopped garlic
  • Spices: fish sauce, salt and sugar


  1. Wash and cut eel tailed catfish into chunks, marinate with chopped shallot, spring onions, and two tablespoons of fish sauce.
  2. Prepare vegetables for the sour soup: Remove pineapple core and thinly slice it. Cut tomatoes lengthwise. Peel off Indian taro stems and diagonally cut them into thin slices. Slice chili, chop cilantro and sawtooth herbs.
  3. Boil a liter of water and soak the peeled and cut mangrove apples until they soften. Then scoop them out and squeeze out the sour extract to serve with the soup.
  4. Briefly poach the fish in boiling water to get rid of its fishy smell; discard the marinating juice. Place fish in the boiling mangrove apple soup pot. Add a tablespoon of salt, a tablespoon of fish sauce and three tablespoons of sugar. Wait till the fish is cooked and pour in the mangrove apple extract. Add pineapple, Indian taro stem, and chili. Taste to adjust the flavour.

Serve the soup in a bowl and sprinkle with cilantro, sawtooth herbs and a tablespoon of garlic oil.

People in the Mekong Delta region often serve this soup with chili salt.


  • Pre-packed mangrove apple powder is available at some supermarkets.
  • The Mekong Delta version usually has a sugary and bold taste, so moderate the spices to suit your appetite.

This content is also available in: Tiếng Việt


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