Hot and sour fish soup (by Ghillie Basan)

Hot and sour fish soup (by Ghillie Basan)


30 Minutes




Indonesian, Thai




Low Fat

Making this recipe


  • 8 dried red chillies, soaked in warm water until soft, drained, and seeds removed
  • 8 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and sliced
  • 25g/1oz fresh galangal, peeled and chopped
  • 25g/1oz fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 120g/4oz snakebeans, washed and trimmed
  • 450g/1lb fish cutlets (such as trout, cod, sea perch, pike)
  • 850ml/1.5 pints water

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This recipe is from internationally acclaimed cook and food writer Ghillie Basan who has very kindly allowed us to share this with you on our website. As well as the author of numerous cookery books, Ghillie runs innovative and inspiring, hands-on cookery workshops from where she lives in a remote outpost of the Scottish highlands – find out more about Ghillie, her books and workshops.

This is a Malay version of the hot and sour fish soup found throughout Southeast Asia. Generally, the Malays eat this soup with chunks of bread to dip into the highly flavoured broth.

To make the rempah, grind all the ingredients to a paste, using a mortar and pestle, or food processor.

Heat the oil in a wok, or heavy-based pot, and stir in the rempah. Fry the spice paste until it is fragrant and begins to change colour. Stir in the tamarind and add the snakebeans, tossing them around the wok until coated in the spice mixture. Pour in the water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Season the broth with salt and pepper, then add the fish cutlets. Cook gently for 2-3 minutes, then ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with coriander and serve with steamed rice or chunks of fresh bread.