I may not yet have a green thumb, but I’ve learnt an incredible amount of gardening tips and tricks from my Mum over the years. I’ve grown my own chilli plants from seed, I’ve kept my pandan plant alive (it is thriving now, even through winter!), and I’ve even grown mint from cuttings!

Whilst my courtyard only has the bare essentials, I’m lucky to have access to my Mum’s amazing piece of Southeast Asia in her suburban backyard. There’s always something waiting for me… One week it’s guava and the next week it’s kumquats.

Her abundance of bac ha (Alocasia Odora) was the perfect excuse for me to cook up my very own Vietnamese sour soup for the first time last week!

Here are some pics from her kitchen garden —

Bac ha (also known as elephant ear stems) are used in this soup. I don’t think I’ve ever had bac ha in any other forms!? Anyway, its spongey texture is perfect for absorbing the beautiful soup flavours!

bac ha in suburban Sydney backyard

Another must-have ingredient in a Vietnamese sour soup is ngo om, also known as rice paddy herb. Freshly chopped rice paddy herb imparts an amazing citrusy fragrance and a cumin-like flavour that is irreplaceable.

rice paddy herb (ngo om) in suburban sydney backyard

Ngo gai (Sawtooth coriander) has a strong coriander flavour and is also a common garnish for sour soups.

sawtooth coriander in suburb sydney backyard

Canh chua is best served with a bowl of rice or vermicelli and a dipping plate of fish sauce with fresh chillies! It really is the ultimate weeknight meal in winter as it is unbelievably easy to cook up, and is so hearty and wholesome!

homemade vietnamese sour soup with prawns, bac ha, okra, ngo om rice paddy herb

I was blown away by how simple this recipe was. It didn’t take long to prep or cook, yet it had such a depth of flavour and the balance between sour, sweet and salty was spot on! The resulting soup was definitely one of the best I’ve ever had. I must cook it for Mum so she can be the judge of it 😉

This recipe is such a keeper, I just had to share it with you — http://tinytearoom.com/canh-chua-tom-vietnamese-sour-soup-prawn

Happy cooking!

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Jennifer is the founding blogger of I Ate My Way Through (originally, Jenius.com.au). Growing up in the multicultural melting pot of Sydney’s Inner West as a second generation Australian (of Vietnamese refugee parents of Teochew Chinese ancestry), Jen has always had a deep curiosity about global cuisines, culinary heritage and the cultural assimilation of immigrants. For Jen and her family, food is always at the centre of all celebrations, life events and milestones. A lover of the finer things in life, as well as cheap eats, her blogging ethos is all about empowering and inspiring people to expand their culinary repertoire. When not running her two companies (she is also the Managing Director of The Bamboo Garden online marketing agency), Jen can be found exploring old-world charms at vintage markets and delving into local eats around the world. She has a weakness for fried chicken.