Life Life

22/05/2018 - 18:57

Fresh anchovy, wood sorrel soup

Wood sorrel is perfect for cooking soup.

The summer has come with the shrill cicada songs on the street. The sun scorches from early morning and makes everybody exhausted. To cool off, many people use ice, fans or air conditioners, whereas my mom has her own way in the “habit cures habit” style with hot anchovy and wood sorrel soup.

The fresh sourness of that anchovy and sorrel soup has followed me since my difficult childhood to college time, until now and ever after.

While cicadas come out from the ground to participate in the summer epic, wood sorrel buds also “wake up”, and rise from the wet soil to strongly bloom. The round sorrel leaves divided into three heart-shaped leaflets with sparkling dewdrops in early morning look very eye-catching. Without chemical fertilizers and insecticides, wood sorrel can be seen as a kind of safe vegetable and has become popular with many people.

In the past, after lots of fun and frolics that tired us out, my friends and I picked some sorrel stems to nibble to meet our crave for attractive tamarinds and steeped ambarellas sold in the kiosk of Mrs. Nga in the village.

Wood sorrel is perfect for cooking soup. To cook soup with a bundle of anchovies bought at the market in the morning, my mom always uses bamboo shoot pickle. However, at that time it was all out, so she asked her children to pick some sorrel in the garden and remarked: “It is really delicious to cook soup with wood sorrel and anchovies.”

The anchovies are cleaned and flavored with spices. When the stock boils hard, my mom puts the anchovies into the stock and quickly turns off the stove before putting the green sorrel into the soup. Unlike other kinds of vegetable, wood sorrel takes just little time to cook; it turns brownish green right after put in the pot. At this time, the soup looks like a colorful painting with the ivory of anchovies, the red of chili powder and the brownish green of cooked sorrel. 

Miraculously, that hot soup which was eaten on the summer afternoon could help reduce our tiredness with its fresh sourness and delicious flavors. At that lunch, we ate more rice and our mom had to give us more servings of soup, but we did not feel full yet. Our mom gently cooled us with a bamboo fan and smiled happily when we had such a good appetite.

Story and photo: Hoai An