Bitter Eggplant Soup with Pork Belly (Canh Cà Đắng Thịt Ba Chỉ)

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Save Recipe bitter eggplant soup with pork belly
  • 4Servings
  • 30 mPrep Time
  • 15 mCook Time
  • 45 mReady In
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The bitter eggplant or cà đắng is a local Vietnamese name for the green striped eggplant that might be found in some nearby countries’ cuisine. This vegetable is particularly popular among the minority communities like Ê Đê, K’Ho, M’Nông, J’rai in Vietnam’s Central Highlands. A smaller bitter eggplant version, the pea eggplant (Solanum torvum, Vietnamese: cà đắng bi, cà nút áo) is also used.

bitter eggplant soup
Bitter eggplant soup

This bitter eggplant soup consists of:

  1. Green striped eggplants (bitter eggplants), with or without pea eggplants. There is also a variation that adds bitter gourds.
  2. Meat: Traditionally, it is cooked with dried fish, venison or even buffalo gelatin. Modern adaption is chicken, beef, pork, or pork ribs…
  3. Chili peppers: bird’s eye chilis, which are also the hottest chilis in Vietnam, especially wild-gathered ones.
  4. Herbs: white basil leaves or sawtooth coriander
  5. Other optional ingredients: chive bulbs or garlic chive leaves, some vegetables like cassava leaves or shredded banana blossoms
green striped eggplants and pea eggplants
Green striped eggplants and pea eggplants

Unlike most other Vietnamese soups which are clear and watery, this bitter eggplant soup is rather thick in texture. It is served with hot rice.


Step by step method

  • Marinating pork belly

    Marinate pork belly pieces with 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tablespoon granule seasoning, 1/2 tsp msg, 1 tsp sugar for about 20 mins or more.

  • Prepping the bitter eggplants

    Cut the green striped eggplants into halves or wedges then soak then in briny water for 7 mins, and drain.

  • Prepping the soup paste

    In a mortar, pound 4-5 birds eye chiillis, chive bulbs, 3 sprigs of sawtooth coriander leaves, 1/2 tsp salt, and 2 tsp msg.

  • Cooking

    In a pot, add the eggplants, pork belly, and pour the pork stock or just water if you don't have. Add 4-5 bird's eye chillis, cover and bring to a boil. Continue to cook, uncovered, for about 6 mins. Add the cassava leaves or banana blossoms and cook for 4-5 mins. Season with the prepared soup paste.

Tips & variations

  • You can also use more spices such as galangal root, white cinnamon depending on your preference to make a spice mixture.

  • Use banana blossoms or similar veggies if you do not have cassava leaves

  • If you have pork stock, just ignore msg.

  • Chicken can be substituted for pork belly.

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