Hue Sour Shrimp
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Sour shrimp - a characteristic dish of Hue cuisine in Vietnam
Hue Sour Shrimp is a distinctive type of fish sauce that is famous in Huế, used as a dipping sauce for boiled meat in traditional family meals in Huế, both in the past and present. "Tôm chua" is perhaps the most widely sold specialty gift item in Huế. Explore Huế introduces to tourists the top 7 reputable addresses for wholesale and retail of delicious, authentic "Tôm chua Huế," ensuring food safety and hygiene.
Sour shrimp - a characteristic dish of Hue cuisine in Vietnam


"Tôm chua" or sour shrimp, also known as fermented shrimp paste, is a highly popular traditional dish in the daily life of every family in Hue. "Tôm chua Huế" is prepared using fresh and delicious river shrimp, combined with chili, galangal, garlic, and toasted rice powder in a unique recipe. It is known for its distinctive flavor profile, with a combination of sour, sweet, salty, and spicy tastes, creating an intriguing and special culinary experience. Typically, people enjoy "tôm chua" by pairing it with pickled vegetables such as cucumber or star fruit and boiled pork, creating a rich and enticing meal that is unique to the people of the Ancient Capital of Hue.

According to tradition, "tôm chua Huế" originated from Gò Công land (Tiền Giang province), brought to Hue by Queen Từ Dũ in the first half of the 19th century. The dish gained favor with Kings Thiệu Trị and Tự Đức and was often served during royal banquets and imperial feasts. At that time, the preparation of fermented shrimp paste was adapted to suit the royal court environment and became known as "royal dipping sauce." Subsequently, this delicious and flavorful dish was passed down to court ladies, and servants, and gradually became popular among the general population.


What makes Hue sour shrimp special?

The best Hue sour shrimp often comes from river shrimp or fresh-water shrimp that are still fresh, plump, and have a vibrant red appearance. To achieve the most authentic flavor, the shrimp are usually caught in the "Cầu Hai nước ngọt" area. After being caught, the shrimp are cleaned and then soaked in rice wine for a short period before being drained. Next, the shrimp are evenly marinated with spices such as sliced garlic, chili, galangal, young bamboo shoots, fish sauce, and glutinous rice.

The shrimp are then placed in a ceramic jar and covered with a special additive, allowing the shrimp to ferment for a period ranging from 1 week to 10 days. This process typically takes place in a clean and cool environment, or even better, the jars may be buried in the ground to ensure a stable temperature for the fermentation process.

Once the shrimp have completed the fermentation process, a bit of honey is added to create a sweet and delicate flavor. Finally, the shrimp are tightly packaged in glass jars. Therefore, when diners savor Hue sour shrimp, they experience the harmonious blend of various flavors: the sweet and rich taste of fresh shrimp meat, the spiciness from chili, the aromatic scent of galangal and garlic, along the chewiness of glutinous rice.

Moreover, at first glance, "tôm chua Huế" provides a visually appealing experience with its combination of vibrant colors: white, pink, yellow, and red, adding a stylish and diverse element to the meal. This makes the dining experience with Hue sour shrimp captivating and unforgettable for the diners.


Experience Guide:

How to make delicious and authentic Hue-style sour shrimp:


1 kg fresh river shrimp
2 tablespoons glutinous rice powder
150 grams galangal
50 grams garlic
50 grams chili peppers
1 bowl of white rice wine
Young guava leaves
Thin bamboo strips
Seasonings such as fish sauce, salt, chili powder, etc.


Step 1: Preparation

Start by cleaning the garlic, galangal, and peel and slice them thinly. To keep the galangal looking white and attractive, you can soak the sliced galangal in a diluted saltwater solution. Similarly, clean the chili peppers, remove the seeds, and slice them into pieces.
Note: Shrimp used for making fermented shrimp paste should be fresh and thoroughly cleaned before marinating with seasonings.

For the shrimp:

  1. Clean the shrimp thoroughly and place them in a basket to drain excess water.
  2. Remove the heads and devein the shrimp by pulling out the dark vein along the back. Clean the shrimp thoroughly.

After cleaning, immerse the shrimp in white rice wine for about 30 minutes. Then, remove them and let them drain.

For the glutinous rice mixture:

  1. Boil 2 tablespoons of glutinous rice powder with 200ml of water until the mixture turns clear and thick. Strain it and set it aside.

Step 2: Marinating with spices

After soaking the shrimp in rice wine, place them in a large bowl. Add galangal, garlic, and thinly sliced chili peppers. Season with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of salt, then mix well. Once the spices are evenly absorbed, add the cooked glutinous rice mixture and mix thoroughly.

Step 3: Making Authentic Hue-style Sour Shrimp

Prepare a transparent glass jar, and clean and dry it before use. Now, arrange the shrimp that have been marinated with spices completely in Step 2 into the jar, one by one. Finally, cover the top layer with young guava leaves, and then use bamboo strips or a rack to press down, ensuring that the ingredients do not float up during fermentation.

Let the jar of shrimp ferment for a period ranging from 1 week to 10 days. If you prefer a moderately sour taste, ferment the jar for about 7 days. For a more tangy flavor, you can extend the fermentation time to 9-10 days.

How to store Hue-style sour shrimp for an extended period while preserving its flavor:

After successfully fermenting the sour shrimp, you have a finished product that you've accomplished through all the steps.

In addition to preparation, proper storage is crucial. If stored

Value of Culinary Heritage:

Significance of Hue Sour Shrimp

Thua Thien Hue, a coastal province in Central Vietnam, with its intricate network of rivers and the vast sea, is a treasure trove of fresh seafood. Therefore, Hue shrimp is abundant and available year-round. River shrimp and freshwater shrimp are commonly found during the summer and autumn months, while March to May is the season for prawns. As a result, the shrimp season in Hue lasts nearly all year, and locals have developed many special dishes using shrimp, including the distinctive dish of Hue-style sour shrimp.

The significance of Hue sour shrimp lies in its representation of the rich culinary heritage of the region, showcasing the abundance of fresh and high-quality seafood available in the local waters. The dish reflects the connection between the people of Hue and their natural surroundings, highlighting the importance of seasonal ingredients and the skillful utilization of local resources. Additionally, it has become a culinary symbol of the region, demonstrating the creativity and expertise of the locals in turning fresh seafood into a delightful and unique delicacy. Hue sour shrimp not only satisfies the taste buds but also preserves and celebrates the culinary traditions that have been passed down through generations in this coastal province.

Hue-style Sour Shrimp is a harmonious blend of traditional and modern culinary excellence. The freshness of the shrimp combined with the spicy kick of chili creates a unique specialty from the Huong Ngự region, filled with a balanced blend of flavors that is unparalleled.

What is the best way to eat Hue Sour Shrimp?

Hue sour shrimp, a rustic and flavorful dish, always captured the hearts of the people in the Ancient Capital in their daily meals. The tangy taste of the shrimp, along with the spiciness from various spices, leaves a lasting impression on the soul of every diner from the very first taste.

Hue sour shrimp is often paired with hot rice, sticky rice, square glutinous rice cake (bánh chưng), vermicelli (bún), and more. However, the most authentic and delicious way to enjoy it is by combining sour shrimp with boiled meat and pickled vegetables. A bowl of warm white rice, a piece of freshly boiled meat infused with the aroma of sour shrimp, accompanied by pickled vegetables like cucumber, star fruit, banana flower, fresh herbs, and mint leaves... creates a unique culinary experience that delights and satisfies the palate of every diner.


Top 10 Addresses to buy delicious and reputable Hue Sour Shrimp

1. Cô Ri

Address: 184 Tang Bat Ho Street, Hue City.
Branch 1: Floor E, Dong Ba Market, Hue City.
Branch 2: Entrance of Dong Ba Market Bus Station.
Product Introduction Store: Entrance gate of Dong Ba Market.
Price Range: From 80,000 – 100,000 VND/jar.

2. Bà Duệ

Address: Chương Dương Street, Dong Ba Market, Hue City.

3. Nhật Phi

Address: 57 Dinh Cong Trang Street, Thuan Thanh Ward, Hue City.

4. Tâm Đức

Available at various markets and supermarkets in Hue.
Price: 100,000 VND/jar.

5. Tấn Lộc

Address: 39 Hai Ba Trung Street, Vinh Ninh Ward, Hue City.
The price range varies from 500,000 – 120,000 VND/jar, depending on the type and size.

6. Trọng Tín

Address: 21 Dang Tran Con Street, Hue City.
Price Range: Approximately 100,000 – 120,000 VND/jar.

7. Dì Cẩn

Available at various specialty stores in Hue.
Price starts from 60,000 VND/jar.

8. Tô Việt

Address: 95 Chi Lang Street, Phu Cat Ward, Hue City.
Price: 60,000 VND/jar.

9. Sông Hương

Available at various markets and supermarkets in Hue.
Price: 70,000 VND/jar.

10. Đông Ba Market

Address: 2 Tran Hung Dao Street, Hue City.
Dong Ba Market is a historic market in Hue, a paradise for food and gifts for tourists.

The Central region, and specifically Hue, is known for its charming, refined, and flavorful cuisine. Those who have experienced traditional Hue dishes will find it hard to forget the distinctive taste of Hue. If you have the opportunity to visit Hue, take some time to explore the culinary journey, and don't forget to taste the unique Hue-style sour shrimp at local restaurants. Also, remember to buy Hue-style sour shrimp as a culinary souvenir, as it encapsulates the essence of the region.