Typically the tapioca flour version pairs with the banh canh cua and because of the tapioca flour, imparts a much thicker consistency to the broth. It’s also not a super long noodle but short segments about 2 inches or so with tapered ends, easily eaten with just a soup spoon. The rice flour version pairs with the banh canh gio heo and does not have the thick consistency. These noodles are sold as dried noodles and precooked in the refrigerator section of your Asian grocer. If you can’t find them substitute with udon!
Our version of banh canh cua is from my dear Aunt Nine and uses almost the same ingredients as bun rieu so we made this after our bun rieu ran out. The key ingredient in this soup is the crab paste in soy bean oil below which is used to saute the crab and shrimp and provides flavor to the broth as well as color. Normally we would used precooked banh canh noodles, but we discovered some fresh banh canh noodles made from mixture of rice and tapioca flour at a local market in Little Saigon and tried it out. Again, we used our generic pork stock. If you’re short on time, substitute with chicken stock.
Banh Canh Cua
- 12 cups of pork stock
- 2 tablespoons of crab paste in soy bean oil
- 1 lb of large deveined shrimp
- 1 lb of premade shrimp balls (optional and found in refrigerated section of Asian grocer)
- 12-14 cooked crab claws
- 1 cup of crab meat (fresh or canned), but the more the better
- 1 tablespoon of chopped shallots
- 1 tablespoon of garlic
- 1/2 ts salt
- 1/2 ts pepper
- tapioca mixture (1 cup water and 2 tbs tapioca flour, mix well)
- 1 lb of fresh banh canh or 2 packets of cooked banh canh (use tapoica flour version- for chewier texture)
- bean sprouts, chopped green onion, chopped cilantro, lime wedges
Heat the stock and in the meantime, in a large pan, heat 1/2 tablespoon of oil and sautee garlic and shallots. Once they begin to brown, add shrimp, crab meat and crab paste in soy bean oil, salt and pepper. Be careful not to break a part the crab meat too much and cook until shrimp is done. Add this mixture to the pork broth/chicken stock.
Bring the broth to boil and slowly add a few tbs of tapioca mixture to the broth to thicken. Be patient and don’t add all at once or else it’ll get too thick (if you’re using fresh noodles, you can skip this step–boil the noodles in the broth which will cook the noodles and thicken the broth at the same time). Add the shrimp balls and crab claws at the end since those are already cooked. Make final seasoning adjustments to the broth.
If you have the packages of precooked banh canh, boil water and place banh canh noodles in for about 2 minutes and drain.
Top with some chopped scallions and cilantro. We just love beans sprouts with our soups so we add that. The consistency of this soup is thicker than most and you can’t see the chunks of crab meat since it sank to the bottom.. but trust us, there was plenty of crab meat. It’s a another great Vietnamese crab noodle soup that you can make along with bun rieu.