Banh Canh Cua Recipe

banh canh cua
Banh canh noodles are like Vietnamese udon–except unlike udon, it’s typically made with rice or tapioca flour (or a mixture of both) instead of wheat flour. The thickness of the noodle is roughly similar. The texture of the banh canh noodle depends on whether you’re using the tapioca flour or rice flour or a mixture of both. The tapoica flour banh canh will be almost clear when cooked with with a chewy consistency. The rice flour version is much less chewy. There are also multiple versions of banh canh, but the two most popular are banh canh cua (crab) and banh canh gio heo (pork ham hock). So you might find both of these in the restaurants. 

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


Banh Canh Cua
Printable Recipe

  • 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.

banh canh

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.

banh canh cua

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.

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56 Responses to “Banh Canh Cua Recipe”

  1. 1

    noobcook — January 20, 2010 @ 10:50 am

    Hope I get a chance to try this Vietnamese udon one day, it sounds yummy. Love the crab broth and seafood it's served in ^_^

  2. 2

    Julia — January 20, 2010 @ 11:59 am

    This looks great!

    You inspired me — I made the steamed rice rolls. They came out pretty well.

  3. 3

    Ju (The Little Teochew) — January 20, 2010 @ 12:00 pm

    What a luxurious one-bowl meal! I would like the tapioca flour version a little me 😉 You're both really amazing cooks!

  4. 4

    Table Talk — January 20, 2010 @ 2:14 pm

    Our Vietnamese restaurants are not like the ones we left behind in San Francisco. Thankfully we have a pretty good Asian market. Your blog is a great resource~when I have a craving I know where to look!
    Another delicious looking recipe here today :)

  5. 5

    KennyT — January 20, 2010 @ 2:16 pm

    Scrumptious!! Lots of seafood in this bowl of noodles, wanna have a sip of that beautiful soup!

  6. 6

    Ravenous Couple — January 20, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

    Noobcook: it's not a well known Vietnamese noodle soup, but great for the cold weather.

    Julia: So glad that the banh cuon turned out well for you!!

    Ju: yes, we love the chewy noodles too…

    Debi: As you can tell, it's not hard to recreate the flavors of Vietnam!

    KennyT: Thank you!

  7. 7

    5 Star Foodie — January 20, 2010 @ 2:36 pm

    What a delicious bowl! I love the shrimp and crab here with the noodles!

  8. 8

    Jessica@Foodmayhem — January 20, 2010 @ 3:57 pm

    If I had to choose one type of food to survive on all through winter, it would be noodle soups. You've influenced my lunch choice for today…gotta dig around to see what noodle soup I can make today!

  9. 9

    Fresh Local and Best — January 20, 2010 @ 5:02 pm

    This looks like a wonderfully savory and hearty seafood noodle soup. I've never used crab and soybean paste, I'll have to seek it out the next time I'm in Chinatown.

  10. 10

    Pink Panda — January 20, 2010 @ 5:10 pm

    Me like lots. Me will try when have money for seafood. Too broke right now. :D.

  11. 11

    Tiny Urban Kitchen — January 20, 2010 @ 5:51 pm

    It's cool to read about Vietnamese food and see how it's similar, but also so different from other Asian cuisines with which I am more familiar. I love fresh udon noodles! You're so lucky to have them so easily accessible!

  12. 12

    KimB — January 21, 2010 @ 12:38 am

    I am so excited about this recipe. My Aunt made this for me a few years back and I have yet to get her to give me the recipe! I love this blog. It's my absolute favorite for Vietnamese cooking. Thanks so much!!!

  13. 13

    Sook — January 21, 2010 @ 1:29 am

    Oh what a great recipe! Love your soup!

  14. 14

    girlfeedsboy — January 21, 2010 @ 4:56 am

    This looks fantastic. Truth be told, the draw is the crab for me! 😉

  15. 15

    Sarah the Bear — January 21, 2010 @ 4:57 pm

    This soup looks fresh and flavorful, yet hearty, too. Perfect for the weather we're having! Your recipes make me hungry!

  16. 16

    unpaused — January 21, 2010 @ 5:26 pm

    Sounds delicious! Looks it too. : )

  17. 17

    biz319 — January 21, 2010 @ 9:28 pm

    That looks amazing! I just started trying Vietnamese food – my first attempt was making a turkey meatball bahn mi sandwich – it was delicious!!

  18. 18

    Velva — January 22, 2010 @ 2:48 am

    This soup with its broth would be a crab lovers dream. Very nice.

  19. 19

    WizzyTheStick — January 22, 2010 @ 3:07 am

    I've got to get my hands on these noodles. They would be perfect for my son who is gluten intolerant.

  20. 20

    Joy — January 22, 2010 @ 3:14 pm

    I have never seen this dish before, but boy does it look good!!! Beautiful picture of the crab claws, it made my mouth water heh

  21. 21

    unpaused — January 22, 2010 @ 3:29 pm

    Hello! Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog. : )

    Ironically, this morning my Mother came in and asked me if you have to sao the crab and shrimp when you make Banh Canh Cua (because I was helping her friend do it last time she was at our house) and then Mother said she'll make some today. : )

  22. 22

    HoustonWok — January 23, 2010 @ 7:39 am


  23. 23

    pigpigscorner — January 23, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

    Sounds really good! Love chewy noodles.

  24. 24

    Pandalicious — January 24, 2010 @ 7:38 pm

    that looks scrumptious! perfect for this chilly weather.

  25. 25

    Michelle — January 25, 2010 @ 6:52 pm

    Thanks for dropping by my blog. I am absolutely IN LOVE with all the food and recipes! Booked marked for sure!

    One request recipe? The peanut sauce for spring rolls? Yum!


  26. 26

    Bonnibella — January 26, 2010 @ 10:49 pm

    Beautiful photos! There is only one place in San Francisco that does this dish right. Do you like adding pork blood to your recipe?

  27. 27

    Divina Pe — January 27, 2010 @ 9:53 am

    This is my kind of noodle soup. I would like to have a huge bowl of this.

  28. 28

    Kung Food Panda — January 28, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

    I can definitely use a bowl of banh canh cua this morning! :)

  29. 29

    Ravenous Couple — January 30, 2010 @ 7:20 pm

    Banh Canh Cua is definitely a great comforting soup. One day we'll make the Banh Canh Gio Heo and post that.

  30. 30

    Tammy — February 2, 2010 @ 12:49 am

    I think it may be a good idea to put a warning label in the header of your site, because for people like me who have less easy access to these ingredients, but know they love Vietnamese food, these sumptuous images and well-crafted descriptions are hard to handle. Lord have mercy, this is food porn!

    Thank goodness I will be in Westminster for VN New Year. Please tell me where I can get a good bowl of banh can cua there!

  31. 31

    Anonymous — March 9, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

    I made Banh Canh Cua following your recipe this weekend and it was delicious! Full of flavor and so easy to make! Thank you for sharing your recipes :)

  32. 32

    Anonymous — June 12, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

    I made this the other day using your pork broth method. I kept the ribs in the soup and left out the crab claws as I couldn't find any at the asian store. Also the fresh tapioca noodles I bought was about 1 1/2 lbs so I had to add extra water since it really thickened up the noodles quite a bit. The noodle soup was sooo good. I'm actually making again right now!

  33. 33

    Anonymous — July 29, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

    Can you please post a recipe on how to make the fresh tapicoa/rice flour combo noodles for banh canh? I lost my mother's recipe & I don't like using the pre-made store bought noodles, definitely not the same taste.

  34. 34

    dining room tables — October 12, 2010 @ 1:47 am

    This is something that is worth a try. Thanks a lot for sharing. This is so new to me.

  35. 35

    Gluten-Free Flour — November 14, 2011 @ 8:02 am

    Thank you for all these fantastic gluten free recipes! I will enjoy making them and sharing with friends.

  36. 36

    Jim K — November 20, 2011 @ 12:48 pm

    Another great recipe! Perfect for the cold weather and the holidays. I made it as per your directions, but went hybrid with the instructions I had on some store bought banh canh cua bullion cubes, which basically kept pieces of pork meat in the soup, and of course used the prepackaged spices. I found it tasted even better the next day as the shrimp and pork seemed to pick up more of the broth flavor. I used the refrigerated noodles and the tapioca mix as you described, and kept the noodles separate until serving, so that they would not get soggy with the leftovers. This is really just a fantastic tasting soup, highly recommended!

  37. 37

    Cindy B — December 1, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

    Thank you for your recipe! It totally hit the spot last night since it was so cold and windy. I posted a pic on my facebook, and got so many “likes” and uninvited guests. =)

  38. 38

    Bun Bo Hue Recipe — December 21, 2011 @ 9:11 am

    […] Asian market.  The rice noodles for bún bò Huế is also much thicker, just smaller than your banh canh or udon noodles. It should be cooked al dante, firm and just slightly chewy and not mushy soft. […]

  39. 39

    My Linh — July 10, 2012 @ 11:59 am

    Amazing!!! I’ve always wanted to make banh canh cua and I finally making it today. Sooooo good! Thank you!

  40. 40

    Valeri Nguyen — August 14, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

    I had a question about the noodles. I made some last night using both rice and tapioca flour. I was wondering how long it will last and what method of storage should I use? Will a food saver prolong its shelf life? Thanks!

  41. 41

    The Ravenous Couple — August 15, 2012 @ 6:17 am

    probably 2-3 days. when you cook the noodles in broth, it does decrease shelf life as apposed to cooking the noodles seperately

  42. 42

    Valeri Nguyen — August 15, 2012 @ 7:50 am

    Thanks for your response. My noodles are not cooked at all. Still in its flour dough state. How long will they last uncooked?

  43. 43

    The Ravenous Couple — August 15, 2012 @ 8:12 am

    oh, well, don’t know the brand of your noodles, but easily wk in the fridge

  44. 44

    Valeri Nguyen — August 15, 2012 @ 8:22 am

    I made them fresh. They’re not cooked yet. Can I keep it in the fridge orfreezer

  45. 45

    Foodstuff: Thai Crab Paste – Jack Hua Brand | Sybaritica — September 12, 2012 @ 9:05 pm

    […] Banh Canh Cua […]

  46. 46

    Thy — March 10, 2014 @ 10:05 pm

    Your blog came up a few times as I search for some authentic Viet recipes to make my parents when I visit them on my weekends off.

    It’s been years since I have been able to cook for them as they always tell me to go study. Well, schooling is finally done for me, so here I am–making a few dinners to show case my other talents (lol)!

    Thank you so much for your recipes! I can’t wait to try the rest and cook for my fiance too!

    Best regards and keep up the great work for all (the 2nd gen. Viet kids and also anyone who loves good food).

  47. 47

    Vu — March 11, 2014 @ 2:16 pm

    Wow! Came across this recipe while scoping out all your other awesome offerings. Will definitely be making this soon.

    How many people would you say this feeds?

  48. 48

    Bob — December 31, 2014 @ 10:20 pm

    One of my local Vietnamese places makes this with fried soft shell crabs. It’s incredible. Love the texture of those noodles.

  49. 49

    MG — January 3, 2015 @ 11:11 am

    Hello – Curious as to where you buy your fresh banh canh from in Little Saigon.

  50. 50

    The Ravenous Couple — January 14, 2015 @ 2:20 pm

    just the noodles only? try taiko on bolsa and magnolia, they make their own noodles fresh.

  51. 51

    Chicory App — May 21, 2015 @ 8:57 pm

    This recipe reminds me of the good old days back in Vietnam :) Banh canh is always so satisfying.
    Great recipes you have here! Are you interested in becoming Chicory App’s official recipe partners?

  52. 52

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