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Banh Canh Cua in a bowl with a dish of chilis and half a lime above
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5 from 6 votes

Banh Canh Cua (Crab Tapioca Noodle Soup)

This Banh Canh Cua recipe is an explosion of fresh crab flavor and slippery tapioca noodles! With a thick seafood broth, it's a gem everyone should try!
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Stock Cooking Time3 hrs 30 mins
Total Time6 hrs 10 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Asian, Vietnamese
Servings: 10
Calories: 1356kcal
Author: Jeannette

Equipment

  • Sieve

Ingredients

The Broth

  • 10 L / 41 US cups chicken and pork stock
  • 800 g / 1.8 lb daikon (peeled)
  • 400 g / 0.9 lb jicama (peeled)
  • 30 g / 0.07 lb dried squid (found in Asian supermarkets)
  • 70 g / 0.15 lb dehydrated scallops (found in Asian supermarkets)
  • 500 g / 1.1 lb frozen crab meat (we buy it from our local seafood shop)
  • 2 tbsp annatto seeds (found in Asian supermarkets)
  • 1 tbsp oil (for the annatto seeds)
  • 70 g rock sugar (or to taste)
  • 6 tbsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 US cup fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chicken bouillon powder
  • 1/2 US cup potato starch (for the starch slurry)
  • 1/4 US cup water (for the starch slurry)

The Toppings

  • 1 pork hoc (ask the butcher to cut it into smaller pieces)
  • 1 crab (or more)
  • 1 box blood jelly (optional)

The Prawn Balls

  • 20 fresh prawns (peeled and deveined)
  • 1 red shallot (finely chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 sprig spring onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp oil (for frying aromatics)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • cooking oil (for frying)

The Noodles and Garnish

  • 2 kg / 4.4 lb Banh Canh tapioca noodles (found in Asian grocery stores)
  • coriander (finely chopped)
  • spring onion (finely chopped)
  • fried onions
  • pepper
  • lime juice

Instructions

The Broth

  • Add the pork hoc to the stock and cook it on a low-medium heat.
  • Bring the stock to a gentle simmer, then grill the dried squid and put them into the broth.
  • Cut up the jicama and daikon into large chunks.
  • Turn up the heat to high and add the jicama, daikon and dehydrated scallops into the soup.
  • After 40 minutes of cooking or when soft, take the hoc pieces out and set aside.
    Note: If you're using boneless pork, they can be sliced thinly to be used as a topping.
  • Pour 1 tbsp oil into a small pan and turn the heat to low. Add the annatto seeds in and cook for 1 minute or until its color begins to change.
    Note: You're looking for the oil to turn red, which will color the Banh Canh Cua broth.
  • Use a sieve to strain the annatto-infused oil into the broth, then season with salt, rock sugar, fish sauce and chicken bouillon powder.

The Prawn Balls and Crab

  • Heat up a small pan on medium heat and brown the garlic, red shallots and spring onions with 1 tbsp oil. Set it aside to cool.
  • Combine the fried aromatics with salt, sugar, chicken bouillon powder, pepper, fish sauce and the prawns in a food processor, then process the ingredients into a paste.
  • Heat up the oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Shape the paste into balls 2cm (0.8") wide using spoons or hands and fry them for 5 minutes on each side or until golden and cooked.
  • Bring the pot to a gentle boil and add the prawn balls into the broth.
  • Add the frozen crab meat in.
  • Cut up the crab and place them in the soup to cook for 15 minutes or until the flesh is cooked, then remove and set aside until eating time.
  • To thicken the soup, mix the starch slurry in a bowl until it forms a runny liquid. Slowly pour it into the broth on a low heat while stirring the pot consistently.

The Noodles and Garnish

  • Bring another pot of water to a boil and add the banh canh in. These noodles are already cooked, so they will only need 3-5 minutes before they can be strained and set to drip dry.
  • To assemble the dish, line the bottom of your bowl with tapioca noodles then top it with the pork hoc, fried prawn balls, crab and blood jelly. Pour hot soup over the ingredients and garnish with herbs and a squeeze of lime juice!

Notes

  • Use fresh crab. Not only will this naturally sweeten the broth, you’ll also get a rich crab flavor that can’t be achieved using frozen ones.
  • Slap the prawn paste against a hard surface. For a springier bite, take the prawn paste in your hand and throw it against the inside of the bowl or a chopping board a few times to give it a springy texture when cooked.
  • Chargrill the vegetables. Keep the skin on and lightly char them until they blacken, then peel off the skin before adding to the broth. This technique gives the soup an added dimension.
  • We use pork hoc, but you can use any cut you prefer. This recipe also uses mud crab, although getting just the claw might be easier because it involves less prep.
  • You may find many types of fresh prawns at your local seafood market. Keep in mind that some are saltier than others, so season accordingly. Otherwise our Banh Canh Cua recipe can be serve with Chao Tom (Sugar Cane Shrimp).
  • Tapioca noodles, dehydrated squid and scallops, coriander and spring onion can be purchased from Asian grocery stores.
  • You can find frozen crab meat in seafood markets in the freezers. They're generally a better quality than the ones sold in supermarkets.

Nutrition

Calories: 1356kcal | Carbohydrates: 224g | Protein: 62g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 215mg | Sodium: 7061mg | Potassium: 1598mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 264IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 148mg | Iron: 3mg