• Deana Thai

Deana’s Bánh Canh Tôm Cua

"Vietnamese Shrimp & Crab Udon" in thick pork slurry soup broth. Golden savory goodness served with chewy noodles!
Deana’s Bánh Canh Tôm Cua - Instagram @lifestyles_with_deana

My daughter’s favorite dish is a Vietnamese style rice based udon noodle soup! She always requests her grandma (my mom, ba ngoai) to make it when we visit! Of course ba ngoai obliges! She’s old enough to help make this dish and I can definitely use the help! It’s so much work, but so worth the extra effort. I just make a huge pot and eat it for days. And served with fresh herbs from my garden. I actually didn't grow up with this orangey thick version. My mom makes a clear broth with pork meatballs and fish patties. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties when I got a taste of this at a Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco in the Tenderloin neighborhood. I remember the flavors being so rich and broth being gorgeously thick! I cook like my mom and grandma, by taste. So if I find something I like, I recreate it at home! So I present to you my version of this savory thick slurry soup with handmade rice udon noodles!

Noodle Recipe (Chewy)

  • 2 bags tapioca (and extra for cutting)

  • 1 bag rice flour

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • HOT boiling water


Noodle Making Method

  1. Combine all dry ingredients together and mix with a whisk to incorporate ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

  2. Add a little hot boiling water from the kettle and mix flour at the same time. Keep adding a bit of hot boiling water and then mixing until dough is mostly coming together. At this point, begin to knead to test if dough will form a clean ball away from the mixing bowl. You want the consistency of play-dough. Don’t over wet, because it will be a sticky mess. Should that happen just add a tablespoon of tapioca starch at a time to dry dough out.

  3. Divide dough into baseball size balls and form a clean round ball. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent drying. Dust dough and roll each ball into ovals with a width of 4-inches and length of 7-9 inches. Dough should be less than a ¼ inch thick. Cut into ⅛ inch thick strands. Dust with tapioca before storing.

  4. To Cook: Add in hot boiling water. Stir to prevent noodles from sticking to the bottom. When noodles float, they are ready to be served.

  5. Noodles can be eaten immediately or stored in the fridge up to 1 week or packed in individual portions and frozen up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge the night before.


Note: There are no exact measurements for water in this case because depending on the flour supplier, each brand absorbs and reacts to water differently. We have to use our ancestor’s magical power of “eyeballing” it!

Meatball Recipe

  • 1 lb ground pork

  • 1 lb of minced shrimp

  • ¾ cup of crab meat

  • 1 egg

  • 2 tbsp of crab paste (plus extra)

  • 1 tsp salt (plus extra)

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • ½ tsp garlic powder

  • 1 tsp minced garlic

  • ¼ tsp black pepper (plus extra)

  • ¼ tsp white pepper

Meatball Method

Combine all ingredients, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use. The mixture can be frozen as well for later use.


Other Ingredients & Garnishes

  • 1 lb of whole shrimp

  • 1 lb of crab claws

  • 1-2 cans quail eggs

  • ½ lb fish patties (optional)

  • Fresh herbs of your choice (mints, French sorrel, basil, hot mint, cilantro, spring onions)

  • Fried shallots

  • Fried garlic

Broth Recipe (6 Quart Pot)

  • 2 lbs pork bones or ribs

  • 2-inch wide ginger

  • 5-6 Quarts Water

  • 1 tbsp Salt (Extra to taste)

  • 3-4 tbsp Chicken/Mushroom Bouillon

  • 1 tbsp Annatto Powder (okay to substitute with sweet paprika)

  • 1 stick of Palm Sugar

  • 1 tbsp Annatto Seed

  • ½ cup Olive Oil, plus 2 tbsp

  • 2 tbsp crab paste (Optional because it can make the broth look dirty. I don’t add to mine because I like a clear looking broth even though it’s a thick broth.)

  • ½ cup tapioca starch or more (depends on your preference of thickness)

  • ½ cup water

Broth Method

  1. Begin boiling water in a large stock pot.

  2. In another smaller pot, add bones/ribs. This is the initial boil to clean the bones and meat. Any blood or debri will wash off and leave the actual broth nice and clear. Boil for 10/15-minutes. Drain and rinse meat well. I scrub them really well under warm running water.

  3. Add the clean meats to the large stock pot. Add salt, chicken bouillon, ginger, palm sugar, and annatto seed powder. Bring to boil then reduce heat to medium low. Cook broth on medium-low for 2-hours. After 1-hour of cooking, take meatball mixture out of the fridge. Make 1.5 tablespoon meatball portions and drop them into the broth. Don’t let the broth boil, it will cause the crab meat to break off. The hot broth will cook the meatballs slowly and gently. They’ll float when ready. Add quail eggs. Broth will be ready in 2-hours total time. You’ll be able to smell the bones! Taste and add additional salt as needed.

  4. In a small saucepan combine annatto seeds and olive oil. Let simmer on low for 7-10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Don’t let it burn! Once the red-orangey color appears, remove seeds and add oil to the main stock pot. Reserve 2 tablespoons.

  5. While the broth is simmering and developing flavor; wash and prepare all fresh herbs and vegetables. Set aside.

  6. Lightly salt and pepper the shrimp and crab claws.

  7. In a large frying pan, add the reserved annatto oil plus another tablespoon olive oil. Heat pan on medium high. Add shrimp and crab claws. Stirring often so they don’t burn. Cook for 6-7 minutes. Turn off heat and cover for later use. (If you have raw fish patties, cook them separately as well.)

  8. Now that the broth has been simmering away, let’s thicken this liquid gold! Mix together the ½ cup tapioca starch and water. Slowly add to the stock pot while stirring at the same time. Give the broth a few minutes to thicken. If it’s not thick enough, make more starch and water mixture and add to broth. My suggestion is to do an additional ½ cup starch and water.

  9. Fill a pot with water large enough to cook noodles. Since the noodles are super starchy, be careful to not let it boil over. Wait for water to boil on high heat. Add noodles, when they float remove them from water and add to serving bowls.

  10. We are now ready to reap the rewards of our labor! That was a lot of work!

  11. After noodles are ready to go in their respective bowls, add meat and seafood. Ladle hot broth into the serving bowls. Garnish with fresh cilantro, spring onions, fried garlic pieces, and fried shallots. Serve fresh veggies and herbs on the side.

  12. I hope you enjoy my recipe! Enjoy it for days! Bon Appétit!


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