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  • Writer's pictureDeana Thai

Instant Pot Bánh Canh Tôm Cua

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

"Vietnamese Shrimp & Crab Udon" in thick pork slurry soup broth. Golden savory goodness served with handmade chewy noodles! (6 or 8-Quart Instant Pot)
Vietnamese Shrimp & Crab Udon
Deana’s Bánh Canh Tôm Cua - Instagram @lifestyles_with_deana

My daughter’s favorite dish is a Vietnamese style tapioca and 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. After a night of clubbing from my bachelorette party. 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 tapioca and rice udon noodles!

I have left optional proteins below. If you love pork and crab meatballs, the recipe is available below. I change up what proteins I serve my family to have variety. Cooked fried fish cakes are available at the Asian market as well as fish paste. You can buy the pre-made or use the fish paste available at the butcher's section. Or you can easily blanch cook whole shrimp, crab and lobster! Fried fish balls for hotpot is also a great option. Do what you want to make it easier for you to make home cooked meals for you family.

Side Note: It's gluten free for those who are allergic to wheat flour!

Airing on YouTube January 1st, 2021 at 5pm Pacific Standard Time (PST)

Noodle Recipe (Chewy, Serves 8-10)

  • 2 bags tapioca/ 4.5 cups (and extra for dusting and cutting)

  • 1 bag rice flour/ 2 cups

  • 2 tsp salt

  • 2 tsp sugar

  • 5 1/2 cups HOT boiling water (add as you work, must be boiling hot)

Noodle Making Method

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

  2. Add 4 cups hot boiling water from the kettle and mix flour at the same time. Keep adding a 1/2 cup of hot boiling water and then mixing until dough is mostly coming together. You may or may not use up to 5.5 cups of hot boiling water. Different brands of rice flour absorb varying amounts of water. Once the dough has cooled down and is still warm, begin kneading 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. Rest dough for 30-minutes. 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. Or vice versa. 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, cook for another 1-2 and then 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! I did measure out approximately how much water and flour you'll need. Add boiling hot water a bit at a time near the end as you work to not over wet the dough. Should not be sticky at all. If you dough crumbles or breaks apart, your water was not hot enough. Dough should be elastic not crumbly.

Meatball Recipe (Optional Protein)

  • 1 lb ground pork

  • 1 lb of minced shrimp

  • 1 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, Proteins & Garnishes

  • Extra salt for blanching/pre-boil rinse

  • 1-2 lbs of whole shrimp

  • 1 lb of crab claws

  • Lobsters (amount you want to serve, optional)

  • 1-2 cans quail eggs (optional)

  • ½ lb pre-cooked fish patties/balls (optional)

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

  • Fried shallots

  • Fried garlic

Broth Recipe (6 Quart Pot, Serves 8-10)

  • 3-4 lbs pork bones or ribs

  • 2-inch wide ginger

  • 5 Quarts Water

  • 1 tbsp Salt

  • 1/3 cup Chicken/Mushroom Bouillon

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

  • 1/2 stick of Palm Sugar or substitute with 1/4 packed brown sugar or 3 tbsp white sugar

  • 2 tbsp Annatto Seed

  • ½ cup Olive Oil

  • 1/3 cup crab paste (umani flavor)

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

  • ½ cup water

Broth Recipe (8 Quart Pot Instant Pot, Serves 10-12)

  • 4-6 lbs pork bones or ribs

  • 2-inch wide ginger

  • 6-7 Quarts Water (plus more after pressure cooking)

  • 2 tbsp Salt (Extra to taste)

  • 1/2 cup Chicken/Mushroom Bouillon

  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika/annatto powder (okay to substitute with sweet paprika)

  • 1 stick of Palm Sugar or substitute with 1/3 packed brown sugar or 1/4 cup white sugar

  • 2 tbsp Annatto Seed

  • ½ cup olive/veggie oil

  • 1/4 cup crab paste (umani flavor)

  • ¾ 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. (For stove top cooking.)

  2. In another smaller pot, add bones/ribs and 2 teaspoons salt. This is the initial boil to clean the bones and meat. Any blood or debris 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. For Stove Top Cooking: Begin aromatics by adding oil to the pot, ginger and paprika. Set heat to medium low and let paprika and ginger sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add amount of water needed for the recipe amount you are making. Either for the 6 or 8 quart pot. Add clean meats to the large stock pot. Add salt, chicken bouillon, and palm sugar. Bring to boil then reduce heat to medium low. Cook broth on medium-low for 2-hours. Adding 1-quart of water per hour to compensate for evaporation. If making meatballs, 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. If using quail eggs, add quail eggs. Broth will be ready in 2-hours total time. Then add the tapioca starch slurry to thicken the broth. You’ll be able to smell the bones! Taste and add additional salt as needed.

  4. For INSTANT POT Cooking: Set on SAUTÉ mode, add oil to pot, ginger and paprika. Once the pot heats up, add water to the half way mark. Add in clean pork bones/ribs. Add sugar, salt and chicken bouillon. Secure lid, set on soup/stew mode, and set timer for 30-minutes. Quick release. If making meatballs, set mode to sauté, bring broth to a boil and drop meatballs in. When they float, they are ready. Add quail eggs at this time if using them. Turn off sauté mode. Cover and keep warm till it's time to serve. (Note: You can cook small amounts of meatballs since our pot is smaller than a stock pot.)

  5. In a small saucepan combine annatto seeds and olive/vegetable oil. Let simmer on low for 3 -5 minutes or until color develop. Stir occasionally. Don’t let it burn! Once the red-orangey color appears, turn off heat, remove seeds and add oil to the main stock pot.

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

  7. Blanching Seafood: In a separate pot, add water and 2 teaspoons salt. Add seafood and let them warm up along with the water. Once they change from translucent to opaque and curl, they are done. Place in ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain and keep in fridge until it's time to serve.

  8. Now that the broth has been simmering away, let’s thicken this liquid gold! Mix together the 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. Replace water and repeat.

  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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