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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sup banh canh cua (Crab meat soup with Prawn dumplings)

Clearly, noodles and soups are very popular among Vietnamese people. Growing up in Vietnam, we where very blessed to have various hawker stall vendors just outside our doorsteps. With each vendor specialising in a particular dish and recipes that has being handed down from one generation to the next. As you walk by each vendor, the aroma would entice your senses and induce you to stop by. And perhaps hand over some money for sample of their offering. Without a doubt, banh canh cua is definitely one of my weakness and will have me reaching into my pocket every time I walk by. Banh canh cua is an aromatic crab meat noodle soup, which has been thicken slightly with tapioca starch and it's among one of my favourite noodle soups. I learnt this recipe for Sandra's mum, whom is without a doubt in my opinion, one of the most knowledgeable people in Vietnamese cuisine. I have played around and made a few minor adjustments to the original recipe. As I have said before, I believe recipe should only be used as a guideline. Hope you give a try and perhaps put your own spin on it. This soup is packed with flavour and has a luxuriously silken texture. It's brilliant as a main or can easily be made into a starter or entree size soup. Serve it which ever way you like, it's delicious that I promise you.


3 ltrs of chicken stock
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp annatto seeds
2 cup crab meat, or can crab lump meat.
2 egg
1 bag of fresh banh canh (tapioca udon noodles)

Prawn dumplings

1/2 kg prawns, shell remove and deviened
6 shallot, white stem
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper, grounded


bean sprouts
crispy fried eshallots
white pepper
lemon wedges


To make the prawn dumplings

1. Remove shell, head and devein the prawns. Frozen prawns are also great because the work is already done for you.
2. With the flat side of a clever, smash the prawns a couple at a time and set aside.
3. Chop and add the shallot to a mortar with the salt and white pepper. Pound to a rough paste and add in the prawns. Pound for a couple of minutes to until it becomes a uniform prawn paste.
4. Put into a container and refrigerate until needed.

To make the soup

1. Put the annatto seeds in a large bowl and add a cup of boiling water. Set aside for an hour to let the colour infuse into the water.
2. Bring the chicken stock to a boil.
3. With a tablespoon, scoop the prawn paste into a ball and drop it into the chicken stock. repeat with as many as needed
4. Strain in the annatto water, add to the stock and stir in the crab meat. Season with sugar and fish sauce, adjust seasoning to taste.

To serve

1. Beat the eggs lightly and set aside.
2. Bring soup to a boil and drop in the udon noodles. Stir a couple of time to separate and prevent the udon noodles from sticking to each other. (cut udon noodles into 1 inch long if serving as an entree or starter). The starch coating the udon noodles will thicken the soup slightly.
3. While stirring, drizzling slowly in a thin stream the beaten eggs into the soup to create what is called an egg flower.
4. To serve, add a little bean sprouts to a bowl and top up with the soup.
5. Enjoy with freshly cracked pepper and a touch lemon juice. To finish, sprinkle on some crispy fried eshallots, chopped coriander and spring onions.

Note: I like to use fresh banh canh udon noodle, it has a coating of tapioca flour on it (unlike Vietnamese banh canh udon noodles). It not only thickens the soup but to me has a softer and more silken texture.


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