Vietnamese Tomato Crab Soup (Canh riêu cua)

From the mini crabs in the paddy fields across the country, Vietnamese people have made various delicious dishes. Besides Vietnamese Crab Noodle (Bún riêu cua), Vietnamese tomato crab soup (canh riêu cua) is a rustic dish served with rice in everyday life. Let’s discover how to cook it.

Vietnamese tomato crab soup, canh riêu cua
Vietnamese tomato crab soup (canh riêu cua nấu cà chua)

What is freshwater mini crab (cua đồng)

We all know that Vietnam is a tropical country and one of the largest rice exporting countries in the world. Rice is grown all over the country, and the ripe rice fields are a beautiful image of my hometown that I always love. Those paddy fields are also the perfect environment for freshwater crabs, or cua đồng in Vietnamese, to grow. Therefore, Vietnamese people are so familiar with freshwater mini crabs and turn them into many delicious dishes.

So, what are freshwater mini crabs, or cua đồng? They are small crabs living in freshwater areas, from plains to midlands and mountainous regions. Because they are quite small, people often pound or grind the crabs finely, then mix them with water, filter the water, and remove the hard shells. The remaining liquid is then used in cooking.

How does the Vietnamese tomato crab soup taste?

According to traditional Eastern medicine, freshwater field crabs have a cooling property. Indeed, tomato crab soup is a great dish for summer because of its fresh taste from both fresh tomato and crabs.

My family likes to enjoy crab soup with rice all year round, especially on hot summer days to cool down.

Ingredients of Vietnamese tomato crab soup

The ingredients of this dish are very simple with tomato, freshwater mini crabs, and a handful of spring onions and coriander to garnish. For 4 people, you can follow the recipe below:

  • 300g (10.5 oz) freshwater mini crabs
  • 700ml (23.7 fl oz) water
  • 1 small shallot
  • 3 big tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • A handful of chopped spring onion and coriander

Cooking Instruction

In general, half of the cooking process of tomato crab soup is like Vietnamese crab noodle soup yet simpler and quicker. Let’s start:

Step 1. Preparing crab mixture

  • After washing & removing crab shells and aprons (if you buy frozen crabs, they are ready to cook so you don’t need to do this step), blend them with water and a pinch of salt. A blender will help to save lots of your time; otherwise, you can also follow the traditional way by pounding the crab in a mortar. Filter the crab mixture to remove the crab shells.
preparing crab mixture to make vietnamese tomato crab soup

Step 2. Stir-frying tomato

  • Wash and cut tomatoes into wedges. Slice shallot thinly.
cut tomato into wedges to cook soup
  • In a pot, stir fry tomatoes with shallots. If any, add crab tomalley (so-called crab fat, crab roe) to stir fry together with tomatoes, until all are cooked well.
stir fry tomato with crab roe, making vietnamese tomato crab soup
Stir fry tomato with crab tomalley (crab roe)

Step 3. Cooking the crab soup

  • Pour the crab mixture into the pot and lower the heat to medium-low. Don’t stir and wait until the mixture starts to boil so that the crab paste can form into lumps and float on the surface.
cooking vietnamese tomato crab soup
  • When serving Vietnamese crab soup, gently scoop the crab paste out of the pot and transfer to the bowl, then the rest. Garnish the soup with chopped spring onion and coriander. It’s done!
vietnamese tomato crab soup, canh riêu cua nấu cà chua

Possible alternatives for tomato in this dish

Besides tomato, we can cook crab soup with many more vegetables. Some common alternatives are jute leaves (rau đay), malabar spinach (mồng tơi), or sponge gourd (mướp). These are all familiar ingredients in Vietnamese cuisine.

Can canned crab paste replace fresh crabs?

Canned crab paste is a great alternative for fresh mini crabs to make tomato crab soup or crab noodle. However, from my experience, the flavor and taste of tomato crab soup made from canned crab paste is quite different from those made with fresh crabs. It’s because fresh crabs bring a distinctive flavor and aroma to the soup base.

vietnamese tomato crab soup, canh riêu cua nấu cà chua
Vietnamese tomato crab soup, canh riêu cua

Vietnamese Tomato Crab Soup (Canh riêu cua)

Besides Vietnamese Crab Noodle (Bún riêu cua), Vietnamese tomato crab soup (canh riêu cua) is a rustic dish served with rice in everyday life.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Keyword: canh rieu cua, tomato crab soup, vietnamese tomato crab soup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 125kcal
Author: Mia Pham

Ingredients

  • 300g (10.5 oz) freshwater mini crabs
  • 700ml (23.7 fl oz) water
  • 1 small shallot
  • 3 big tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • A handful of chopped spring onion and coriander

Instructions

Step 1. Preparing crab mixture

  • After washing & removing crab shells and aprons (if you buy frozen crabs, they are ready to cook so you don’t need to do this step), blend them with water and a pinch of salt. A blender will help to save lots of your time; otherwise, you can also follow the traditional way by pounding the crab in a mortar. Filter the crab mixture to remove the crab shells.
    preparing crab mixture to make vietnamese tomato crab soup

Step 2. Stir-frying tomato

  • Wash and cut tomatoes into wedges. Slice shallot thinly.
    cutting tomato into wedges to cook tomato crab soup
  • In a pot, stir fry tomatoes with shallots. If any, add crab tomalley (so-called crab fat, crab roe) to stir fry together with tomatoes, until all are cooked well.
    stir fry tomato with crab roe, making vietnamese tomato crab soup

Step 3. Cooking the crab soup

  • Pour the crab mixture into the pot and lower the heat to medium-low. Don’t stir and wait until the mixture starts to boil so that the crab paste can form into lumps and float on the surface.
    cooking vietnamese tomato crab soup
  • When serving Vietnamese crab soup, gently scoop the crab paste out of the pot and transfer to the bowl, then the rest. Garnish the soup with chopped spring onion and coriander. It’s done!
    Vietnamese tomato crab soup, canh riêu cua

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 200g | Calories: 125kcal

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