Vietnamese Shrimp and Crab Thick Noodle

Vietnamese cuisine has various types of noodles. While pho and vermicelli noodles are more familiar, thick noodle (bánh canh) is also a favorite among Vietnamese and can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Let me share with you the recipe for one of the most popular variations of thick noodle with shrimp and crab, known as “bánh canh tôm cua.”

vietnamese shrimp and crab thick noodle, bánh canh tôm cua, banh canh tom cua, banh canh cua

What is Thick Noodle?

Sợi bánh canh (thick noodle) is another type of rice noodle widely used in Vietnam. It is about 30-50 mm wide and 20-40 mm thick, ranging from flat to round, resembling wide, chewy ribbons. The components of thick noodle can include rice flour, tapioca starch, or a mixture of both rice and tapioca starch. These ingredients create the variations of Vietnamese thick noodles, such as rice flour thick noodle (bánh canh bột gạo), tapioca starch thick noodle (bánh canh bột năng), and wheat flour thick noodle (bánh canh bột mì). The softness comes from the rice or wheat flour, while the tapioca starch adds chewiness to the noodle. Depending on the amount of tapioca starch, the texture of the noodle can be soft (less or no tapioca starch), slightly chewy, or very chewy (more tapioca starch). I’m into slightly chewy thick noodle, as it balances the softness and chewiness. 

In Vietnam, you can easily find fresh thick noodles in markets or supermarkets. However, outside of the country, dried thick noodles may be the best option; otherwise, a good substitute is udon noodles. Udon noodles have a similar appearance and texture to Vietnamese thick noodles and are made from wheat flour. Fortunately, udon noodles are popular worldwide and can easily be purchased from an Asian market.

udon noodles, replaces thick noodles in banh canh cua

In another post, I did a comparison between the types of Vietnamese noodles, icluding thick noodle. You can read it here

Variations

With thick noodle as the base, you can combine different types of protein and broth (pork, shrimp, crab, fish) to create many variations. Here are some of the most common ones: pork & shrimp thick noodle (bánh canh tôm thịt), snakehead fish thick noodle (bánh canh cá lóc), crab thick noodle (bánh canh cua), and crab & shrimp thick noodle (bánh canh tôm cua). Let’s learn how to make crab & shrimp thick noodle with the recipe and instructions below.

topping for banh canh tom cua
Toppings of bánh canh tôm cua: crab claws and shrimp.

Vietnamese Shrimp and Crab Thick Noodle Recipe

Here’s my recipe for 4 bowls of thick noodle, ideal for a family meal:

  • 8 crab claws, or 2 whole crabs
  • 400g (13 oz) shrimp
  • 1 large shallot
  • 4 packs of udon noodles
  • 2 liters of water
  • 7-10 shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp annatto oil
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch mixed with 1 tbsp water
  • A handful of chopped coriander & spring onion
  • Condiments: salt, fish sauce, sugar, black pepper

Instructions

Step 1. Preparation

  • Soak the shiitake mushrooms in water for 15-20 minutes until they absorb enough water, then thinly slice them.
vietnamese crab soup sup cua
  • Wash the shrimp and crab carefully to remove impurities on their shells.
  • Soak udon noodles in cold water mixed with a bit of baking soda to reduce the noodles’ acidity if you buy packs of premade udon noodles. Rinse several times, then blanch in boiling water to heat them up.
soaking udon noodles to reduce acidity, used in banh canh tom cua
  • If using dried udon noodles, boil them according to the instructions on the package.

Step 2. Making Fried Shallot and Shallot Oil

crispy fried asian shallots

Step 3. Cooking Shrimp and Crab

  • First, prepare the shrimp. After washing the shrimp 2-3 times, remove the shells and heads but don’t discard them; they’ll be used to cook the broth later.
vietnamese shrimp and crab thick noodle, bánh canh tôm cua
  • Use the shallot oil to fry shrimp and shrimp shells. Remove the shrimp and set aside on a plate. Add the onion oil and shrimp shells to a pot with 1.5 liters of water and simmer over medium heat.
vietnamese shrimp and crab thick noodle, bánh canh tôm cua
  • When the water boils, add crab claws to boil. After about 5-7 minutes, once the water boils again, remove them from the water and immediately soak them in icy or cold water to stop the cooking process.
banh canh tom cua, vietnamese shrimp and crab thick noodle broth
  • If you use the whole crabs, creak the crab (except the claws) and use a small spoon or crab picks to extract the crab meat. Use the crab meat as a toppings for your bowl. With the claws, you can extract the meat in advance, or serve the full claws, then enjoy cracking and extracting the meat while eating.

Step 4. Seasoning the Broth

  • Season the broth with 1 tbsp of salt, 1 tbsp of fish sauce, and 1/2 tbsp of sugar, adjusting to taste. Finally, add 2 tbsp of annatto oil, mix 1 tbsp of tapioca starch with 1 tbsp of water, and pour into the pot to thicken the broth.
tapioca starch mixture to thicken the broth of banh canh tom cua
Mix tapioca starch with water, then pour into the broth to thicken it.
  • Serve in a bowl, garnished with finely chopped cilantro & spring onion, fried shallot.
vietnamese shrimp and crab thick noodle, bánh canh tôm cua
vietnamese shrimp and crab thick noodle, bánh canh tôm cua, banh canh tom cua, banh canh cua

Vietnamese Shrimp and Crab Thick Noodle (Bánh Canh Tôm Cua)

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Thick noodle is also a favorite dish among Vietnamese and can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Here's its popular variations with shrimp and crab.

Ingredients

  • 8 crab claws, or 2 whole crabs
  • 400g (13 oz) shrimp
  • 1 large shallot
  • 4 packs of udon noodles
  • 2 liters of water
  • 7-10 shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp annatto oil
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch mixed with 1 tbsp water
  • A handful of chopped coriander & spring onion
  • Condiments: salt, fish sauce, sugar, black pepper

Instructions

Step 1. Preparation

  • Soak the shiitake mushrooms in water for 15-20 minutes until they absorb enough water, then thinly slice them.vietnamese crab soup sup cua
  • Wash the shrimp and crab carefully to remove impurities on their shells. After washing the shrimp 2-3 times, remove the shells and heads but don't discard them; they'll be used to cook the broth later.vietnamese shrimp and crab thick noodle, bánh canh tôm cua
  • Soak udon noodles in cold water mixed with a bit of baking soda to reduce the noodles' acidity if you buy packs of premade udon noodles. Rinse several times, then blanch in boiling water to heat them up.soaking udon noodles to reduce acidity, used in banh canh tom cua
  • If using dried udon noodles, boil them according to the instructions on the package.

Step 2. Making Fried Shallot and Shallot Oil

Step 3. Cooking Shrimp and Crab

  • Use the shallot oil to fry shrimp and shrimp shells. Remove the shrimp and set aside on a plate. Add the onion oil and shrimp shells to a pot with 1.5 liters of water and simmer over medium heat.vietnamese shrimp and crab thick noodle, bánh canh tôm cua
  • When the water boils, add crab claws to boil. After about 5-7 minutes, once the water boils again, remove them from the water and immediately soak them in icy or cold water to stop the cooking process.banh canh tom cua, vietnamese shrimp and crab thick noodle broth
  • If you use the whole crabs, creak the crab (except the claws) and use a small spoon or crab picks to extract the crab meat. Use the crab meat as a toppings for your bowl. With the claws, you can extract the meat in advance, or serve the full claws, then enjoy cracking and extracting the meat while eating. topping for banh canh tom cua

Step 4. Seasoning the Broth

  • Season the broth with 1 tbsp of salt, 1 tbsp of fish sauce, and 1/2 tbsp of sugar, adjusting to taste. Finally, add 2 tbsp of annatto oil, mix 1 tbsp of tapioca starch with 1 tbsp of water, and pour into the pot to thicken the broth.tapioca starch mixture to thicken the broth of banh canh tom cuaMix tapioca starch with water, then pour into the broth to thicken it.
  • Serve in a bowl, garnished with finely chopped cilantro & spring onion, fried shallot.vietnamese shrimp and crab thick noodle, bánh canh tôm cua

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 600g
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 450

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2 Comments

  1. filo44@gmail.com

    Hello, your website is very useful and informative. Thank you!

  2. filo33@outlook.com

    Hello, I will recommend your website to all my friends and family.

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