Bánh Canh Cua is a crab noodle soup dish that’s quite popular in Vietnam. The noodles are hand made with tapioca starch – they look very similar to udon noodles, but are slightly chewier. The noodles are cooked right in the broth which gives the broth a thick consistency more similar to a stew broth. My mom always used store bought udon noodles instead when she made this dish, probably because it was pretty easy to find in grocery stores and she thickened the broth with cornstarch. You can buy bánh canh noodles at Vietnamese grocery stores—I noticed that most of them were made with wheat and rice flour which is pretty similar to udon noodles – if you’re looking for something similar to what you’d get in Vietnam look for one that lists tapioca starch as an ingredient.
To streamline this recipe, I use lump crab meat instead of harvesting the meat from whole crabs and lobster bouillon to give it a rich seafood flavor; this may be a little hard to find in stores so you can order Better Than Bouillon Lobster Base here. I also add ground annatto powder to give the broth a lovely red color without effecting the flavor. I found the annatto powder at a Mexican grocery store, but you can also order it here. You can customize this dish with all your favorite seafood items, add fish cake, crab claws or even lobster tails – it’s a bright and vibrant dish that’s absolutely delicious!