Instant Pot Vietnamese Crab & Shrimp Udon Noodle Soup (Bánh Canh Cua Tôm)

June 27, 2018Van
Blog post

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Serves: 6

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!

Instant Pot Vietnamese Crab and Shrimp Udon Noodle Soup Recipe - Bánh Canh Cua Tôm Instant Pot Vietnamese Crab and Shrimp Udon Noodle Soup Recipe - Bánh Canh Cua Tôm Instant Pot Vietnamese Crab and Shrimp Udon Noodle Soup Recipe - Bánh Canh Cua Tôm

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Instant Pot Vietnamese Crab & Shrimp Udon Noodle Soup (Bánh Canh Cua Tôm)

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Serves: 6


  • 1 Pound Lump Crab Meat, (they sell 1 lbs containers at Costco)
  • 2 Pounds Raw Shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 Pounds Pounds Pork Ribs or Pork Neck Bones or Chicken Drumsticks
  • 10 Cups Water
  • 4 Large Shallots
  • 1 Carrot, roughly chopped
  • 5 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 5 Teaspoons Kosher Salt, divided
  • 5 Teaspoons Granulated Sugar, divided
  • 4 Teaspoons + 1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Annatto Powder
  • 1½ Tablespoons Better Than Bouillon Lobster Base
  • 4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, divided
  • 1 Cup Cornstarch
  • Banh Canh or Udon Noodles


  • Green Onions, green parts, chopped
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Thai Chilies, sliced
  • Lime Wedges


  • 1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice
  • ¼ Cup Water
  • 4 Thai Chilies, sliced


  • Chinese Savory Donuts (Dầu Cháo Quẩy / Youtiao)
  • Cooked Crab Claws
  • Fish or Shrimp Balls
  • Sliced Fish Cake
  • Cooked Lobster Tail


  • 1)

    On the stovetop, boil and pot of water and blanch the pork ribs or pork neck bones for 4 minutes. Drain and rinse them. If you’re using chicken drumsticks, you can skip this blanching step.

  • 2)

    Peel and halve 3 Shallots. Add 1 Tablespoon of Oil into the Instant Pot and choose Sauté, use the adjust button and choose the “Normal” setting. Once the display says “Hot” add the shallots flat side down. Let them sauté for a few minutes just until the bottoms are lightly brown.

  • 3)

    Add 10 Cups of Water, 2 Pounds of Pork Bones, 1 Chopped Carrot, 1½ Tablespoons of Lobster Bouillon, 4 Teaspoons of Kosher Salt, 4 Teaspoons of Sugar, 4 Teaspoons of Fish Sauce and 1 Teaspoon of Annatto Powder (if you are peeling your own shrimp, you can also add the shrimp shells to the stock). Press Cancel to turn off Sauté mode. Seal the lid and switch the knob to Sealing. Choose High Pressure / Manual and set for 25 minutes (you can work on Step 6 while the broth is cooking). Once the timer is up, wait 15 minutes while the Instant Pot releases the pressure naturally, carefully switch the knob to Venting to release the rest of the steam. Once the pin drops, open the lid.

  • 4)

    Using a fine mesh strainer or fat skimmer, scoop everything out. You can save the pork bones for serving if there is meat on them. Discard everything else. You might notice that the skimmer will also remove some of the annatto powder, that’s ok to discard as well.

  • 5)

    In a bowl, add 1 Cup of Cornstarch and 1 Cup of Water, mix well so you have a smooth slurry. Pour this into the Instant Pot and stir well. Press Cancel on the Instant Pot to turn off Keep Warm mode. Choose Sauté and let the broth come to a simmer before serving – it will also thicken up. If you’re going to serve fish or shrimp balls, add them to the broth so they can warm up. Taste and season more with salt, fish sauce or sugar if needed – the broth should be slightly salty.

  • 6)

    This step can be done while the broth is cooking the Instant Pot. Place the Shrimp into a bowl and add 1 Tablespoon of Fish Fish Sauce, 1 Teaspoon of Kosher Salt and 1 Teaspoon of Sugar, mix well and let marinate for 15 minutes. In a large pan, add 3 Tablespoons of Oil and turn the heat to medium. Add 1 Diced Shallot and let it sauté for 3 minutes, then add 5 Minced Garlic Cloves. As soon as you start seeing the onions brown, add the marinated Shrimp and cook just until they are pink – avoid overcooking so they aren’t rubbery. Remove the shrimp with tongs (leaving the shallots and garlic in the pan) and set aside. With the heat still on, add the Lump Crab meat to the same pan, you want to be very gentle handling the crab meat so it stays in lumps. Toss gently just to coat the crab meat in the the garlic and shallots, remove from the pan and set aside.

  • 7)

    If you want to make the optional dipping sauce, place 1 Tablespoon of Fish Sauce, 1 Tablespoon of Sugar, 1 Tablespoon of fresh Lime Juice and 1/4 Cup of Water, 4 sliced Thai Chilies into a bowl and mix until the sugar has dissolved.

  • 8)

    Cook the Banh Canh or Udon Noodles according to the package instructions – if you prefer to have the noodles shorter so you can scoop them up with a spoon, cut them shorter before adding the broth. Place the noodles into a serving bowl and add a few shrimp and a generous portion of the crab meat. Ladle the simmering broth into the bowl. Garnish with chopped Green Onions, chopped Cilantro and sliced Thai Chilies if you like it spicy & top with Ground Black Pepper. Serve with lime wedges, dipping sauce and Chinese Savory Donuts (Dầu Cháo Quẩy / Youtiao). Enjoy!

↓ Supplies to make this recipe ↓



  • Thia

    November 24, 2018 at 8:10 am

    Hi, I’m pescatarian – can I leave out the Pork Ribs/Pork Neck Bones/Chicken Drumsticks? Will this effect the broth? Thank you!

    1. Van

      November 24, 2018 at 8:36 am

      Hi Thia, it should be fine to leave those out, the broth does taste without it though. You can add more lobster boullion instead. There’s not really a need to use the Instant Pot if you’re not cooking any bones.

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