Banh Canh is a delicious, thick noodle Vietnamese soup that can be compared to chicken noodle soup on a cold, blustery day. It is a thick noodle that is absolutely delicious and can be made with pork broth.
If you have never had Vietnamese banh canh, you are missing out. The popularity contest is won by pho for Vietnamese noodle dishes, but banh canh is a very close rival due to its savory and hearty taste.
Nothing can compare to a bowl of Vietnamese banh canh noodles, which is often referred to as Vietnamese tapioca noodle soup. When this soup is garnished with pork meatloaf, green onion, cilantro, dried garlic, and red chili oil, it will take you to a slice of heaven.
Variations of Banh Canh
There are many variations of Vietnamese banh canh, often referred to as the Vietnamese thick noodle soup.
- banh canh trảng bàng – bánh canh made in the southeastern Vietnamese town of Trảng Bàng, served with boiled pork, tapioca noodles, and local herbs
- banh canh giò heo tôm thịt – includes pork knuckle and shrimp
- banh canh cua – a rich, thick crab soup
- banh canh bột lọc – a more translucent and chewy version of the noodle
- banh canh chả cá – includes fish cake (made popular in South Vietnam)
- banh canh tôm – a shrimp-flavoured broth that is also mixed with coconut milk
The most popular variation of these adaptations is banh canh cua, which is made with seafood like crab, shrimp, shrimp balls, fish balls, and fried fish cakes.
Out of all of these variations, banh canh and banh canh trang bang with pork broth is my favorite and is the most traditional of the two recipes mainly because I like the protein with my noodles.
What does banh canh mean in Vietnamese?
Banh is a general term that is used for snacks, cookies, pastries based on context. In this context, it means rice snack.
Canh means soup.
Cua means crab, which refers to the other seafood variation of this recipe called banh canh cua.
All About Homemade Banh Canh Noodles
Banh canh noodles are best made homemade from scratch before adding into the delicious and savory broth. There is just something to be said about fresh noodles.
It is often garnished with chopped cilantro, green onion, and a spoonful of chilli oil that provides a flavor that takes the spice out of this world.
If needed, they can be purchased at most Asian supermarkets pre-made both dried and precooked.
Japanese udon noodles can also be used as a substitute (it will absolutely have a different taste and texture to real banh canh noodles through texture and chewiness). Both have a thickness to a pencil or chopsticks.
The homemade recipe is really flexible and different variations can be made with a mixture of different portions of rice flour, tapioca flour, and wheat flour. You can adjust the ratio of each flour to your preference. If you prefer a slightly chewier noodle, use more tapioca flour.
For example, you can use equal amounts of rice flour and tapioca like I shared in my recipe below. If you want chewier noodles, you can use 1 ¼ cups of tapioca starch to ¾ cups of rice flour to suit your tastes.
The boiling hot water is what is needed to cook the flour and ensure elasticity is activated with the banh canh dough.
The beauty about banh canh noodles is that once the dough is made, it does not require any resting time, which allows you to have a delicious bowl in just a few minutes (that is, if you have the stock ready to go).
About This Banh Canh Recipe
The recipe I'm going to share with you is a mix of traditional banh canh and banh canh cua.
The banh canh noodles are savory, thick, and chewy. They are made from a combination of tapioca and rice flour.
The banh canh broth are made of pork stock that include pork hocks, knuckles, and neck bones. The broth is simmered for approximately two hours which is then seasoned with sugar and salt. It includes both ground pork and crab meat for added texture and variety of taste.
The noodles and the broth can be added separately during serving. For a more savory serving, the noodles can be added into the cooking pot to provide a starchy and thicker broth.
Ingredients at the Asian Market
Here is what the rice flour and tapioca flour may look like in your local Asian grocer.
This is the crab meat I use to make this recipe. Obviously, you can get fresh crab meat, but this is my cheat way of making this on a busy weeknight.
How to Make Homemade Banh Canh Noodles
Ingredients for Homemade Banh Canh Noodles
- 1 cup rice flour
- 1 cup tapioca starch
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 7 ounces of boiling, hot water
Directions On How to Make Banh Canh Noodles
In a large mixing bowl, mix the rice flour, tapioca starch, and salt with 1 cup boiling, hot water at a low speed. Add the vegetable oil and continue mixing on low.
Coat your work surface and rolling pin with rice flour when working with the dough to keep it from sticking. Knead the dough well until dough is soft and non-sticky.
Sprinkle some additional flour on the working surface and use a rolling pin to roll the dough to a thickness of ¼ inch.
If you are not able to stretch the dough or it’s breaking off in chunks, the water was not hot enough. If this happens to you, microwave the dough for 1-2 minutes on high to improve elasticity.
Once stretched, cut the dough into 3-inch strips.
Note: You can also use a potato ricer to run the dough through to make the noodles.
Ingredients for Banh Canh Broth and Stock
- 1 pounds of pork bones (substitute spare ribs or country pork ribs)
- water for broth
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of sugar, granulated
- 1 teaspoon of fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon of MSG (optional)
- ½ pound of banh canh noodles
- 1 pound of ground pork
- 2 cans of crab meat
- 4 shallots, minced
- ½ stick of Vietnamese pork meatloaf, sliced
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- ¼ bunch of cilantro, thinly sliced
- Vietnamese mint rau ram, chopped
- ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
- chili oil
- fried garlic
Directions on How to Make Banh Canh
Clean the pork bones (or spare ribs) thoroughly.
Next, you are going to blanch the pork bones and remove impurities. Fill a large stock pot with water. Add the pork bones and ensure the water covers it by about 1 inch. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the stock pot to a boil for about 5 minutes. Once you see the foam starting to form, take the contents and drain it out. Rinse it under cold running water, and then clean the pork bones. This will allow the pork bone smell to dissipate and allow the stock to run clear.
You are now going to create the actual stock. Add 8 cups of water to a stock pot and bring to a boil. Next, add in the pork bones. After being brought to a boil, reduce the heat to the low to medium heat and allow it to simmer uncovered for 2 hours. Check on it every 15 minutes and occasionally remove any foam impurities that comes to the top of the pot.
After 2 hours, season the stock by adding sugar, MSG (optional), and fish sauce.
Mix together the ground pork, crab meat, and shallots. Roll into 1 inch balls.
Add to broth. Cook stock for another 20 minutes.
Add in the banh can (see recipe) into the stock pot to cook for 15 minutes.
Ladle into a bowl. Served topped with meat loaf, cilantro, green onion, Vietnamese mint rau ram, and chili oil (optional).
Frequently Asked Questions About Vietnamese Banh Canh
How long does banh canh noodles last after making them?
Homemade banh canh noodles are best if eaten within 5 days of being made. To reheat, just add into the banh canh broth after being brought to a boil.
What's the difference between banh canh noodles and udon noodles?
The Japanese udon is more transparent in color and a little more slippery as compared to banh canh noodles. Banh canh noodles are has a chewier texture and is softer when eaten.
What's the difference between traditional banh canh and banh canh ca loc?
The difference is how the noodle is cooked. It uses fine ground rice flour with tapioca starch with hot water and kneaded until the flour is smooth.
What's the difference between traditional banh canh and banh canh binh dinh?
It's the same as banh canh ca loc, but the flour and starch is mixed with warm water and then stuffed. The mixture is then added with wheat flour to soften the dough, but allow it to still remain sticky.
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Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 208Total Fat: .8gSaturated Fat: .2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 12mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 1.8gSugar: 1.5gProtein: 7.3g
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 350Total Fat: 62gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 285mgSodium: 304mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 20g
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Banh canh, Vietnamese thick noodle soup, is not only delicious, but it's comforting and full of flavor with the textures of the noodles and the savory broth of the pork. Accompanied with Vietnamese meat loaf, fresh herbs, and a touch of chili oil makes this dish all around an amazing comforting meal for any occasion.
Let me know what you think of this recipe!
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