Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bánh Canh Cua Và Tép (Crab and Shrimp Noodle Soup)


 In 2000, my mother and I made a trip to Vietnam together. We visited various places in Vietnam including the Northern regions of the country, Hanoi and Ha Long Bay. One early morning in Hanoi, my mother discovered this woman with her little side walk eatery making fresh bánh canh.  She ate a bowl and returned to the hotel to wake me up so I can sample this tasty breakfast. The woman used a colander with holes to make her noodles right on the street and it was the best bánh canh that I had ever eaten. To this day I still remember my mother and I sat on little plastic stools on the sidewalk eating our tasty bowls of noodles.  

Today is my day off and to wrap up our Lunar New Year celebration I decided to make this special noodles using Maine crab meat that my mother had prepared for me and fresh New Hampshire shrimp. In Vietnam there are a few types of bánh canh (soup). One famous type is made with just crab but since I have fresh shrimp I took advantage of it and incorporated it in my soup. In Vietnamese the crab noodle soup is known as bánh canh cua.  

I want to wish you a Happy Lunar New Year! May you live a full life eating only good food!!

Bánh Canh (Noodles) (serves 1-2)

cut noodles
round noodles
Ingredients:

1 C rice flour plus 1/4 C for dusting and kneading
1/3 C tapioca flour
1 C hot water

Method:

1) Boil a little over one cup in a small pot or kettle (add more water if you are making a hot tea for yourself!).
2) In a medium size bowl add 1 cup of rice flour and tapioca flour. Add hot water to the bowl and stir with chopsticks or a spoon.
3) Once the mixture form a ball, start to knead the dough. Add a little rice flour at a time to help knead the dough (careful not to burn your hand in the process). Knead for 3-4 minutes.
4) You can form 4-5 balls and let it sit in the bowl. Cover with a wet towel and let it rest for about 15-20 minutes.
5) Roll each ball out and cut into strips (remember to dust the cutting board and your knife to prevent the dough from sticking) or you can take about a teaspoon of dough and roll it with your palms to round a noodle (remember to dust your palms).
6) Cook the noodles in gently boiling water for about 2 minutes. Scoop out the noodles that have floated to the top and place them in a cold water bath.

*You can easily double the ingredients to make more noodles. I like to make my noodles fresh and eat it right away. I prefer to make my noodles round but this can be time consuming. However, once you get the hang of making this the process is much faster.  
*If you prefer the noodles to be more chewy just add a little more tapioca starch. I made my noodles with a consistency similar to what I remember eating on the street in Hanoi.

Pork Broth (makes about 11 1/2 cups, serves about 6 bowls)

Ingredients:

2 lb pork bones
6 oz fresh crab meat
8 C plus 12 C cold water
1 onion, cut in half vertically
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

Method:

1) In a large pot put in all the bones and 8 cups of water or just enough to submerge all the bones.
2) Turn heat to medium high until water is just boiling.
3) Remove the bones and throw away the water. Rinse the pot well.
4) Return the bones to the pot, add 12 cups of clean water and onion to the pot.
5) Once the water start to boil turn the heat down to low, cover and cook for 1 hour.
6) Stir in fish sauce, crab meat, salt and sugar and cook for 3-4 minutes more.
7) Remove the broth from the pot and discard the bones and onion.

*You may make the broth a day ahead. Once the broth has cooled then put it in the refrigerator.  The next day use a slotted spoon and scoop out all the white fat that have floated to the top.  This is the fat that will clog your arteries!
*Addendum: I spoke to my mother tonight over the phone and I mentioned that I made this noodle soup today. She suggested that I add ground pork to this for a better taste. If interested you can add 8 oz of ground pork for the last 15 minutes of cooking the broth. Make sure to remove the scum that floats to the top. She also thought chicken broth would be a better choice than pork broth. 

Shrimp Topping (enough for roughly 6 bowls of noodle soup)

 Ingredients:

8-oz fresh shrimp
1/4  C chopped scallion (or green onion)
2 Tbsp chopped shallot
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 Tbsp canola oil


Method:

1) Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small pan over high heat.
2) Once the pan is hot add shallots and garlic, saute for 1 minute.
3) Add 1 tablespoon oil, shrimp and scallion, saute for 2 minutes or until shrimp is cooked.
4) Add fish sauce and white pepper, stir a few times and turn off heat.

*When you are ready to eat, drain the amount of noodles you want to eat. Put this in a large bowl.  Add some of the shrimp topping. Scoop the broth with the crab meat into the bowl. You may also add hydrated seaweed and chopped cilantro/scallions. If you are using dried seaweed then soak the seaweed in hot water (boiling water) for 30 minutes and then rinse it well before eating. I like to add a small squirt of fish sauce, hot chili pepper and some fried red onion to my bowl right before eating.

now that was good!!

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