Vietnamese people love to eat noodle soup which are everywhere at restaurants and at street food stalls around the country. The most famous noodle soup is Pho – the national dish of Vietnam. There are various kinds of noodle soups such as Hue noodle soup (Bun bo Hue), Bun rieu (Crab noodle soup), Clear rice noodle (Hu Tieu)… are delicious dishes which are brilliant gems of Vietnamese foods. Crab soup cake (Banh canh cua) is a special dish which is hidden part and should be missed by most of foreigners when they arrive in Vietnam. I would like to introduce this food to anyone would like to learn more about Vietnamese delicious dishes as well as our rich culture.
Soup cake (Banh canh) is a noodle soup but it isn’t called noodle soup because it’s different from other Vietnamese noodle soup. The broth of some Vietnamese rice noodle soups is clear while the broth of Soup cake (Banh Canh) is gelatinous. The rice noodle of Bun rieu is about 1 millimeters thin. The rice noodle of Bun bo Hue is 5 times thicker than the Bun rieu and the Banh canh’s noodle is 5 times thicker than the Bun bo Hue’s noodle. The noodle is big and Vietnamese called it “cake”. We have the soup (broth) and the “cake” so that we name this food Soup cake. The last thing that make soup cake different from others noodle soup is that the noodle isn’t too long so that we don’t have to use chopsticks to eat. Just use a spoon to put the broth, toppings and noodles into your mouth. It’s simple, isn’t it?
Soup cake with shrimp, crab pie, crab meat, quail egg – Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
The broth is gelatinous and the noodles are thicker than other Vietnamese noodle soups. Just use a spoon to eat. Ingredients of crab soup cake with crab pie, quail egg, shrimp, crab meat and pork meat – Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
Soup cake’s noodles are in many shapes depends on the cook. Some people prefer the thick cylinder shape noodle made from mix of tapioca starch and rice flour while others prefer . In Mekong Delta they make the noodles of Soup cake by hand. After mixing the rice flour with water, oil, salt and other spices, the cook uses a cylinder glass bottle and knife to cut the dough into thick noodles so that the sizes of noodles aren’t the same and each noodle has each shape. The noodles are put into the pot after being cut and cooked for a long time with the broth and other ingredients so that the broth becomes gelatinous. In some regions, especially in Ho Chi Minh city, the noodles are shaped into cylinder shape using machine and boiled after being out of the machine. The noodles and other toppings are put into a big bowl before the broth is poured on them. The cook may add some tapioca starch or rice flour into the broth to make the broth gelatinous.
In fact, there are some versions of Soup cakes such as Soup cake with duck, Soup cake with shrimp, Crab soup cake, Soup cake with pork leg, Soup cake with pork… In Mekong Delta, most of people prefer Soup cake with duck and hand made noodles. They eat duck meat, duck organs and duck blood with fish sauce dip – mix of fish sauce, sugar, lemon and chili.
Soup cake with duck, hand made noodles and gelatinous broth are favorite of many people in Mekong Delta – Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
Soup cake with pork, blood pudding and cylinder machine noodles – Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
Soup cake with pig leg – Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
Soup cake with pork pie (right) and Soup cake with pork (left) in Nha Trang- Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
In Ho Chi Minh city, Crab soup cake are more popular than other kinds of soup cakes and you can easily find a stall to enjoy this food on the street. Why all love this amazing food? Firstly, the gelatinous broth is delicious because it is cooked from pork bone, crab and mushroom. The toppings are boiled crab meat, shrimp, quail egg, pork meat, mushroom, crab pie and Vietnamese basil. Black pepper and chopped green onion are added to the bowl of crab soup cake to make the dish tastier. The cook use different kinds of crab to cook crab noodle soup: sentinel-crab, ocean crab, crab living in rice field. Sometimes the boiled sentinel-crab is served with the soup cake and you have to use your fingers to eat. The tough crab pie is one of the highlights of Banh canh cua. Crab soup cake is a perfect mix of many fresh ingredients and it will be a big miss if you don’t taste this delicious Vietnamese food when you come to Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam.
Best places to eat crab soup cake in Saigon:
- Quán 48 restaurant at 48 Ngô Đức Kế street, District 1
- Thiên Phước restaurant at 116/24 Thiên Phước street, Tân Bình District
- Bánh Canh Cua 14 restaurant at 223 Trần Bình Trọng street, District 5
- Bánh Canh Cua at 67 Đinh Tiên Hoàng street, Bình Thạnh District
- Bánh Canh Cua at 87 Trần Khắc Chân street, District 1
- Hoàng Lan restaurant at 484 Vĩnh Viễn street, District 10
- Bánh Canh Cua at 320 Võ Văn Tần street, District 3
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