Bánh canh – Vietnamese Thick Noodle Soup

By Helen Le Published: June 3, 2012

  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 1 hr 30 mins
  • Ready In: 2 hrs 0 min

  • Yield: 4-6 Servings

Bánh canh is thick Vietnamese noodle that looks quite like Japanese udon which has the thickness of a chopstick, more or less. The Vietnamese word bánh refers to items such as noodles or cakes that are made from flour, and canh means "soup". In some countries you can buy dried or precooked banh canh noodle at the Asian store. If you can't find it, you can use Japanese Udon as a substitute. Banh canh is apparently the most versatile dish among all Vietnamese noodle soup dishes. The soup base (broth) can be cooked from pork, crab, fish, and the toppings can be with fish cake, mushroom, Vietnamese ham, shimp balls, etc.

  • Method 1: In a mixing bowl, mix the rice flour, tapioca starch and salt with 1 cup boiling hot water. Knead well until dough is soft and non-sticky. Cover and let the dough rest for about 30 minutes to reduce the strong flour smell. Then sprinkle some flour on the working surface and use a rolling pin to roll the dough to a thickness of ¼ inch (0.5cm). Cut into 3-inch (7cm) strips.
  • METHOD 2 : In a mixing bowl, dissolve the rice flour, vegetable oil and salt in 1 ½ cup water. Then microwave for 2 minutes 30 seconds until the mixture is half-cooked (yet still quite runny). Add the tapioca starch and stir until well-combined. Transfer the flour mixture into a potato ricer. Press gradually and continuously to release the noodle into a pot of boiling water. (If you don’t have a potato ricer, you can use a piping bag or a thịck plastic bag. Cut off a small hole at the tip and press to release.)When the noodle float to the surface, use a slotted spoon to transfer to a bowl of cold water and then drain.
  • To make annatto oil, heat ½ cup oil over medium heat and add the annatto seeds. When the seeds begin to bubble steadily, turn off the heat and let stand for 30 seconds. Strain the oil and discard the seeds. You will get the annatto oil with orange-red color.
  • To make the broth, in a pot, add the pork bones and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. You will see the impurities rise to the top. Dump out the pot and rinse the bones well under warm water to clean all the impurities. Place the bones to a large stock pot filled with 3 liters water. Add one peeled onion and salt. Bring to a boil and cook on medium heat for 1 hour, occasionally skim off the foam. Season to taste with chicken stock/sugar, salt, and fish sauce.
  • To make banh canh cha ca, add the home-made noodle to the stock pot and cook until soft. Then add fish cakes and some of the annatto oil. Transfer into serving bowl. Garnish with chopped spring onion and Vietnamese mint rau ram.
  • To make banh canh cua, season the crab meat, crab chunks, prawns with salt, pepper, fish sauce. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  • In a large saucepan over medium high heat, add some cooking oil and sauté the mined garlic until fragrant. Add crab meat and prawns and stir-fry until cooked. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.Add some more oil in the same sauce pan and stir-fry the crab chunks until the color changes to organge-red.
  • Add the pork broth (or water) and bring to a boil. Season to taste with seasoning powder/MSG/sugar, salt, and fish sauce. You can either add the home-made noodle directly into the soup or boil and drain it separately.
  • Ladle to a serving bowl. Top up with stir-fried crab meat, prawn, and annatto oil. Garnish with some chopped spring onion or Vietnamese mint rau ram. Banh canh is served simply with a spoon and fried bread sticks.


  • The noodle for Banh canh can be made from rice flour, tapioca flour, sometimes wheat flour, or a mixture of those. The recipe is flexible. You can adjust the ratio to your preference: Use more tapioca flour if you like chewy noodle, use less if you want it softer. I personally prefer the second method because it is easier, and the noodle is softer

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