Banh canh (pronounced “bann kann”) is a filling Vietnamese soup (canh) with thick noodles (banh) made from rice or tapioca flour. Banh canh is a versatile dish that can be made with all kinds of ingredients. Well-known versions are those with crab (banh canh cua), crab and shrimp (banh canh tom cua) and with ham (banh canh gio heo).
The noodles for this dish are thick, soft and sticky. They are often compared to Japanese udon noodles, although Japanese noodles are made from wheat flour, unlike Vietnamese ones. The soup is thicker than most other Vietnamese noodle soups – think pho or bun bo hue. The liquid in banh canh looks more like gravy or a sauce than a soup.
How to make banh canh
The noodles for banh canh are sold ready-made but are also easy to make yourself. A dough is made from rice flour, tapioca flour, hot water and salt, left to rest, and is then rolled out and cut into thin strips. Banh canh noodles are supposed to be relatively thick, so half-centimetre strips are fine.
The basis of the soup is a broth made from pork bones, although chicken broth is also suitable. If you make banh canh with ham, then the ham is cooked with the bones. The broth is seasoned with fish sauce, sugar and salt. The noodles are then cooked in the broth, together with fish, meat or fish balls, depending on what the cook feels like or what you have at home. Top the soup off with chopped spring onion and Vietnamese mint.
Banh canh is often perked up with a crab claw; nice to eat and nice to see!
How to eat
Eat banh canh with chopsticks and a spoon.
In terms of ingredients, bun rieu is a bit like banh canh cua, but is slightly more acidic in taste.