Bánh Canh Cua Tôm (Crab and Shrimp Tapioca Noodle Soup)

Bánh Canh Cua Tôm (Crab and Shrimp Tapioca Noodle Soup)

Course: Entree, Noodle Soup
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Marvellina
Seafood lovers will surely enjoy this Vietnamese Banh Canh Cua Tom served in thick umami-rich broth topped with succulent shrimp, crabs, shrimp balls. I'm sharing the easy version too.
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  • 2 packs (about 2 lbs) banh canh or substitute with Udon noodles if you must
  • 12 -16 shrimp balls

For crab and shrimp toppings:

  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 shallots peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled, finely chopped
  • 1 lb large shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 16 oz crab meat or use 15-20 crab claws

Soup base:


  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce more to taste
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Annatto seeds oil:

Thickening agent:

  • 4 Tbsp tapioca starch + 1/2 cup water


  • 3 stalks green onion finely chopped
  • Small bunch of fresh cilantro leaves


Prepare annatto seeds oil:

  • Preheat the oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add in the annatto seeds and fry for about 2 to 3 minutes and keep stirring to avoid burning the seeds. Remove from the heat and strain the oil into a glass container and discard the seeds.

Cook noodles (if using store-bought banh canh):

  • Cook the banh canh or udon noodles according to the package instruction. Set aside

Prepare toppings:

  • Preheat a large pot with 1 Tbsp annatto oil. Add the shallots, and garlic and saute for about 1 minute until fragrant. Add crab paste and stir fry for another minute. Add the shrimp and stir fry until they turn pink. Remove the shrimp pieces to set aside for topping later and transfer the rest to the soup below when ready

Prepare soup:

  • Pour chicken stock in a large pot. If you are using crab claws, add the claws in when the stock comes to a boil and cook until the crab claws are cooked through 
  • Add the shallots, garlic, and crab paste you sauteed earlier into the soup and bring to a boil. If you are using crab meat, this is the time to add it in along with the shrimp balls. Add seasonings and adjust to your liking by adding more fish sauce and/or sugar if needed
  • If using fresh banh canh, cook the noodles in the soup. The noodles will float to the top when cooked and thickening the soup at the same time. Continue to ladle the noodles and soup into bowls and continue to assembling

Thickened the soup (skip if using fresh made banh canh):

  • Mix the tapioca flour with water and stir until mixture has no lumps and smooth. While the soup is gently simmering, slowly pour the tapioca mixture into the soup while the other hand keeps stirring. The soup will thicken and shiny because of the tapioca flour


  • Portion the noodles out into an individual serving bowl. Portion the shrimp, shrimp balls, crab meat or crab claws into each bowl
  • Ladle the thickened soup over the noodles. Garnish with chopped green onions and cilantro leaves. Few turns of fresh ground black pepper is a great addition too. Serve immediately


The annatto seeds oil will give the soup its redish color without affecting much of the taste. It's commonly used in Mexican cuisines too.