Ultimate Guide to Banh Canh: Vietnamese-Style Udon Soup Recipe

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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Imagine diving into a bowl of Banh Canh, the Vietnamese cousin to Japan’s well-loved udon. This thick, satisfying noodle soup carries the heart and soul of Vietnam in every slurp. Known for its delightfully chewy, tapioca-based noodles, Banh Canh is a comforting embrace in noodle form, perfect for any day that calls for a little extra warmth.

Traditionally served with a rich, aromatic broth and topped with anything from succulent shrimp to tender pork, this dish is a testament to the versatility and depth of Vietnamese cuisine. Whether it’s a rainy day or you’re just in need of a flavorful escape, Banh Canh offers a delicious way to transport your senses straight to the streets of Vietnam. Get ready to explore how to bring this exotic comfort food into your own kitchen.

Ingredients

Prepare to bring the rich flavors of Banh Canh into your kitchen with these carefully selected ingredients. The recipe consists of three main components: the broth, the noodles, and the assorted toppings.

For the Broth

  • 2 liters of chicken or pork stock
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, sliced
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick

For the Noodles

  • 400 grams of Banh Canh noodles (tapioca or a mix of tapioca and rice flour noodles)
  • Water for boiling
  • 200 grams of shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 200 grams of thinly sliced pork shoulder
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • A handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Fried shallots for sprinkling
  • Fresh lime wedges for serving
  • Sliced red chili peppers (optional for added spice)
  • 2 soft-boiled eggs, halved (optional)

Required Tools and Equipment

To make your Banh Canh with precision and ease, having the right tools and equipment is key. Here’s what you’ll need to gather before you start cooking:

Cooking Utensils

  • Large Stockpot: Ideal for simmering the broth and ensuring all flavors meld beautifully.
  • Medium Pot: Necessary for boiling the noodles separately to achieve the perfect chewy texture.
  • Strainer or Colander: Useful for draining the noodles after boiling.
  • Ladle: Essential for serving the hot broth neatly into bowls.
  • Sharp Knife: Needed for slicing the pork and chopping the herbs.

Preparation Equipment

  • Cutting Board: Provides a solid surface for all your chopping needs.
  • Mixing Bowls: Handy for mixing and tossing ingredients or marinating the meat.
  • Soup Bowls: Choose deep bowls to serve this hearty noodle soup.
  • Chopsticks and Soup Spoons: Offers an authentic way to enjoy Banh Canh, maintaining the Vietnamese dining experience.

Make sure you have all these items ready before you start cooking to ensure a smooth and enjoyable cooking process.

Preparations

Let’s get started by preparing everything you need to create your authentic Banh Canh. Follow these steps to ensure a rich broth and perfect noodles.

Preparing the Broth

  1. Start With the Base: In your large stockpot, begin by sautéing chopped onions and minced garlic in a bit of oil until they turn golden and fragrant. This foundational step will infuse your broth with a deep, savory flavor.
  2. Add the Bones and Water: Place pork or chicken bones into the pot and cover them with cold water. The bones will give your broth a rich and robust taste, essential for authentic Banh Canh.
  3. Season and Simmer: Add salt, a dash of fish sauce for that umami complexity, and a pinch of sugar to balance the flavors. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer. Skim off any impurities that rise to the top to keep your broth clear and clean-tasting.
  4. Infuse with Aromatics: After about 1 hour of simmering, add spices like star anise and a cinnamon stick for that quintessential Vietnamese aroma. Continue to simmer the broth gently for another hour.
  5. Strain and Keep Warm: Once your broth is rich and flavorful, strain it through a fine sieve to remove bones and spices. Keep it warm on low heat until you are ready to serve, making sure it retains all its delightful flavors.
  1. Mix the Dough: In a mixing bowl, combine tapioca flour and boiling water. Use a wooden spoon to stir quickly until the dough begins to come together. Then, knead it with your hands until smooth and pliable.
  2. Form the Noodles: Pinch off small pieces of dough and roll them into long, udon-like strands. If the dough becomes sticky, dust your hands and the surface with a bit more tapioca flour.
  3. Cook the Noodles: Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Carefully drop your noodles into the boiling water and cook them until they are transparent and have a chewy texture, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent them from sticking together.
  4. Cool and Set Aside: Drain the cooked noodles in a strainer and rinse them under cold water to stop the cooking process. This step also helps remove excess starch and ensures the noodles maintain their characteristic chewiness.

By following these detailed preparations, you’ll set the stage for a truly scrumptious Banh Canh, enhanced with your handmade touch.

Cooking Instructions

Now that you’ve prepped your ingredients, let’s dive into cooking your Banh Canh. Follow these steps to bring your Vietnamese-style udon to life with rich flavors and perfect textures.

Cooking the Broth

Start by placing a large pot on medium heat. Add the sautéed onions and garlic into the pot, stirring until they become fragrant. This is the base of your broth’s flavor. Next, add in the pre-cooked bones — these could be pork, chicken, or beef, depending on what you prefer or have available. Pour in enough water to cover the bones by an inch to ensure a rich extraction of flavors.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer. This slow cooking process will help develop the depth of the broth. Add your choice of aromatics now — things like star anise, cinnamon sticks, and a few slices of ginger are perfect for a traditional Banh Canh broth. Allow the broth to simmer gently for at least an hour; two to three hours is ideal for maximizing flavor.

After simmering, strain the broth to remove the solids, leaving you with a clear, flavorful liquid. Season with fish sauce, salt, and a pinch of sugar to balance the flavors. Keep the broth hot over low heat as you prepare the toppings and noodles.

Preparing the Toppings

While your broth simmers, prepare the toppings. For shrimp, peel and devein them if necessary. Slice the pork into thin strips. In a separate pan, heat a bit of oil over medium heat and sauté the shrimp and pork until they are cooked through and nicely browned. This should take about 5 to 7 minutes.

Chop the scallions and cilantro finely. Keep lime wedges handy for serving. These fresh toppings will add a burst of flavor and a nice textural contrast to the dish.

Cooking the Noodles

As for the noodles, bring another pot of water to a vigorous boil. If you’ve made your own tapioca noodles, gently drop them into the boiling water. These noodles cook quickly, so keep an eye on them — they typically need about five to six minutes to achieve the desired texture, which is pleasantly soft yet chewy.

Once the noodles are cooked, drain them in a colander and rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking process. This also helps remove excess starch and keeps the noodles from sticking together.

Assembling the Banh Canh

Now that you’ve meticulously prepared your broth, noodles, and toppings, it’s time to assemble your Banh Canh, bringing all the elements together into a harmonious bowl of comfort. Follow these steps to ensure your noodle soup is both delicious and visually appealing.

Arrange the Noodles and Toppings

  1. Prepare the Bowls: Warm your serving bowls to ensure the soup stays hot longer. You can do this by filling them with hot water, then emptying just before assembling.
  2. Add the Noodles: Carefully place a generous portion of the cooked tapioca noodles into the bottom of each bowl. The noodles should be soft and slippery but hold their shape well.
  3. Layer the Toppings: On top of the noodles, evenly distribute the cooked shrimp and pork slices. Make sure each bowl gets an equal share of these savory components.
  4. Garnish: Sprinkle chopped scallions, cilantro, and thinly sliced onions over the toppings. These fresh herbs will bring a burst of freshness and color to the dish.

Pour in the Broth

  1. Heat the Broth: Before pouring, make sure your broth is piping hot. This not only heats the dish but also helps to release all the aromatic flavors from the herbs and spices infused in the broth.
  2. Serve Immediately: Ladle the hot broth over the noodles and toppings, filling the bowl to just below the rim. The heat from the broth will slightly cook the herbs, enhancing their flavors and aromas.
  1. Squeeze Lime: Offer lime wedges on the side. A squeeze of lime juice adds a delightful zing and balances the richness of the broth.
  2. Add Extra Heat: For those who enjoy a bit of spice, a small dish of sliced chili peppers or a dollop of chili paste can be served alongside.

Serve your Banh Canh immediately to enjoy the full spectrum of textures and flavors. Each spoonful should be a blend of chewy noodles, tender meat, and a broth that sings with complexity and depth. Enjoy the process and savor every bite of this traditional Vietnamese comfort food.

Serving Suggestions

Once you have completed assembling your aromatic bowl of Banh Canh, it’s crucial to serve it correctly to fully enjoy its traditional flavors and textures. Here are a few suggestions to enhance your experience:

Individual Bowls

Serve Banh Canh in individual bowls. This allows each person to enjoy their meal freshly served with the broth still steaming. It’s also a great way to personalize each serving according to taste preferences.

Accompaniments

To elevate your Banh Canh, provide a variety of accompaniments:

  • Lime wedges: A squeeze of lime adds a refreshing zesty flavor that cuts through the richness of the broth.
  • Fresh herbs: Offer extra cilantro, basil, or mint on the side for guests to add as per their taste.
  • Bean sprouts: These add a crunchy texture to the soup.
  • Fish sauce and hoisin sauce: Allow guests to adjust the saltiness and sweetness of their soup.

Condiments

Have condiments available on the table:

  • Chili oil or fresh chilies: Ideal for those who prefer a spicier kick.
  • Black pepper: A few twists can enhance the depth of flavors.

Beverage Pairings

Pair your Banh Canh with a beverage that complements its rich flavor:

  • Green tea: Known for its light and refreshing nature, it balances the richness of the broth.
  • Beer: A light lager can cleanse the palate between sips of the flavorful broth.

Tips for Eating

Encourage guests to stir their soup before eating to mix all the elements thoroughly. This ensures a perfect combination of noodle, broth, and toppings in every spoonful. Enjoy your Banh Canh hot for the best experience, as the noodles are at their peak texture and the broth at its most flavorful when enjoyed warm.

Conclusion

So there you have it—your very own guide to diving into the warm comforting embrace of Banh Canh. Whether you’re stirring up a pot on a chilly evening or looking for a satisfying meal to share with friends you’re now well-equipped to bring this Vietnamese classic to your table. Don’t forget to personalize your bowl with your favorite toppings and maybe even experiment with different broth flavors. Most importantly enjoy each slurp and savor the blend of textures and tastes that make Banh Canh a beloved dish worldwide. Happy cooking and even happier eating!

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