I never liked this soup growing up. I thought it was bland and boring, but of course my mom would always make it. I'm sorry foodies; I was a clueless child then and did not appreciate the essence of this soup. I remember throwing a tantrum one time when I was little because I did not want to eat it. My brother asked why I was not eating. I told him it's tasteless and I don't like eating pig hocks. I don't know if he was telling me the truth or just trying to con me into eating it. He claimed I'm eating it wrong! When you eat banh canh you're suppose to add a squirt of lime, extra fish sauce, and a lot of pepper. You know it's just right when you can taste the sourness from the lime and the saltiness of the fish sauce. It was perfect! Luckily I grew to love this soup but only with extra lime, fish sauce, and pepper of course. I guess big brothers are good for some things.
Since I'm not a fan of the pork version I always make the crab version. This recipe was inspired by my friend's mom. I had a bowl of her banh canh and instantly was intrigue by her broth. As I was slurping her broth I noticed a familarity. It looks like banh canh but why does it have a hint of Bun Rieu in it? Well that's because she uses the crab paste from the jar commonly use to make the "cach" for bun rieu. The only thing I would change about this recipe is adding real crab claws but it way too expensive in Indiana so I settle with frozen crabmeat. Enjoy!
2 lbs of pork neck bone
2 cup of crabmeat (thawed if frozen)
1 lb shrimp (peeled)
fresh banh canh noodle
1 tablespoon of minced shallot
2 tablespoon of crab paste
yellow onions (thinly sliced)
green onions (finely chopped)
cilantro (finely chopped)
1. Preboil the pork bones with a good amount of salt.
2. Simmer the bones in a pot of water for 1-2 hours.
3. Taste the broth with fish sauce,rock sugar (size of your thumb), 1 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning (or chicken bouillon).
4. Heat up 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a small pan. Add the minced shallot (you can use the white part of the green onions as well) and saute until fragrance.
5. Add the crab meat and saute with the shallots. Season with a little bit of fish sauce and ground pepper. Add the crab paste and continue to stir.
6. Add the crabmeat into the broth and let simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Some people like to add the noodles directly into the pot but I can't risk overcooking the noodles. I prefer to transfer a portion of the broth to smaller pot and prepare individual bowls. Bring the pot to a boil, add shrimp and noodle and let cook. Once the noodle is soft enough to eat, transfer to bowl immediately. Top off with green onions, sliced onions, and cilantro.