Canh Bun Recipe Crab and Water Spinach Noodle Soup

canh bun

Canh bun is a lessor known variation of the bun rieu (crab noodle soup) and is very popular in northern Vietnam. Many moons ago we posted about a small restaurant called Quan Bun Ban Mai that has some of the best version of this soup in Little Saigon. Several key differences between exists between canh bun and bun rieu. The first key difference is the use of a thicker rice vermicelli similar to the type used in bun bo hue, rather then the very thin rice vermicelli.  This noodle is first precooked in boiling water then cooked again in the soup, rendering it silky soft and smooth.  The second major difference is the use of rau muong (ong choy, water spinach, kang kung) that is cooked in the broth infusing it with this favorite staple vegetable.  Just like bun rieu, you can fancy canh bun with blood cake, shrimp paste, or periwinkle snails. We’ve had this recipe in the queue for quite sometime and have had several requests, so here it is–it’s almost a repeat of our bun rieu recipe but with a few key changes.

bun bo hue noodles

Canh Bun Noodle Soup
Printable Recipe
  • 12 cups of pork (pork broth recipe here) or chicken stock
  • can of 14 oz of crab meat paste in spices (many brands available, we like Lee Brand)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup of crab meat, either fresh or canned/frozen drained
  • 1/4 lb of ground pork
  • 1/2 tbs of fish sauce
  • 1/2 tbs of sugar
  • 1 tbs of finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tsp of ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of of fine shrimp paste
  • 2 tablespoon of dried shrimp (soaked in warm water)
  • 4 medium to large ripe tomatoes (quartered)
  • 10 medium sized fried tofu (halved)
  • 2 tbs tomato paste or 1 tbs of annato seed oil mixture (see this post)
  • 1 packet of thick vermicelli noodles (bun bo hue style)
  • 1 bunch of rau moung, cleaned and cut about 3-4 inch lengths (water spinach, ong choy, kang kung)
  • accompaniments: fine shrimp paste, lime wedges 
Soak dried shrimps until softened, roughly about 1hr, and then mince finely. A small food chopper will work nicely here. Cook the thick vermicelli noodles al dente and set aside. 
Add pork or chicken stock into large pot and bring to boil.

In the meantime, make the crab mixture. Combine ground pork, crab, can of crab meat in spices, shallots, fine shrimp paste, fish sauce, coarsely chopped dried shrimps, pepper, and sugar. Add the beaten eggs and mix well. When the stock comes to a boil, slowly add this crab mixture into stock. Now add the tomatoes and tofu and bring to boil again and then turn off heat. Finally, season stock with additional salt or fish sauce. Mix in tomato paste or annato seed oil for nice distinctive reddish color broth.  

Ladle individual servings of the broth into a smaller sauce pan and add the cooked vermicelli noodles and a heaping handful of the rau moung and bring this to boil and serve immediately.

Cooks note: Keep additional boiled rau muong as a side. 

canh bun

So the next time you’re craving for bun rieu and make a big pot, make this easy twist and turn it into canh bun! Close your windows–garnish with some fine shrimp paste and a squirt of lime and enjoy!  

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