With the weather cooling down this week, I started to think about soup. Last weekend at the Asian market I purchased banh canh noodles, which are commonly used in a Vietnamese soup called Banh Canh Cua – a crab soup. The noodles are very much like Japanese udon noodles, thick and chewy.
I found an alternative recipe for Banh Canh Tom, a similar soup made with shrimp. It is a simple recipe for a very clean-tasting soup, the predominant flavors are shrimp and black pepper. This soup is one of the few Vietnamese recipes I have seen that doesn’t involve hot spices or herbs. See the recipe at the end of this post.
I also made a corn side dish that involved dried shrimp. Dried shrimp is one of those ingredients that I have not used before, and truthfully still scares me a little… The corn recipe seemed like a good place to try it out, since seafood and corn is a common flavor combo in chowders and soups. The online source of the recipe called this dish Bap Xao. The dried shrimp (stored in the freezer until I need them) were briefly soaked in warm water and then minced very finely. I sauteed the minced shrimp with scallions and a chopped Thai red chile. The corn was then added along with a bit of fish sauce and salt. In all, it only took about 5 minutes to cook. I liked the result, the dried shrimp add a crab taste to the dish, and using Honey Select corn frozen from my dad’s 2010 crop certainly didn’t hurt!
Banh Canh Tom
½ lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 scallions, chopped (keep white pieces separate from green)
1 cup vegetable broth or fish stock
4 cups water
15 oz. package banh canh noodles
1 Tbsp. sugar
salt and pepper
In a food processor, grind the shrimp and white part of scallions with a pinch of salt and a couple grinds of black pepper. Saute the ground shrimp mixture over high heat until starting to get slightly browned. Break up any large pieces while you’re stirring the mixture. Add the liquid to deglaze the pan. Add the sugar and season the broth with salt and pepper while you’re bringing it to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, uncovered. Add noodles and continue simmering until the noodles are soft, 5-10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and garnish with green part of scallions. Serves 2 as a main meal or 4 as part of a meal.