By Bui Thuy   January 18, 2024 | 11:08 am GMT+7

In a bowl of Hai Phong-style crab noodle soup, reddish-brown noodles meld into golden broth, revealing a natural sweetness, featuring crab meat, crab roe, pork fat, and fried shallots.

This recipe serves 4 to 6 people, takes approximately 100 minutes to prepare.

Ingredients

– 800 grams of field crabs (a type of freshwater crab found in fields, common in Southeast Asia). Choose small female field crabs with yellow bricks for optimal taste and texture.

– 400 grams of ground shoulder meat

– 400 grams of shrimp (or mantis shrimp)

– 300 grams of fish cake

– 150 grams of fat

– 5-6 shallots

– 1 bunch of betel leaves

– 1 tomato

– Vegetables: water spinach, water mimosa, banana flower

– Spices: fish sauce, Hai Phong-style dried shrimp paste (optional), salt, MSG, tamarind juice

– Chi chuong (Hai Phong-style chili sauce)

– Red flat noodles. The heart of the dish lies in the flat red noodles. To craft these noodles, one uses white rice, with a touch of gac (sweet gourd) added for coloring.

1. Preparation

– Place the field crabs in a high pot. Add a small amount of salt to the pot.

– Shake the pot vigorously to remove dirt from the crabs.

– Wash the crabs thoroughly to get rid of any remaining dirt.

– Peel the shell off the crabs. Separate the apron from the crab.

– Scoop out the crab roe and set them aside.

– Place the crab roe on a sieve. Rinse them gently with water to remove any residual black water, which can cause a fishy taste during cooking.

– Wash the crab body thoroughly.

– Transfer the crab body to a mortar.

– Add a small amount of salt to the crab in the mortar. The salt added during pounding helps the proteins in the crab meat stick together, forming lumps when cooked.

– Pound the crab until it reaches a smooth consistency.

– Add water to the pounded crab.

– Use your hands to carefully squeeze the meat until it dissolves.

– Allow the mixture to settle.

– Carefully strain the water through a sieve (or your hands) to remove any remaining crab flesh. Crab meat has a tendency to cling to sieves, so it’s best to filter the crab water by hand if at all possible. The filtering process should be continued until the crab body shows very little evidence of remaining meat. Take the crabs’ bodies out.

– Tailor the amount of water used to match the desired serving size, adjusting for the number of people eating.

After cleaning, the crab body unveils its meat, while the yellow crab roe is set aside for further use. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy
After cleaning, the crab body unveils its meat, while the yellow crab roe is set aside for further use. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy

– In a mixing bowl, season the ground meat with a teaspoon of salt, pepper, MSG, and sliced shallots.

– Mix the ingredients thoroughly.

– Wash the betel leaves to remove any impurities.

– Take the seasoned meat mixture and evenly distribute it onto the betel leaves.

– When wrapping, make sure to leave the vibrant green side of the betel leaves exposed. This enhances the visual presentation of the dish.

The exposed vibrant green side of the betel leaves boasts a smooth texture. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy
The exposed vibrant green side of the betel leaves boasts a smooth texture. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy

– The two essential vegetables for this dish are water spinach and water mimosa, with the choice varying according to the season. Wash and thoroughly dry the vegetables.

– If water mimosa is available, chop them into small pieces, which help enhances the overall flavor of the dish.

– Wash and chop scallions.

The vegetables add a refreshing touch to the dish, thanks to their flavors and green hues. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy
The vegetables add a refreshing touch to the dish, thanks to their flavors and green hues. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy

2. Cooking process

– Place the pot of filtered crab water on the stove, setting the heat to medium.

– Stir the crab water in a circular motion, ensuring a unidirectional movement. This helps prevent the crab meat from sticking to the bottom and blending together.

– Observe the water for the appearance of a thin wisp of smoke. As the water reaches the desired temperature, the crab meat will gradually float up.

– Separate the water from the floating crab meat.

– Lower the heat to medium-low to maintain the appropriate cooking temperature.

– Use a small slotted spoon to carefully scoop the crab meat from the pot.

– Transfer the extracted crab meat into a bowl.

The crab meat, when cooked, transforms into a crab paste with a blend of brown and white hues. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy
The crab meat, when cooked, transforms into a paste with a blend of brown and white hues. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy

– Wash and grill shallots, then add to the broth.

– Season the broth with a teaspoon of fish sauce, salt, MSG, and tamarind juice to achieve the desired flavor balance.

– If available, take a spoon of Hai Phong-style dried shrimp paste, wrap it in banana leaves, and grill it.

– Add the shrimp paste to the broth to enhance the overall flavor.

The crab broth boasts a clear, light brown hue. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy
The crab broth boasts a clear, light brown hue. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy

– Cut pork fat into small, diced parts.

– Fry the diced portions until golden and crispy. Add a pinch of salt for flavor.

– Take out the fried pork fat from the oil.

– Fry shallots in the same oil that was used for pork.

– Remove the fried shallots from the oil, and mix them with the fried pork fat.

– Retain the fried onion oil for the next step.

The crispy fried pork fat and shallots have a golden-brown color. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy
The crispy fried pork fat and onions have a golden-brown color. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy

– Cut tomatoes into a cross.

– Blanch them with boiling water to make peeling easier.

– Peel the tomatoes, remove the seeds, and finely mince them.

– Pour the finely minced tomatoes into the fried shallot oil.

– Season the tomato mixture with a teaspoon of fish sauce.

– Stir and cook until the tomatoes are soft.

The tomato and crab roe mixture has a red color and a slightly thick consistency. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy
The tomato and crab roe mixture has a red color and a slightly thick consistency. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy

– Pour the crab roe into the tomato mixture. Stir well until the combination thickens slightly.

– If you prefer a spicy flavor, add a bit of chili powder to the mixture.

– Scoop out the tomato-crab roe mixture and set it aside for further use.

– Fry the fish cakes until they turn a golden brown color.

The fried fish cake has a firmer texture, highlighted by browned edges. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy
The fried fish cakes have a firmer texture, highlighted by browned edges. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy

– Place the pork wrapped betel leaves evenly in a non-stick pan.

– Turn on the heat to lightly fry the rolls until the leaves firm up.

– Add a small amount of cooking oil to the pan. Fry the rolls until they are evenly cooked on all sides.

After frying, the pork wrapped in betel leaves undergoes a color transformation, with the leaves turning a darker shade of green. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy
After frying, the pork wrapped in betel leaves undergoes a color transformation, with the leaves turning a darker shade of green. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy

– Boil and peel the shrimp. Depending on preference, substituting it with mantis shrimp.

Boiling shrimp unveils its firm meat, showcasing a red and white skin. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy
Boiled and peeled shrimp. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy

– Opt for fresh red flat noodles for the most delicious results. In case it’s unavailable, use dry noodles soaked in water, then boil in hot water before consumption.

Fresh flat noodles come with a light brown color and a slightly chewy texture. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy
Fresh flat noodles come with a light brown color and a slightly chewy texture. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy

3. Presentation

– Begin by blanching the red flat noodles, and put them in a serving bowl.

– Layer the bowl with soft-boiled veggies, fish cakes, and boiled shrimp.

– Ladle the broth into the bowl.

– Add crab meat and tomato-crab roe mixture into the bowl.

– Sprinkle the dish with pork fat, fried shallots, and chopped green onions.

– Enhance the dish by serving it with chili pepper for an added kick of flavor.

In a bowl of Hai Phong-style crab noodle soup, youll find a mix of toppings, each bringing its own color to the medley. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy
In a bowl of Hai Phong-style crab noodle soup, you’ll find a mix of toppings, each bringing its own color to the medley. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thuy

Final product

– The reddish-brown flat noodles blend into the broth, offering a natural sweetness.

– The combination of crab meat, crab roe, crispy pork fat, and fried shallots creates a rich and savory essence.

Source: vnExpress