Banh Canh Cha Ca (Noodle Soup With Fish Cake)

Bánh canh chả cá is a noodle soup with thick slippery round noodles and slices of fish cake.

It was one of our regular cheap and cheerful dinners when Miss M was very young. There was a great place near our old house that served up a fantastic bánh canh chả cá.

The bánh canh noodles are usually made with tapioca and rice flour, making the dish heavier than a lot of other Vietnamese noodle soups. I also love the fish cake, made from minced fish, spring onion, garlic and sometimes whole white peppers.

We spotted a small bánh canh stall on one of our exploratory drives around Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2. I was immediately beset by an irresistible bánh canh chả cá craving. Darling Man appeared to be similarly afflicted.

We pulled over to share a bowl.

bun canh cha ca

Unfortunately, it had blood cubes in it.

Darling Man gallantly offered to fish the blood cubes out of the soup.

bun canh cha ca
Unfortunately, he then proceeded to gobble down MORE THAN HALF of the soup, thus breaking the well-accepted couple’s food sharing code.

bun canh cha ca

To even the score, I ordered another bowl, making sure I specified “không huyết” (no blood).

And it was so good I gobbled mine down without taking any more photos.

Bánh canh chả cá is just one of the soups in the bánh canh family. Bún canh translates into soup cake and they all feature the fat noodles that resemble the Japanese udon noodle and a slightly orange tinge from the annatto seed.

If you see a sign advertising anything that includes the words bún canh, order a bowl and you won’t be disappointed. You could end up with bánh canh cua (noodle soup with crab), bánh canh tôm (noodle soup with prawn) or bánh canh giò heo tôm thịt (noodle soup with prawn and pork).

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7 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.


  1. Carmel says:

    Any of those dishes could NOT disappoint me. So…this is my first encounter with the phrase, “blood cube”…I’m assuming there’s blood in it, of course, but how does it become a cube?

    • Barbara says:

      Erm. I guess I’ll have to ask Darling Man the ins and outs of making blood cubes. It’s like a giant dish of blood jelly (or jello if you’re ‘Merican) cut into cubes. Pig’s blood. I don’t know how they make it into jelly. I just know I don’t want to eat it!

      • Carmel says:

        I kinda figured it had a jello (yes, I’m American :), base. Hmm…sounds a little icky. But then again I like blood sausage… The presentation of solidified blood is a little off-putting.

        • Barbara says:

          I just can’t do it. It may be linked to the fact that I had my first blood-cube-in-my-bowl experience when I was pregnant and had morning sickness. The whole idea of it still makes me feel icky. 🙂

  2. Snap says:

    The fish cake noodle soup looks typically delicious. Vietnamese cuisine is my favourite! The blood, or เลือด (lêuat) in Thai, was one of the most frequently used items in class, when learning the Thai phrase: ‘I don’t like…..’ Personally I don’t mind them, just little squishy chunks of protein 😉
    Snap recently posted..Mini Racing Cars, Kuah, Langkawi Island

    • Barbara says:

      Darling Man tells me they don’t have any taste. But I just can’t eat them. I have made progress, though. I can now eat a bowl of something that has had blood cubes in it. (As in Darling Man has rescued me by eating them for me.)

  3. YUM. i love noodles, i love soup. perfect!
    wandering educators recently posted..Polo – The Game of Kings

  4. Good to know how to say “no blood.”
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Bugs of Bolivia

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