“Red noodle soup with crab” is the name that TasteAtlas, an online culinary guide based in Croatia, has recently updated for the famous crab noodle dish in Hai Phong. This online culinary platform rates the crab noodle dish as one of the eight most famous soups in Northern Vietnam.”
“Red noodle soup with crab,” a vibrant and colorful dish, is a local delicacy hailing from Hai Phong. The broth is made from pork meat, combined with various ingredients such as crab meat, fresh vegetables, meatballs, Vietnamese sausage, or minced meat wrapped in betel leaves.
Though the ingredients may vary, each bowl must contain a portion of locally-produced red noodles, which are characterized by their light red color. Served with a few slices of lime, cut chili, and aromatic herbs, the dish is complete.
Before passing judgment on their introduction of the crab noodle dish, consider that if you are from Hai Phong or already familiar with the food, you may be well aware that it is one of the must-try dishes for most tourists during a food tour in the city. Many Vietnamese people misunderstand the dish as well.
The red noodle, made from rice flour and colored with either sugarcane juice or gac fruit powder, is a distinctive feature of Hai Phong’s crab noodle dish. However, some tourists have mistakenly asked if the red noodles are made from rice and crab, so it’s understandable if TasteAtlas was not entirely accurate in describing the broth as being made from pork.
Hai Phong has several places specialized in producing crab noodles, such as Du Hang Kenh and Ho, but many people prefer the chewy texture of Ho’s crab noodles and enjoy eating them with hot and rich broth until they cool down, as the noodles retain their firmness and color.
As for the broth, it should undoubtedly be made from fresh ground crab for the authentic taste of Hai Phong’s crab noodle dish. Nowadays, cuisine has become diverse and offers many delicious and unique variations. Apart from the traditional crab noodle dish, there are also crab noodles in clay pots, crab noodles with various shellfish, and mixed seafood crab noodles.
For those who have never tried Hai Phong’s crab noodle dish, let’s imagine it like this: The red or white noodles are usually blanched briefly, as they have been pre-steamed before being dried. The filling typically includes standard pieces of freshwater crab meat, some fried betel leaf-wrapped sausages, meatballs, and fragrant stir-fried shrimp.
Essential seasonings include crispy golden fried shallots, a touch of savory pork fat cracklings, and a little broth tinted with the essence of crabs.
Common herbs used are green onions, water spinach, and shiso leaves, but some places might use other seasonal greens like morning glory, water dropwort, cabbage, chrysanthemum greens, and Vietnamese coriander.
Next, the vendor pours the broth over the bowl of crab noodle to determine its deliciousness. The broth usually has a faint light yellow color from the freshly ground and thoroughly strained freshwater crab, meticulously boiled and seasoned to taste. When eating, it is recommended to add a bit of chili sauce, a distinctive condiment of Hai Phong.
That’s a brief description of the crab noodle bowl or “red pho” introduced by TasteAtlas. In reality, the dish might have some slight variations depending on the cook, the restaurant, and these modifications have gradually become standardized. However, not many people have had the chance to taste the traditional clay pot crab noodle dish of Hai Phong. It might not be as elaborate as today’s crab noodle bowls, but it holds a special place in the distant memories of many Hai Phong locals.
Being a vibrant port city, Hai Phong is home to hardworking laborers, traders, and people always on the move. You can often come across simple eateries outside factories and workshops, with small stools and bamboo mats as seating arrangements. The clay pot crab noodle pot was placed inside a large basket, wrapped with layers of old clothes, used blankets, and cotton fillings to retain the heat.
Back then, the dish did not have as many toppings as it does now; it simply consisted of crab broth, crab meat, savory fat cracklings for color, and some fresh green vegetables and spring onions. Later, as aluminum pots became more common, the traditional clay pot was gradually replaced, but the dish retained the name “clay pot crab noodle.”
Food enthusiasts, especially those passionate about crab noodles, can go into more detail about the distinct, flavorful, and nutritious Hai Phong’s crab noodle dish. However, this article is intended to introduce a bit about the dish for readers and travelers to discover and experience. Many people say that a food tour in Hai Phong without trying crab noodles is an incomplete journey!