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Friday, April 09, 2010

Canh Tao/Rong Bien (Vietnamese Seaweed Soup)

Canh Tao Rong Bien (Vietnamese Seaweed Soup) 1

After I made the Canh Du Du (Vietnamese Papaya Soup), I remembered that Koreans often serve seaweed soup to new mothers to replenish iron. I decided to make Canh Rong Bien (Vietnamese Seaweed Soup) instead. My mom used to make this soup quite often when I was growing up. When I saw a package of laver at the grocery store, I purchased it with this soup in mind.

The type of seaweed used in this soup is not the same type used in making sushi. This laver is black with a purplish tint, is dried in thick sheets, and is not seasoned. Don't substitute as nori is far too salty for this type of preparation.

I think my mom used to make this with just a pork broth. Gosh, it's been so long I can't remember. I had leftover broth from making Mi Quang (Vietnamese Quang Nam-style Turmeric Rice Noodles with Pork and Shrimp) so I used that instead. The shrimp and crab in the mi quang broth actually went really well with the seaweed. So you can make pork broth if you wish, but I've modified the directions in this recipe for a simplified version of the mi quang broth instead.

Canh Tao Rong Bien (Vietnamese Seaweed Soup) 2

Canh Tao/Rong Bien (Vietnamese Seaweed Soup)

For a 3-quart pot, you'll need:
Half a dozen shrimp, minced
1/4 lb ground pork
1 tomato, finely diced
2 sheets of dried laver
1/2 tsp salt
1 tblsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce), or more according to taste

If you don't want to make this broth, just make Canh (Vietnamese Soup Broth).

Fill a 5-quart stock pot about halfway with water.

I like to buy shrimp with heads on so I can use the shells and heads for soup. Wash and peel the shrimp. Toss the shells and heads into the pot of water and let simmer on high for about 15 minutes.

The laver sheets will come in a pack like this.

Canh Tao Rong Bien (Vietnamese Seaweed Soup) 3

You just need one or two sheets, depending on how much seaweed you like. The seaweed strands can be rather long so you might want to cut them into smaller squares before adding them into the pot.

Canh Tao Rong Bien (Vietnamese Seaweed Soup) 4

Meanwhile, mince the shrimp and finely dice the tomato.

Scoop out the shrimp shells. Add in the minced shrimp, diced tomato, and ground pork. Add salt and fish sauce and season to taste.

Canh Tao Rong Bien (Vietnamese Seaweed Soup) 5

Add the seaweed and stir until the seaweed is all moistened and the soup is evenly mixed.

Canh Tao Rong Bien (Vietnamese Seaweed Soup) 6

Serve plain or add rice if you want to make it a meal.

Canh Tao Rong Bien (Vietnamese Seaweed Soup) 7


Similar light Vietnamese soups:
Canh Bap Cai Bac Thao (Vietnamese Napa Cabbage Soup)
Canh Bap Cai Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Cabbage Soup)
Canh Bi Voi Tom (Winter Melon Soup with Shrimp)
Canh Bi/Bau Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Pork-Stuffed Winter Melon Soup)
Canh Chua Ca (Vietnamese Sour Fish Soup)
Canh Chua Tom (Vietnamese Sour Shrimp Soup)
Canh Cu Sen (Vietnamese Lotus Root Soup)
Canh Du Du (Vietnamese Papaya Soup)
Canh O/Kho Qua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup)
Canh Rau Cuu Ky (Vietnamese (Chinese) Boxthorn Soup)

1 year ago today, Bamboodles Restaurant - San Gabriel (Closed).
2 years ago today, Angkor Thom: Victory Gate, Bayon Temple, Prasats Suor Prat, Terrace of the Leper King, Terrace of the Elephants, and Phimeanakas - Cambodia.
3 years ago today, Japanese Gobo Root (Burdock) Fries.


  1. Yum, another soup that I grew up with! This is one of my favorites. I loved this as a kid and now as an adult. I just have trouble finding the right kind of seaweed sometimes.

  2. I have seaweed soup quite often too, although my preparation is different. Just pork, seaweed, egg, and then a bit of vinegar to top it off.

  3. Ohh brings back good memories! My mothers version was just mince pork in a pork broth but with dried shrimp rather than the fresh ones you used! Yummy!

  4. Oooooooooooooh seaweed soup! We use those discs of seaweed too; except that our seaweed soup here typically has pork, carrots, swirled egg white and even squid and baby corn. The broth is a plain pork or chicken-based stock, I think.

  5. Looks really like the Chinese seaweed soup we have at home too. I'll add some fish sauce next time to mine :)

  6. I've had Japanese soups with seaweed, but never a Vietnamese one. I'm not super wild about the taste, but might be worth a try, given it's quite different from previous seaweed soups I've had.

    Any plans to write up and post your Mi Quang recipe?

  7. Carmen,
    That's why when I saw this seaweed, I bought it to save just in case.

    Vinegar. I hadn't thought of that, but it'd be a nice addition to cut the sea flavor. Red or black?

    I think my mom's was probably like that too. It's been so long since I've had it since she usually cooks other stuff when I'm home.

    I think all those additions sound great!

    I add fish sauce to all my soups. :P

    Haha. Yeah, actually, I meant to post the Mi Quang recipe before I blogged this one. Just a little off track. :P

  8. WC,
    Usually it is white as it does not affect the color that much, but I also use black vinegar as well sometimes.

  9. ETE,
    I'll keep in mind to add vinegar next time I eat this then.


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