Delicious Fish and Cellophane Noodle Soup Recipe

As the saying goes, “soup is good for the soul”, and I couldn’t agree more. Today, I’m excited to share with you my recipe for Canh Bun Tau, also known as Fish and Cellophane Noodle Soup. This traditional Vietnamese noodle soup is at the top of my list of all-time favorite comfort foods, and I am sure it will become one of yours too.

This recipe uses cellophane or glass noodles, which are made from mung bean starch and have a delicate transparent appearance when cooked. When combined with tender white fish fillet, scallions, sweet basil, ginger, and other aromatic ingredients – this dish is nothing short of a symphony of flavors.

Canh Bun Tau is easy to make, affordable and nutritious – perfect for any day of the week. It’s an excellent choice for those who love noodle soup but want to try something different from the classic pho or ramen.

So grab your apron and let’s get started on this culinary journey together. Trust me; your taste buds will thank you for it.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Canh Bun Tau (Fish and Cellophane Noodle Soup)
Canh Bun Tau (Fish and Cellophane Noodle Soup)

If you’re a fan of Vietnamese cuisine or noodle soups, Canh Bun Tau (Fish and Cellophane Noodle Soup) should be on your bucket list. I assure you that once you try it, it will quickly become one of your favorite dishes. Here are just a few reasons why you’ll love this recipe.

Firstly, the combination of savory fish and delicate cellophane noodles creates a flavor explosion in your mouth that is hard to beat. The use of turmeric powder and black pepper gives the soup base a unique, warm taste that complements the fish’s natural sweetness.

Secondly, Canh Bun Tau is versatile, and you can easily tailor it to suit your tastes since this dish is forgiving enough to handle all kinds of substitutions and variations. Want to add more veggies? Go ahead! Prefer a spicier version? Throw in some chili flakes or sriracha sauce.

Thirdly, Canh Bun Tau is not only tasty but also healthy. Fish fillets are packed with proteins and healthy fats; thus, they make for an excellent source of essential nutrients for your body. Cellophane noodles, on the other hand, provide energy while being low in calories.

Lastly, because this soup is served hot and steaming, it makes for a perfect comfort food during chilly evenings or when you need something soothing during cold seasons. With its exceptional flavor profile, versatility, nutritional value, and heartwarming quality, why wouldn’t you love this Vietnamese classic?

Ingredient List

 A hot steamy bowl of fish and cellophane noodle soup is perfect for any weather!
A hot steamy bowl of fish and cellophane noodle soup is perfect for any weather!

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this delicious Canh Bun Tau (Fish and Cellophane Noodle Soup). This recipe serves 6 people.

The primary ingredients:

  • 2 lb white fish fillet, such as halibut or cod (excellent with any other firm white fish, too)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1/4 black pepper

For the soup:

  • 10 cups water
  • 4 dried shrimp paste cubes
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste

For the garnish:

  • a handful of fresh sweet basil leaves
  • 1 spring onion, chopped

Substitutions and Variations:

If you prefer, you can use other types of fish for this soup. Some examples include salmon, snapper, tilapia, or even shrimp. You can also add water spinach, which is a traditional ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine. For a vegetarian version of this soup, substitute the protein with tofu or mushrooms of your choice.

The Recipe How-To

 Fresh herbs are a must-have for this recipe - they add a punch of flavour and aroma to the soup.
Fresh herbs are a must-have for this recipe – they add a punch of flavour and aroma to the soup.

Step 1: Preparing the Fish

  • 2 lb white fish fillet (halibut, cod) are excellent for this recipe
  • Rinse the fish fillet and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the fish fillet into 2-inch chunks.
  • Add salt, black pepper and turmeric powder to marinate the fish for around 5-10 minutes while preparing other ingredients.

Step 2: Making the Broth

  • In a large pot, sauté the chopped onion and minced garlic cloves in a tablespoon of oil until fragrant.
  • Add 6 cups of water, then add 1 tablespoon of dried shrimp paste, and 1 tablespoon of anchovy paste. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer.
  • Add the marinated fish to the pot and cook for about 10 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Skim gently to avoid breaking up the fish.

Step 3: Adding Cellophane Noodles”

  • 4 oz dried cellophane noodles can be found at most Asian markets or online
  • Soak noodles in cold water for 20 minutes to soften. Drain well.
  • Add the soaked noodles to the pot, stir gently.
  • Season with fish sauce (to taste), then bring back to a boil again.

Step 4: Adding Vegetables and Aromatics

  • Chop some spring onions and sweet basil leaves.
  • Add them into the boiling pot along with 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger and stir gently.
  • Turn off heat and let them sit for a few minutes before you serve.

Step 5: Serve up Deliciousness

  • Ladle some soup into each bowl, add more fish sauce if needed.
  • Top with extra herbs or chili flakes if desired.

Enjoy your hot bowl of deliciousness!

Substitutions and Variations

 Feel free to add more fish sauce, lime juice or chilli flakes to personalize the soup's taste.
Feel free to add more fish sauce, lime juice or chilli flakes to personalize the soup’s taste.

I love experimenting with my recipes and adapting them to my guests’ preferences, dietary restrictions, or pantry availability. Here are some variations and substitutions you can make with this recipe:

– Noodle swap: If you cannot find cellophane noodles, you can substitute them with bean thread noodles or glass noodles, which are also translucent and thin. Vietnamese banh canh noodle or Japanese udon noodle would work too.

– Fish fillet swap: While I recommend using white fish fillets like halibut or cod, you can swap them with other firm-fleshed fish like sea bass, grouper, snapper, tilapia or catfish. You could also use shrimp or crab meat instead of fish to make a shellfish cellophane noodle soup.

– Broth intensity: Some people like the clear broth in this soup, but others prefer a richer and bolder taste. If you want to amp up the broth’s savory umami-ness, mix in 1-2 tablespoons of dried shrimp paste (mam tom) or anchovy paste (ca chua). You could also infuse some torn kaffir lime leaves (la chanh) for a citrusy note.

– Herbal infusion: Sweet basil is a traditional herb used in this soup, but you could also add other fresh herbs like cilantro, mint or Thai basil for a fragrant boost. Some people also add a pinch of turmeric powder for its earthy flavor and yellow hue.

– Vegetarian alternative: If you want to make a vegetarian version of this soup, skip the fish and use vegetable broth instead of water. Saute sliced shiitake mushrooms with garlic for a meaty texture. Add julienned carrots, bell peppers or snow peas for more colors and crunchiness.

Remember that cooking is about creativity and flexibility. Don’t be afraid to mix and match ingredients and techniques that suit your taste buds and mood!

Serving and Pairing

 The fish bones and head add extra umami to the soup; don't skip them and you won't be disappointed.
The fish bones and head add extra umami to the soup; don’t skip them and you won’t be disappointed.

Canh Bun Tau (Fish and Cellophane Noodle Soup) is a delicious, nutritious, and filling dish that can be served as part of a meal or as a stand-alone soup. This classic Vietnamese soup is often enjoyed with a side dish of fresh herbs and vegetables such as basil leaves, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and sliced chilies to add extra flavor and texture to the dish.

To serve this soup, ladle it into bowls and top with sliced spring onions and fresh sweet basil leaves. For a more complete meal, serve the dish with steamed white rice or banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich) for dipping. The soup also pairs well with a light-bodied white wine like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, which complement the delicate flavors of the fish and noodles.

If you’re looking for alternative ways to enjoy Canh Bun Tau (Fish and Cellophane Noodle Soup), try serving it with other classic Vietnamese dishes such as Banh Canh (thick noodle soup), Bun Bo Hue (spicy beef noodle soup), or Bun Cha (grilled pork meatballs served over noodles). You can also experiment with adding different ingredients to the soup such as shrimp, beef, or tofu for a vegetarian option.

So go ahead and enjoy this delicious bowl of noodle soup with your friends and family. Whether you’re hosting a party or just enjoying a cozy night in, Canh Bun Tau is sure to satisfy your cravings for comfort food.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Prepping the noodles can be a hassle, but it's worth the effort!
Prepping the noodles can be a hassle, but it’s worth the effort!

Making the Canh Bun Tau soup ahead of time is a great way to save time for a party or gathering. To make ahead, simply cook the soup and let it cool down completely before storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The soup can be stored for up to 2 days without losing its flavor.

When ready to serve, gently reheat the soup on low heat in a pot on the stove until it comes to a simmer. You can add some water if needed to adjust the consistency, but be careful not to dilute the flavor too much by adding too much water.

If you have leftovers, store them in a separate container from the noodles as they tend to absorb too much liquid when stored together. You can also store the noodles separately in an airtight container and pour hot soup over them when ready to eat.

The cellophane noodles tend to soak up the soup broth over time, so it’s best to cook only what you will consume immediately. However, you can keep any remaining cooked noodles in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. When reheating cooked noodles, you can either heat them up in hot water or steam them quickly.

Overall, Canh Bun Tau is an excellent soup recipe that can be made ahead of time and stored easily for later use without losing its flavor profile. Just ensure that you handle all components separately when storing and reheating to maintain their quality.

Tips for Perfect Results

 This soup is not complete without some crunchy vegetables - sliced bok choy, bean
This soup is not complete without some crunchy vegetables – sliced bok choy, bean

To make the perfect Canh Bun Tau, follow these tips.

First, select fresh ingredients. Fresh ingredients enhance the flavors and ensure that the soup tastes its best. The white fish fillet should be cleaned and sliced into bite-sized pieces on the day you plan to cook it. Fresh spices like ginger and garlic also add a nice depth of flavor.

Secondly, do not overcook the noodles. Cellophane noodles are thin and delicate so they cook much faster than regular wheat noodles. For best results, soak them in cold water for a few minutes until they turn translucent, then boil them for only 2-3 minutes.

Thirdly, simmer your broth slowly. To bring out deep flavors, use low heat when simmering soup broth. A gentle simmer will allow all the ingredients to release their flavors into the broth without extracting any bitterness.

Fourthly, let your soup rest before serving it. After cooking your Canh Bun Tau soup, let it sit for at least ten minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to come together and settle in gently. Your patience will yield better tasting soup.

Fifthly, adjust seasoning according to taste. Fish sauce is quite salty so be careful when adding extra salt in this recipe. It’s important to remember that the seasoning won’t be perfect from the get-go – perfection comes with experience.

Sixthly, add herbs at the last minute. Adding fresh herbs like spring onions or sweet basil will add heaps of flavor as well as giving you a burst of freshness in every bite!

With these tips in mind, I guarantee that your Canh Bun Tau soup will taste great every time you make it!

Bottom Line

In conclusion, Canh Bun Tau (Fish and Cellophane Noodle Soup) is a delicious and nutritious soup that is easy to make and perfect for any occasion. With its delicate balance of flavors, this soup is a delight for the taste buds and will leave you craving for more. Whether you are looking for a quick lunch, a soothing dinner or a hearty meal for guests, this recipe is a must-try.

So if you are looking for an easy and delicious soup recipe that is full of flavor, try Canh Bun Tau. With its unique taste and texture, you won’t regret making it. And remember, you can always experiment with different types of ingredients and spices to make this recipe your own. So why wait? Gather the ingredients and start cooking today!

Canh Bun Tau (Fish and Cellophane Noodle Soup)

Canh Bun Tau (Fish and Cellophane Noodle Soup) Recipe

From the book, A Little Vietnamese Cookbook.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Vietnamese
Calories 200.4 kcal


  • 1/2 lb white fish fillet (halibut or cod are excellent)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger or 1 teaspoon pureed fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil or 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 4 leaves sweet basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried shrimp paste or 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 lemon, juice of
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (nuoc mam)
  • 1 1/2 ounces cellophane noodles, soaked (in warm water)
  • 2 stalks spring onions, chopped


  • Chop fish coarsely and cover with ginger, salt and pepper.
  • Set aside.
  • Heat oils in large saucepan and fry garlic and onions until light brown, then add turmeric, basil, and shrimp paste.
  • Add water, lemon juice, nuoc mam (fish sauce) and bring to a boil.
  • Add fish and cook for 4 minutes.
  • Add noodles and serve in individual bowls with chopped spring onions.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 283gCalories: 200.4kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 11.5gFat: 11.1gSaturated Fat: 1.6gCholesterol: 38.1mgSodium: 1050.8mgFiber: 0.9gSugar: 1.6g
Keyword < 30 Mins, Asian, Easy, Halibut, Stove Top, Vietnamese
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