How to Make Canh Bầu Tôm (Vietnamese Opo Squash Soup)
How to make canh bầu tôm or Vietnamese opo squash soup with shrimp! It has a clear broth that is light, healthy, and tasty. Definitely one of my favorite Vietnamese soups!
What is Canh Bầu Tôm?
Canh is the Vietnamese word for soup, bầu is opo squash, and tôm is shrimp. Opo squash is a gourd, which is a vegetable-like fruit. It resembles chayote and kohlrabi. In Vietnamese culture, opo squash is often used to make soups. This is not a dish that you would find at a restaurant but it is classic, comforting Vietnamese home cooking.
Every meal my parents made growing up included a meat, veggie, and soup dish. Everything was served with rice and family-style of course. I always looked forward to the days when they would make canh bầu. It has a clear broth that is light, healthy, and tasty. Definitely one of my favorite Vietnamese soups!
There are different variations of canh bầu. My favorite is the recipe I am sharing here which is made with fresh shrimp and shredded opo squash.
Other common proteins used for this soup are pork ribs and dried shrimp. The opo squash itself can also be cut into bigger chunks or slices. I prefer the texture of it shredded and think that it is easier to eat also.
How to Cut Opo Squash
As mentioned previously, canh bầu can be made with opo squash that is shredded or cut into chunks. First remove the skin and cut off the ends. Cutting it into chunks would be the simplest. Depending on the size, you can slice it into halves or quarters in about 2 inch pieces. I always discard the seeds in the middle because I am not a fan of the mushy texture. Alternatively to cut it into shreds, you can use a shredder/peeler-specifically the kind that has a wavy zig zag edge.
My parents cut it by partially chopping the opo squash vertically and repeatedly with a knife while holding it, then slicing down the chopped portion to get shreds. This is more difficult to do but I like the varied texture that it gives the soup. If you choose to do it this way, be careful not to cut yourself.
Where to Buy Opo Squash
Look for opo squash at your local Asian or Vietnamese grocery store. They should be placed by the veggies. It is called trái bầu in Vietnamese and may also be called opo squash, calabash, or bottle gourd. Opo squash have a light green color, some have darker green patterns, and are about the size of your arm. My parents grow these in their backyard and they can get pretty big! I am lucky that they share them with me fresh from their garden!
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Canh Bầu Tôm (Vietnamese Opo Squash Soup)
- 1 (~2 lbs) opo squash/trái bầu
- 1 tbs chicken bouillon
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 6 cups water
- 2 green onions, sliced
- a pinch black pepper
- ½ lb shrimp, peeled & deveined
- ¼ tsp fish sauce
- ¼ tsp chicken bouillon
- a pinch black pepper
- Shred or cut opo squash into chunks. Discard seeds in the middle.
- Mince shrimp and combine ingredients in shrimp mixture in a bowl.
- Boil water in a pot on medium heat.
- Add small spoonfuls of the shrimp mixture to the boiling water. Skim off any foam from the top.
- Add opo squash, chicken bouillon, salt, and sugar. Cook for about 10 minutes or until squash is soft and translucent.
- Top with green onions, black pepper, and enjoy!