Unlike pho or bun bo hue where there are slices of meat added, the key protein component to this dish is the crab meat mixture which adds flavor as well as texture to the soup. Some cooks like it more formed, almost like a cake. Some like it more airy and feathery, almost like egg drop soup. We like ours somewhere in between. You can adjust how you like it by the ratio of egg to meat in the recipe below. For a more formed version, add less egg and vice versa. Other optional additions include whole shrimp or oc/periwinkle.
- 12 cups of pork (pork broth recipe here) or chicken stock
- can of 14 oz of crab meat paste in spices (many brands available, we like Lee Brand)
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup of crab meat, either fresh or canned/frozen drained
- 1/4 lb of ground pork
- 1/2 tbs of fish sauce
- 1/2 tbs of sugar
- 1 tbs of finely chopped shallots
- 1 tsp of ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp of of fine shrimp paste
- 2 tablespoon of dried shrimp (soaked in warm water)
- 4 medium to large ripe tomatoes (quartered)
- 10 medium sized fried tofu (halved)
- 2 tbs tomato paste or 1 tbs of annato seed oil mixture (see this post)
- 1 packet of vermicelli noodles
Cook the vermicelli noodles and set aside. At the same time add pork or chicken stock into large pot and bring to boil.
In the meantime, make the crab mixture. Combine ground pork, crab, can of crab meat in spices, shallots, fine shrimp paste, fish sauce, coarsely chopped dried shrimps, pepper, and sugar. Add the beaten eggs and mix well. When the stock comes to a boil, slowly add this crab mixture into stock. Now add the tomatoes and tofu and bring to boil again. Finally, season stock with additional salt or fish sauce. Mix in tomato paste or annato seed oil for nice distinctive reddish color broth.
Add vermicilli noodles to bowl and ladle on the bun rieu.
- chopped green onion and cilantro
- perilla, mint, lime wedges
- bean sprouts
- split water spinach/ong choy/kang kong/rau muong stems
- fine shrimp paste
To make the split rau muong, there’s a very very high tech process…in the form of a $2 utensil you see above. It’s composed of a thin rod and at the end, a sharp turbine like cutting edge. Pluck the leaves of the rau muong and insert the long metal rod into the stem opening. With one hand hold the device at the top and with the other, grab the stem and with a quick fluid motion, push the stem through the blade opening. These special devices are often sold at the Asian markets and are so handy in making perfectly split rau moung stems which gives bun rieu a refreshing crunch.