Bun Rieu Cua Crab Noodle Soup

bun rieu
During the winter crab season we took full advantage, making sup mang cua (asparagus and crab soup) using fresh dungeness crabs. But we also had some king crab meat given to us by The Food Addicts and so we made some bun rieu (crab noodle soup). This soup is very hearty and great during the winter months as it combines some of our favorite ingredients of tomatoes, tofu, and crab.
Traditionally this soup is made with whole blue crabs which are then pounded in a large mortar/pestle. The crab meat is separated from the crushed body. The body of the crushed crab is then put into a fine mesh cloth or sieve and water is then strained through, forming the base of the broth. Do I make my bun rieu this way? Heck no!! It’s too time consuming! :) But when Hong was growing up, he would help his mom make bun rieu this way. The result of is a much more intense crab flavored broth.
So if Hong want’s to his bun rieu to taste like his mom, he better do the extra work. :) For me, a good and easy alternative is the all purpose pork broth that I use to make many of my soups. But if I’m really pressed for time, canned chicken broth will also do. 

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.


bun rieu
Bun Rieu Cua Crab Noodle Soup
Printable Recipe 

  • 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
Soak dried shrimps until softened, roughly about 1hr, and then mince finely. A small food chopper will work nicely here. 

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.

rau muong
Serve bun rieu with plenty of fresh herbs and veggies. Common accompaniments include: 

  • 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.


bun rieu
With crab season and the cold weather we’ve been having lately, bun rieu is a great soup to enjoy. But honestly, it’s soo delicious and not labor intensive that we enjoy eating this soup year round and think you will too.
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82 Responses to “Bun Rieu Cua Crab Noodle Soup”

  1. 1

    foodhoe — January 6, 2010 @ 3:20 pm

    wow! I just had a bowl last week and wondered exactly what all the stuff was in the soup. It all seemed so very mysterious. Your photos look wonderful.

  2. 2

    anhesty — January 6, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

    looks delish! my hubby makes a killer pot of bun rieu too!

  3. 3

    pigpigscorner — January 6, 2010 @ 8:06 pm

    wow that's such a cool tool! The crab meat mixture sounds amazing!

  4. 4

    CITYNITZ — January 6, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

    My FAVORITE! Thanks for the recipe!

  5. 5

    kiss my spatula — January 6, 2010 @ 9:13 pm

    that is the most gorgeous bowl of bun rieu that i have ever laid eyes on. unbelievable!!

  6. 6

    krissy @ the food addicts — January 6, 2010 @ 9:34 pm

    wow, didn't even know there was a utensil to split the rau muong! i've always seen my mom and aunt just cut them by hand which takes forever. i need to make this with the king crab we still have at home. so little time.. so much to do. btw, nice nails kim!

  7. 7

    Ravenous Couple — January 6, 2010 @ 10:33 pm

    Foodhoe: Yes, the bun rieu crab mixture does seem very nebulous, but it's pretty simple list of ingredients that really easy to make.

    anhesty: ooh…we'll have to check out your version!

    pigpigcorner: That tool is easily overlooked and not many people know about it!

    citynitz: Thanks!! Happy New Years!

    KSM: Awww shucks, you're totally overblowing it.. but thanks!!

    Krissy: The rau muong splitting tool is quite the time savor and makes perfect cuts! :)

  8. 8

    Gastronomer — January 7, 2010 @ 12:30 am

    Happy New Year, guys!

    Your bun rieu looks rac ngon. Wish you guys lived closer. Would love to have constant access to your leftovers!

  9. 9

    5 Star Foodie — January 7, 2010 @ 2:29 am

    Crab noodle soup sounds excellent! I would love to make it during our blue crab season here. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe, bookmarked!

  10. 10

    Tung — January 7, 2010 @ 4:07 am

    i see that kim completed her assignment…lol. again, a great dish. i'm now on a roll of eating 2 out of 2 of ur most recent posts…haha.

  11. 11

    Ravenous Couple — January 7, 2010 @ 4:14 am

    gastronomer: that's what we don't like about LA, a few miles apart can mean an hour in traffic :)

    5 star foodie: even though it's traditionally made with fresh crab meat, nowadays hardly anyone we know make it that way..

    Tung: You're our official guinea pig! :)

  12. 12

    Table Talk — January 7, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

    Ooh, this sounds like it is packed with flavor. I have never cooked with the minced crab in spices. Will be fun to hunt it down in our local Asian market. Don't know if they will have that handy little tool for the rau muong though…that's pretty cool.

    Happy new year!

  13. 13

    Tricerapops — January 7, 2010 @ 5:02 pm

    aaaaaaah!!!!!! this is my ABSOLUTE favorite dish of all time. joke around our house is we call it 'bun for rieu!'

  14. 14

    Jessica@Foodmayhem — January 7, 2010 @ 7:34 pm

    Any chance you know a good place to get this in NY? There's so many dishes you make me want to try, and yet there aren't any good places for me to get them here. =(

  15. 15

    David(HoustonWok) — January 7, 2010 @ 9:21 pm

    I always love your pretty pictures,it makes the food that much more delicious and you know, I don't think there is a identical way to make this,I make it one way, you make it another,Hong's Mom has her method,my G ma has her way,either way, it's always good, thanks for sharing. BTW Happy New year to you both

  16. 16

    noobcook — January 8, 2010 @ 3:49 am

    I love the $2 utensil u used, so handy! This is a comforting and beautiful bowl of soup noodles.

  17. 17

    Ravenous Couple — January 8, 2010 @ 3:39 pm

    TableTalk: Happy New years to you and yours!

    Tricerapops: That's hilarious..we'll have to copy that! :)

    Jessica: I think Pho Xe Lua on mulberry has it, but only special on the weekends. Give them a call and ask :)

    David: You're absolutely right–happy new years!

    noobcook: there are old ladies that sit in front of the market and sell these split rau muong :)

  18. 18

    Julia — January 8, 2010 @ 4:06 pm

    That looks insanely good. I want that right now. I'll just have to settle for licking the screen. (Eww. sorry about that.)
    I love that $2 implement of splitting. I'm sure it's still a tedious chore. You guys are dedicated. I like that. Somebody has to be. It's certainly not me!

  19. 19

    Rasa Malaysia — January 8, 2010 @ 5:39 pm

    This is my favorite-est Viet noodles.

  20. 20

    OysterCulture — January 9, 2010 @ 1:03 am

    Oh my, looks amazing. I need a few of the ingredients so I see a quick dash to the grocery store in my future.

  21. 21

    Jolene Ko — January 9, 2010 @ 3:21 am

    Seriously this is the one stop shop for vietnamese recipes!

  22. 22

    Yen — January 9, 2010 @ 9:37 am

    I was craving for this but didn't have the time to make it, then I saw your photos and it made me crave for it even more. Your bun rieu looks sooo good!

  23. 23

    Ju (The Little Teochew) — January 9, 2010 @ 11:07 am

    Wow! It must be very flavourful and delicious. I can imagine slurping up the soup!!

  24. 24

    Kung Food Panda — January 9, 2010 @ 5:41 pm

    I agree 100% to what Cathy, Ms. Gastronomer stated, I wish you guys lived closer! Bun Rieu is some damn good stuff! :)

  25. 25

    Jessica@Foodmayhem — January 10, 2010 @ 4:44 am

    I called and they do serve it on the weekend! Hope to try it soon!!

  26. 26

    SprinkleBakes — January 10, 2010 @ 9:25 pm

    This looks great! I've really enjoyed browsing your blog.

  27. 27

    Ellie — January 11, 2010 @ 2:05 am

    love the gadget that make the split rau muong! What a great bowl of noodle soup.

  28. 28

    Miss.Adventure — January 11, 2010 @ 2:45 am

    Wow! I have a major craving for bun rieu now!

  29. 29

    tigerfish — January 11, 2010 @ 2:53 am

    I would like to have a chance to try such a crab noodles soup.

  30. 30

    3 hungry tummies — January 11, 2010 @ 3:27 am

    lovely bowl of noodle! I never made this because I'm too lazy to pick the crab meat, I must try the can too!

  31. 31

    www.dhaleb.com — January 11, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

    Stunning photos! And I NEED this device! Off to Chinatown I go!

  32. 32

    Felicia — January 14, 2010 @ 5:35 am

    Thanks so much for the recipe, I made a big pot last weekend and have been happily eating it since :) Keep up the good work!!!!

  33. 33

    Joy — January 18, 2010 @ 3:22 pm

    This is beaaaautiful!!! I love all the colors that are going on in the bowl :) I love the fried tofu mmmmm I can only imagine the smells that this dish would have, if only I had it in my belly…like right now.

  34. 34

    Bonnibella — January 26, 2010 @ 10:50 pm

    I must get that device to cut rau muong. I did not know that existed. I use to painstaking split them with a knife. A very useful tip.

  35. 35

    Ravenous Couple — January 30, 2010 @ 7:05 pm

    Bun rieu is so simple to make, you all should try it! I think for Tet, we'll have a giveaway for that rau muong splitter!

  36. 36

    Lynn — March 2, 2010 @ 8:01 pm

    Thank you for commenting on my blog! I'm so glad you did because it let me find yours. My mother is Vietnamese and I grew up loving Vietnamese food but it is impossible to get recipes out of her because she doesn't measure anything. It's always "A little bit of this, a little bit of that". We grew up in Alaska and my mom would always make bun rieu with fresh Alaskan king crab. I'm thrilled that you posted this recipe online! Thanks!

  37. 37

    Tammy — March 18, 2010 @ 1:32 am

    Thanks for the amazing post! Your recipes and instructions are so easy to follow. The pictures are the BEST!!! I am hungry now!

  38. 38

    tyvander — August 18, 2010 @ 11:58 am

    gonna attempt to make this tomorrow. Of course, I called my mom for specific questions and, like the blogger above, she goes by "a little bit of that, a little bit of this." ugh! One thing she did suggest is to have finely sliced red cabbage for garnish. So yummy and adds to the crunchyness factor, especially since it's hard to find rau muong in these parts [went to three asian grocers!!]

    thanks for posting – I know I'm necroing but kudos once again.

  39. 39

    Jessie — November 18, 2010 @ 5:23 pm

    I know that depending on where you live, the asian stores do not carry certain vegetables or maybe even that utensil, which I will surely keep an eye out for, but it'd be great to experiment with other veggies and see what the taste is like.

    I've order this every time we go to my boyfriend's aunt's restaurant, but only recently did I learn the name of it. I've followed you both for a while now and finally I have a recipe to try and make it on my own! Thank you so much!

    I know all recipes will surely differ from others and maybe with a little experimenting, I might have my own one day, but given yours will always be the "original" I got it from.

    Thank you!

  40. 40

    heguiberto — January 31, 2011 @ 9:51 pm

    What an exciting recipe. my coworker reproduced it at home and was eating the leftover at the kitchen at work. He just sent me this link. I have most of the ingredients at home. will try it soon. thanks for sahring!

  41. 41

    dining table — March 18, 2011 @ 6:55 am

    Wow! This requires a lot of work to be done! I like it. It looks delicious and tasty!

  42. 42

    John Lair — March 23, 2011 @ 2:37 am

    I'm trying to learn cooking since I'm living independently. Thank God I found your blog. I'll try to cook this one tomorrow, and I hope angels will help me to make my meal taste delicious. LOL! Honestly, I want to own a restaurant which caters Asian foods. Maybe if I'm ready to manage a business, I'll get my capital from merchant loans.

  43. 43

    Thuy Phan In Focus Ravenous Couple — May 18, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

    [...] a meal of bun rieu and some banh cam, we spent a better half an afternoon sharing our story. If you have a about 20 [...]

  44. 44

    Miss Sunshine — June 1, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

    is the fine shrimp paste Mam Ruoc? and would it taste allot better with Pork Broth than Chicken?, i wanna try this tonightttt! im excited and nervous at the same time

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — June 1st, 2011 @ 2:52 pm

      yes, this the fine shrimp paste is mam ruoc. If we’re in a hurry and can’t make our own pork broth, then we go with chicken broth. Otherwise they’re both pretty good!

  45. 45

    Kath77 — June 2, 2011 @ 4:17 am

    We made this today at a friends house!! Sooo delicious and not that hard! Just had leftovers reheated and still so good. THankyou for all the tips! So handy for us generation who always watched out parents cook but could never replicate what they did, now we can with recipes like this!

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — June 2nd, 2011 @ 10:33 am

      we’re so glad it worked out for you and yes, now you can make everything your parents made for you and then some!

  46. 46

    Blake — June 24, 2011 @ 12:09 am

    Again, how long is the pate good for? Thane again.

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — June 24th, 2011 @ 3:19 pm

      probably up to a week, but freezable.

  47. 47

    Amy — July 25, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

    Do you know approximately how many servings this recipe feeds? I am planning on making this tomorrow night for 5 people. Thanks! Love your blog!

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — July 25th, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

      should feed 5 ok, but recipe is easily adjustable. good luck!

  48. 48

    Avie — October 4, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

    Wow!! Love your pics! They say that we eat with our eyes, and my eyes are very pleased! I’d made this dish before, but clearly had some ingredients missing. Will definitely try your recipe out. Thank you for your thorough and clear easy to follow recipe and instructions! Thank you for sharing!

  49. 49

    Tuyet N. — January 31, 2012 @ 9:47 pm

    Thank you SO MUCH for this awesome recipe!! I’ve made this twice already and I love how much time it saves me. I used to make this the old fashion way with fresh crab and stock, but it took way too long. It’s my boyfriend’s favorite noodle soup so i love being able to make it knowing it won’t take me hours in the kitchen. Thanks again!! You guys are awesome!

  50. 50

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  51. 51

    Bun Rieu in Saigon – Vietnamese Crab and Tomato Soup — ginger and scotch — June 4, 2012 @ 9:44 am

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  52. 52

    Bun Rieu Cua Vietnamese Crab Noodle Soup | Stuff My Mom Made — July 14, 2012 @ 12:30 am

    [...] Bun Rieu Cua Crab Noodle Soup Wednesday, January 6, 2010  |  55 comments » During the winter crab season we took full advantage, making sup mang cua (asparagus and crab soup) using fresh dungeness crabs. But we also had some king crab meat given to us byThe Food Addicts and so we made some bun rieu (crab noodle soup). This soup is very hearty and great during the winter months as it combines some of our favorite ingredients of tomatoes, tofu, and crab. Traditionally this soup is made with whole blue crabs which are then pounded in a large mortar/pestle. The crab meat is separated from the crushed body. The body of the crushed crab is then put into a fine mesh cloth or sieve and water is then strained through, forming the base of the broth. Do I make my bun rieu this way? Heck no!! It’s too time consuming!  But when Hong was growing up, he would help his mom make bun rieu this way. The result of is a much more intense crab flavored broth. So if Hong want’s to his bun rieu to taste like his mom, he better do the extra work.  For me, a good and easy alternative is the all purpose pork broth that I use to make many of my soups. But if I’m really pressed for time, canned chicken broth will also do. [...]

  53. 53

    Tom — July 15, 2012 @ 3:41 am

    Awesome, just back from VN. I found another blog with the recipe bur yours looks very accomplished, think I might try your recipe as well. Keep up the great work and will definitely link up to your blog…

  54. 54

    Creative Update 16 « Creative Update — September 4, 2012 @ 3:26 pm

    [...] I have tried a few of their recipes and one of my favorites is the crab noodle soup:  http://www.theravenouscouple.com/2010/01/bun-rieu-cua-crab-noodle-soup.html. Their recipes are great and remind me of my childhood. I also had a chance to meet the couple at a [...]

  55. 55

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  56. 56

    bruce — November 7, 2012 @ 2:54 am

    My 2 favorite soup Are this one and pho . Glad to see you put recipe on this web site .thanks very much now see ya as I am off to make A pot.):

  57. 57

    Judy — November 24, 2012 @ 5:52 pm

    AMAZING. I’d never seen this dish before when I was travelling in Vietnam, is this something homemade? I’d love to taste this dish since the flavours are all just melting together in my head!

  58. 58

    Nikki W — December 2, 2012 @ 8:46 am

    Are you in the process of publishing your recipes and photos in a cookbook? This one is a fave of mine but we’ve tried a couple others and all very yummy…It would be great to have your recipes beautifully compiled in book, existing amongst any foodie’s collection.

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — December 3rd, 2012 @ 10:26 am

      thank you for the feed back…as of now. no plans so visit us on the web often!

  59. 59

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  60. 60

    Chillii — January 25, 2013 @ 7:20 am

    That look amazing!
    Can you tell me what is ground pork? Just normal pork or??

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — January 27th, 2013 @ 8:13 pm

      yes, you can use ground pork or even chicken if you prefer. sometimes we substitute with crab meat too

  61. 61

    love bun rieu | tandem in love — April 11, 2013 @ 10:53 pm

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  62. 62

    Big tummy — July 20, 2013 @ 4:46 am

    I try it. Love it. My sister ask for the recipe So I told her about your websites. Will try other recipes of yours as well.

  63. 63

    Natalie — August 4, 2013 @ 7:24 am

    Do you happen to know from where in Vietnam Bun Rieu originated? I’ve heard both “around Hanoi” and “around the Mekong Delta”, which are very different. (By the way, I LOVE your website!!!)

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — August 12th, 2013 @ 8:33 am

      not for certain about this one and never explored the origins. all of our friends and family from both regions make this dish, but would if have to guess, it would be a southern dish as its similar to canh chua in some ways and crab more abundant in the south…thanks for stopping by!

  64. 64

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  65. 65

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  66. 66

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  67. 67

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  68. 68

    Vicky — December 26, 2013 @ 7:26 pm

    I never liked pho. But bun rieu–man, I can have that all the time. Plus a few pieces of pork blood. My mom taught me a very simple recipe and being Chinese, all broths were homemade :) I cannot wait to try this. Thank you for sharing this. We love our crab in San Francisco!

  69. 69

    T — January 6, 2014 @ 6:50 pm

    How do you make the ckn stock?

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — January 7th, 2014 @ 10:54 am

      you can simply use canned stock

  70. 70

    van — February 15, 2014 @ 1:30 pm

    This is exactly what I want to eat tonight with a snow storm brewing outside.

    How many does this serve? I just want to make enough for 2…so a total of 4 bowls worth. :)

  71. 71

    bun rieu | FLAVOR ADVENTURES — February 16, 2014 @ 7:22 pm

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  72. 72

    Beelinda — March 30, 2014 @ 6:23 pm

    Thank you very much for this recipe. I cooked it for the family today and they absolutely love it. I remember my mom cooking this when I was younger however it has been a while since I had it. It tasted like home. Thank you again:)

  73. 73

    blue — April 19, 2014 @ 6:37 am

    I printed out the recipe for my mom. The print function on the web page printed the recipe and ALL of the comments. Wasted close to 20 sheets of paper. Very disappointed.

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — April 23rd, 2014 @ 11:56 am

      sorry, and thanks for letting us know! didn’t know about that, must be a bug.

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