Mom’s Bún Riêu Cua: Vietnamese crab and tomato soup vermicelli

We are finding ourselves progressively grounded these days with all these evolving restrictions being put in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Here in Toronto, school is out, all major league sports are on hold, public facilities are closed, large gatherings are cancelled, and we are basically being told to stay at home as much as possible.

Once the restaurants start shutting down, we are done for! I suppose we’ll be doing a lot more home cooking in that case. Here’s another recipe we tested out this weekend, to help us recapture the days when we were still carefree and travelling, enjoying amazing food in Vietnam.

Bún riêu is a traditional Vietnamese soup made of pork and rice vermicelli noodles. There are a few varieties, but the one taught to us by my mom, bún riêu cua, includes crab and tomatoes. Its fresh sour flavour makes it a popular dish during the summer months in Vietnam, but it’s a nice hot broth that can still be enjoyed in cooler seasons.

Recipe

Servings: 4 | Prep time: 10 minutes | Ready time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 jar (200 g) Bún Riêu Cua spicy crab paste
  • 50 g dried shrimp (optional)
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2-3 lbs tomatoes, sliced into wedges
  • 1 egg
  • ½ lb bean sprouts
  • 1 package (340 g) vermicelli noodles
  • Vietnamese mint to garnish
  • Lime wedges

Steps

1) Boil 1-2 litres water in a large pot, add vermicelli noodles and cook for 1-2 minutes. Simmer for additional 5-10 minutes, then drain water and rinse the noodles with cool water. Set aside.

2) In a large bowl, mix together the ground pork, spicy crab paste, and egg. Set aside.

3) Wash the dried shrimp, green onion, bean sprouts, Vietnamese mint, and tomatoes. Set aside.

4) Start preparing the soup by boiling 1-2 litres of water in a large pot. Add dried shrimp, and cook at low heat for 10-15 minutes.

5) Increase heat back to high, then add pork mixture 1 tablespoon at a time into the soup. Allow to reach a rolling boil, and cook at medium heat for 10 minutes.

6) Add tomatoes and green onion, increase back to a boil and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.

7) Serve soup on top of vermicelli noodles. Garnish with bean sprouts, Vietnamese mint, and a bit of lime juice.

🧑🏻 Notes from Mom

Make sure that your soup reaches a steady boil to avoid having the pork mixture crumble while cooking, which happened during our preparation. The idea is to create medium sized meatballs.

This is the southern Vietnamese version of bún riêu, featuring spicy crab paste. You may find variants from north Vietnam that use shrimp paste instead. The paste is probably the most challenging ingredient to source, but can be found at most well-stocked Asian supermarkets.

As mentioned, the dried shrimp are optional, but they add a little extra texture. They can also be found at most Asian grocers.

Enjoy your taste of Vietnam!