Bun Rieu (with recipe this time)
I’ve already told you about my fondness for bun rieu in a previous entry. I made it once with my mom but never wrote down her recipe. At the time, learning the recipe wasn’t my goal–I just wanted to spend time together. This time, I made the bun rieu myself. Now that she’s not around, I always think about her when I cook.
Bun rieu is very flexible and everyone makes it a little differently. I’ve had it with or without shrimp, pork blood cubes, pork…one time I even had a bowl with a ketchup-based soup base (not recommended! I never ate there again). When I cooked with my mom, we didn’t use any ground pork or crab–just dried shrimp–and we started off by sauteeing the tomatoes and green onions. I cut my onions large because I like the color but don’t prefer to eat them. Years ago, my cousin put quail eggs in which I love but have never seen done anywhere else. I based my personal recipe on what I like and what I grew up with. This recipe is easily adjustable to what you have around and your own personal preferences.
I added an extra egg to the recipe below because I want my rieu to hold together a little better than in the picture above. In my sleep, I must have been subconsciously thinking about the loose state of my rieu because I woke up with the memory of my mom instructing me not to stir the rieu so much that it becomes crumbly but to stir it a little so that it doesn’t become a huge raft.
For the soup:
- 8 cups chicken or pork broth
- ~(1) 7 oz jar of spicy crab paste. I used this kind but I’ve also seen my family use this one. You don’t need to be exact. Adding more will make it more salty and flavorful, adding less will make it less so.
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 small can crab meat (or a fistful of the fresh stuff)
- 1/8 lb ground pork
- 1/4 Tbs fish sauce
- 1/4 Tbs sugar
- 1 Tbs shallots
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp shrimp paste (mam tom)
- 1 Tbsp dried shrimp
- 2-3 medium sized ripe tomatoes
- 4-5 green onion stalks, cut in 2-inch lengths
- 10-12 pieces fried tofu
- 1 can quail eggs
Fixins (use and add to your liking):
- vermicelli noodles (I like this kind)
- thinly shredded cabbage
- bean sprouts
- pork cake (gio)
- cooked shrimp
- lime wedges
- chopped green onions, mint, cilantro
- extra shrimp paste to taste
- Soak dried shrimp in warm water for ~1 hour. Drain and add to food processor with shallots until finely minced.
- Bring 8 cups of broth to a boil. You should also start the water for your vermicelli so everything is finished at the same time.
- For the rieu (crab mixture): mix together crab paste, eggs, crab meat, pork, fish sauce, sugar, shallots, black pepper, shrimp paste, and dried shrimp.
- When the broth comes to a boil, add the crab mixture into the stock. Mix it a little so you don’t have a giant raft of rieu in your soup. At the same time, don’t mix too much otherwise your rieu will come apart like mine did.
- Add tomatoes, green onions and tofu and bring to a boil. Don’t let this boil for too long or your tomatoes will turn to mush. Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or shrimp paste to your liking.
- When you’re almost ready to eat, add the can of quail eggs so they come to temperature.
- In a large bowl, add vermicelli noodles and whatever fixins you want. Ladle soup over the top, garnish with green things (I rarely bother), squeeze some lime and you’re ready to eat!