Bun Rieu: A Hearty and Satisfying Vietnamese Noodle Soup

This Bun Rieu recipe, learned from my mom is a delightful Vietnamese dish that combines the flavors of crab, tomatoes, and aromatic herbs. The broth is rich and savory, and the addition of rice vermicelli noodles and fresh herbs adds a refreshing touch. It’s a recipe that brings back memories of family and tradition. Give it a try, add some Fix Hot Sauce – Chili Pepper sauce and experience the authentic taste of homemade bun rieu!

Bun Rieu vs. Pho

Pho is undeniably well-known and has gained popularity worldwide. It has become a beloved Vietnamese dish that many people are familiar with. However, you’re absolutely right that not as many people are aware of the deliciousness of Bun Rieu. It’s like a hidden gem, known to those who have explored the depths of Vietnamese cuisine. The unique combination of crab, tomatoes, and aromatic herbs in bun rieu sets it apart from other noodle soups.

It is a recipe that has been passed down through generations and cherished by those in the know. So, if you’re one of the lucky ones who has discovered the wonders of bun rieu, consider yourself part of a special group that appreciates the nuances of Vietnamese cuisine.

Bun rieu is a specialty dish that you won’t find in every pho restaurant. While pho is more widely available, bun rieu tends to be offered in specific Vietnamese restaurants that specialize in a broader range of Vietnamese cuisine. These restaurants often have a more extensive menu that includes lesser-known dishes like bun rieu.

History of Bun Rieu

This beloved Vietnamese dish has its roots in the northern region of Vietnam, particularly in Hanoi. Bun rieu is believed to have originated during the French colonial period, where Vietnamese cooks adapted the traditional French tomato-based bouillabaisse soup and added their own unique twist.

The name “bun rieu” translates to “crab noodle soup”, and it’s easy to see why. The key ingredient in this dish is crab, which gives the soup its distinctive flavor. The soup is typically made by simmering crab meat and crab paste in a flavorful broth, along with tomatoes, shrimp paste, and various herbs and spices.

Bun rieu is known for its complex and savory taste, with a hint of sweetness from the tomatoes. It is often served with rice vermicelli noodles, however, if you want to ditch the carbs, just add the veggies! Normally it is paired with fresh herbs like cilantro, mint, lettuce, and a side of lime and bean sprouts for added freshness and crunch.

Over time, bun rieu has become popular throughout Vietnam and has even gained recognition internationally. Each region in Vietnam may have its own unique variations, but the essence of the dish remains the same – a delicious and comforting bowl of crab noodle soup.

Ingredients for making the Bun Rieu Stock

  • 3 lbs. Pork loin rib chops, cut into thick slices
  • 12 Roma tomatoes, cut into cubes
  • 1 bag of Dried shrimp (~3.5 oz)
  • 2 tbsp of Pantai Shrimp Paste with Soya Bean, drain oil (whole jar 7oz)
  • 1 tbsp Ground shrimp paste (nam tom)
  • 4 tbsp Paprika
  • 1 Yellow onion, thinly slice
  • 3 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Fish sauce
  • 1 Pack (12 oz.) Fried tofu, cut into half
  • 3 Tamarind (~3 oz.)

Ingredients for extracting the color from Annato seeds

  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Whole annato seeds

Ingredients for making the crab & meat filling

  • 1 lb. Crab meat (cooked), shredded
  • 1 lb. Raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 Yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 lb. Ground pork
  • 12 eggs
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp Fish sauce
  • Add the remainder of the Pantai Shrimp Paste with Soya bean jar, (drain oil)
  • 1/4 cup Water

Ingredients for the toppings & soup

  • Fix Hot Sauce, Chili Pepper Sauce, for topping
  • 4 Bags, Rice stick vermicelli noodles
  • 1 Head Green lettuce
  • 1/2 Green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 Bag, Bean sprouts
  • 1 Bunch, mint
  • 1 Banana leaf
  • 1 Lime
  • 1 Bunch, Purple perilla leaf
  • 1 Bunch of Green onions, thin slices
  • 1 Bunch of Cilantro, minced

Instructions on how to made the stock broth

  • Prep the meat by skimming the fat from the pork loin chop.
  • Start by parboiling the pork chops in a pot of boiling water for about 5-10 minutes (or until boiled). This helps remove any impurities and ensures tender meat.
  • Once the pork chops are parboiled, discard the water, rinse the pork chops, and clean the pot. Place the pork chops back into the large pot, fill the water halfway) and heat to high heat until boiled. Once the pot boils, turn the heat to medium-low heat for 2 hours to simmer (or until you are done prepping the other ingredients).

Instructions on how to extract annato seeds with oil

  • Start by heating oil in a pan or skillet over low heat.
  • Add annatto seeds to the oil and stir them gently.
  • Let the seeds simmer in the oil for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the pan from heat and let it cool down. The longer you let the seeds simmer in the oil, the more vibrant the color and flavor will be.
  • Once cooled, strain the oil to separate the seeds from the liquid.
  • Store the annatto-infused oil in a clean, airtight container for later use.

Instructions on how to prep the soup stock

  • As the pork stock pot is boiling, prep the ingredients that will be added into the stock pot.
  • First, prep the dry shrimp by rinsing with water three times.
  • Using a small pot, place the rinsed dry shrimp and fill the pot with 2 cups of water. Heat the pot on medium heat until the dry shrimp softens. Add more water if needed while boiling.
  • Once the dry shrimp is soften, drain the shrimp water into the large pork chop stock pot. Remove the shrimp into a separate bowl to grind up later for the meat mixture.

Instructions on how to prep the tomato base

  • Next, rinse the roma tomatoes first. Cut the tomatoes into cubes and set aside (remove any of the ends). 
  • Prep the yellow onion by cutting the onion in thin slices and set aside in a bowl.
  • Now you are going to make the base of the soup. Heat a saute pan on medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Once the pan is ready, add the slice onions, and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add paprika, the whole amount of olive oil extract from the annatto seeds and saute again. Then add the tomatoes, ground shrimp paste (nam tom), salt, fish sauce, Pantai Shrimp Paste with Soya Bean, and mix it all together. Saute until the tomatoes are soft. Once ready, add the whole mixture into the large pork broth pot.

Instructions on prepping the final steps of the stock pot

  • Once all ingredients are added into the stock pot, prep the fried tofu.
  • Start by bringing a pot of water to a boil. Make sure there is enough water to fully submerge the tofu.
  • While the water is heating up, prepare the tofu by cutting into half.
  • Once the water is boiling, carefully place the tofu into the pot. Let it cook for about 2-3 minutes to remove any excess oil.
  • Once done, use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove the tofu from the boiling water, rinse and transfer it into the stock pot.

Instructions on how to prep the tamarind water

  • To make the tamarind water, you’ll need tamarind and water. Start by boiling the tamarind in water for about 10-15 minutes once boiled. This will help soften the tamarind and make it easier to extract the flavor.
  • After the tamarind is soften, use a spoon to smash the tamarind to extract the flavor and to blend into the water. Pour the water broth into the large pork chop stock pot and making sure to discard any solids into the trash bin.

Instructions on how to make the crab & pork mixture and final touches to the stock pot

  • Using a food processor, add the dry shrimp and blend until well defined. Remove the shrimp into a large bowl.
  • Blend the raw shrimp (clean and deveined), diced yellow onion, ground pork, fish sauce, black pepper in a food processor until well defined. You might need to blend in two separate batches if need be. Once blended evenly, place the mixture in the same bowl as the dried shrimp.
  • Add the pre-shredded cook crab and the rest of the Pantai Shrimp Paste with Soya Bean into the same bowl with the shrimp mixture and mix well.
  • Once the meat bowl is ready, add the eggs, water and mix evenly again until the meat mixture is fluffy.
  • Before adding the meat mixture into the stock pot, remove the pork chops from the pot. You can discard or add into the serving bowl if you prefer!
  • Add more water into the pot (4-8 cups more or to your liking) and turn the heat to high heat.
  • Add more fish sauce, salt, and/or sugar to the broth to your liking (normally 1-2 tbsp). Once the broth is ready and boiling, add the meat mixture into the broth slowly into multiple batches.
  • Allow it to boil for a minute, turn off immediately and remove the pot from the heat.

Instructions on how to prep the toppings and garnishes

  • To prep the veggies, cut the green lettuce into tiny strips, rinse 3 times and set aside.
  • Cut the green cabbage into thin shredded pieces. Rinse 3 times and set aside into the same bowl as the lettuce.
  • Remove the mint leaves from the stem, stack, mince, and place into a bowl to rinse. Do the same with the perilla leaf. Once both are minced, rinse 3 times and add into the green lettuce mixture.
  • For the bean sprouts, rinse and set into the same bowl as the greens mixture. Once all of the ingredients have been washed and rinsed, mix them in a bowl together.
  • For the banana leaf, cut both ends then remove the first 2 layers out. Then cut into thin slices. Occasionally cut and put into bowl with 1 lime juice (freshly squeezed) and water filled to the rim to soak. Remove the water once ready to be used.

Instructions on how to assemble the bowl

  • In a serving bowl, place a portion of the cooked noodles (refer to the instructions on the bag on how to cook your noodles).
  • Top it with some tomatoes and crab and meat mixture. Ladle the hot broth over the noodles and protein. Make sure to add a little of the oil color to give the bowl that vibrant color.
  • Add the veggies on one side of the bowl. Garnish with cilantro and green onions. Top off with the Fix Hot Sauce – Chili Pepper Sauce for that extra kick! ❤️‍🔥
  • Enjoy: Mix everything together and savor the delicious flavors of your homemade bun rieu bowl!

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Hey there! My name is Jennifer and I love to cook almost ANYTHING you can think of in the kitchen, especially when it comes to a balance of clean eating and comfort foods. There is always a way to enjoy both!

Food is a huge component of my life - it is a lifestyle that I have incorporated by creating my own recipes, tracking calories, and being in tune with nutritional facts. Concocting recipes to share with my followers is a passion of mine to show you all that you can still eat whatever you want without sacrificing health!