Bun Rieu (Vietnamese Crab Soup) is one of my favorite go-to recipes because it’s easy to make, tastes good, and can serve a crowd.
The soup has a lot of “ethnic” flavors which always worried me when cooking it for anyone outside of my family because I’m never sure how someone might react. However, several people have already asked for the recipe, which is a good sign!
How I Discovered Bun Rieu
I first had this soup as a child. Our neighbor was Vietnamese and she made it for my family.
Although our neighbor gave my mom the recipe, it was misplaced. Don’t you just hate it when things like that happen?
I didn’t have Bun Rieu for years and had no idea what it was called until I came across it in my cooking book, Quick and Easy Vietnamese: Home Cooking for Everyone.
I could finally satisfy my craving for this soup.
Now, I make Bun Rieu often all the time because it’s also budget-friendly.
It seems everyone has a different way of making it, but the crab paste and shrimp paste definitely provide that unique flavor needed in this soup.
The Easy Way
Over time, I’ve adapted the recipe from Quick and Easy Vietnamese: Home Cooking for Everyone to make it how I prefer. The lazy version, of course.
Here’s how I do it …
Welcome to the quick and easy, budget-friendly, I can make it in America version of Bun Rieu.
I usually fill a pot with 10-12 cups of water. Then, I add chicken paste (Wyler’s Better than Bouillon) so I can adjust the flavor as I please. I’d recommend you use your favorite broth.
Next, I mix together one pound of ground pork with 2 eggs, 3 tablespoo0ns of crab paste with bean oil, 1 teaspoon shrimp paste, 1/4 cup fish sauce (3 Crabs Brand), 1 (6-0z) can of lump crab meat (optional), and 3 green onions chopped.
Pour the meat mixture into the boiling chicken broth and cook for about 15 minutes on high.
Add in 3-5 tomatoes cut into wedges, put it into the soup, and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes on medium-high heat. Afterward add some extra fish sauce to the broth unless you are satisfied with a more simple taste.
While all that’s happening, boil some vermicelli noodles in a separate pot.
Also, chop some cilantro (about 1/4 cup) as a garnish.
Just so you know, the pork should be in chunks (not like ground taco meat) while the tomatoes should be soft. Also, the soup will turn reddish from the crab paste and tomatoes. Watch out for your white linens!
Where Do I find this stuff? Any tips?
Now, if you are wondering where you would even get this type of crab paste with soybean oil from, I would check out your local Asian grocery store (with a Vietnamese selection). You should be able to find the 3 Crabs Brand Fish Sauce and shrimp paste there too.
If you are on a budget, forget adding any seafood to the pork mixture. The crab paste, fish sauce, and shrimp paste seem to really be key to a flavorful soup (and the chicken broth). No one will know.
Also, if you can’t find vermicelli noodles, try pho or bean thread noodles. I’ve even used somen noodles out of desperation.
Living in the South means driving an hour or more to find these products, so I’ve had to do a lot of improvising!
Don’t forget to keep some fish sauce and Sriracha on the side.
Recipe for Bun Rieu (Vietnamese Crab Soup)
- 10 C Chicken Broth
- 1-lb Ground Pork
- 2 eggs
- 3 green onion sprigs, chopped
- 3 Tbsp. crab paste with soybean oil
- 1 tsp. shrimp paste
- 1/4 C fish sauce
- 1 (6 oz.) can crab meat or 1/2 C shrimp, chopped (optional)
- 3 tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 1/4 chopped cilantro (garnish)
- 1 Pkg. Vermicelli noodles
- Boil chicken broth
- Combine ground pork, eggs, green onions, crab paste, shrimp paste, and fish sauce.
- Pour meat mixture into boiling chicken broth
- Cook on high for at least 15 minutes.
- Let meat form into chunks.
- Add in tomatoes and cook an additional 15 minutes on medium-high heat.
- At the end, stir in 1/4 cup chopped cilantro or keep it on the side as a garnish to be added later.
- In a separate pot, boil noodles as directed on the package. Rinse with cold water.
- When ready, add noodles to your bowl and pour soup on top.
I really hope you enjoy this recipe!