Friday, October 3, 2008

Bún Riêu (Vietnamese Crab Soup)

Bún riêu is a Vietnamese crab based soup that is a meal in itself. It is one of the rare dishes that my mother has never made from scratch (well, in Canaday, anyway). I think it's because the key ingredient is small crabs that you cannot easily find, in Canada anyway. So if you're looking for a recipe for bún riêu from scratch, this is not going to be it; this is the cheater's version! It's really the only version I have ever known.

I had autentic bún riêu in Vietnam and I didn't actually think it was better. What I really remember is sweating buckets (I hard a hard time eating soup in the heat)! In Vietnam, it is typically served with huyết (blood cubes) and fried tofu that I'm not used to having in this soup.

I decided to make bún riêu because of I had leftover bún from the bún thịt bò xào. This turned out to be perfect timing as the weather turned cold and rainy. I'm ready to face a cold, Canadian winter now (I think...)! I usually cook a big pot of soup and eat it by myself for a few days.

Bún Riêu (Vietnamese Crab Soup)

Bún Riêu - serves 4
This recipe is easy peasy, as Jamie Oliver likes to say. It uses a canned crab mixture and eggs to make big, creamy lumps of riêu. I add a ridiculous amount of tomatoes so it's a great source of vegetables. I like eating this soup with iceberg lettuce (it's the only time I like it) because I find it can stand the heat of the soup and stay crisp! You also have to add mắm tôm (fermented fish paste); I have a jar at home just for this dish!

For the soup
* oil
* 1 onion, sliced thinly
* 4-6 tomatoes, cut into wedges (I like a lot so you can have less)
* bit of salt
* 1 can of gia vị nấu bún riêu (crab mixture for bún riêu)
* 1 tbsp dry tamarind soup mix
* 4 cups of water
* 3-4 eggs, beaten (or more if you want more riêu)

up oil in a big pot.
Add onions and tomatoes.
You can season with a bit of salt but I don't add a lot because mắm tôm is very salty.
Add about 1-2 tablespoons of the crab mixture to flavour the broth.
Cook until the onion and tomatoes are close to being cooked (they will continue to cook in the broth).
Add water.
Add tamarind mixture according to taste (my sister and I like it very sour!).
Increase the temperature to bring the soup to a boil and then bring down the heat to a simmer.
Meanwhile, mix the remaining crab mixture with the beaten eggs.
Once the tomatoes are cooked, bring the heat further down to below simmer (this is key - if it's too hot, the lumps of riêu will not form), add the egg and crab mixture in one motion around the pot.
Cover the pot with the lid.
Increase the heat just slightly to ensure the crab mixture cooks and let it cook for a minute.
Turn the heat off.
Wait 5 minutes. You should have (hope for) beautiful lumps of riêu! (Don't worry if you don't have lumps, I screwed this up the first few times I tried...)

Tamarind soup base for sinigang (I've had sinigang in the Phlippines!) and shrimp mixture (oops... it should be crab!).

Tomato wedges and onion slices, nearly cooked.

Crab and egg mixture.

Adding the crab mixture to the broth and vegetables.

Lumps of bún riêu.

Serve with
bún, cooked (rice vermicelli)
iceberg, chopped (or any kind of lettuce you prefer)
green onions, chopped
mắm tôm (fermented shrimp paste)

bún in a bowl.
I like to top the bún with iceberg so it is covered by the hot soup.
Ladle soup onto the bún.
Sprinkle green onions.
Spoon mắm tôm as you please and mix into the soup.

Mắm tôm - shrimp sauce doesn't sound as lethal as fermented shrimp paste, but it still stinks!

Chopped iceberg lettuce and green onions.

Bún Riêu (Vietnamese Crab Soup)
A chunk of "riêu".


Wandering Chopsticks said...

I was at the grocery store with Cathy the other day and saw that crab was only $1.89 lb so then I said I should try making bun rieu. Except then I'd have to buy tofu and tomatoes and then it seemed like too much of a bother. Especially since it was 94 degrees the other day!

Miss.Adventure said...

I'm sure I'll be in Cali one day and you can make some then!! Meanwhile, enjoy your 94F!!

Jacqueline N said...

I made this two nights ago and it was a sure hit! Everyone found the soup so "clear" that made it very tasty. Thanks for sharing your recipe :)

Miss.Adventure said...

Jacqueline, I'm glad to hear that the soup came out so well! Thank you!