Friday, February 11, 2011

Bún Riêu

Bún Riêu is a delicious Southern Vietnamese rice vermicelli soup in a seafood-tomatoes broth that, well, started out complicated go make but the process has been simplified over time (thank goodness!) ^.^ It used to be that the dish is made from fresh crabs, but nowadays my mum and I are among the vast majority of those who use a shrimp or crab paste sold in cans or jars :P It just really makes life so much easier and the dish much more accessible. I can make it for dinner at will instead of having to plan far ahead for some ceremonious special occasion like my Martha-Steward-esque aunt once did.

The bún riêu pictured was made with shrimp paste because crab paste is not available here in Japan and to be honest, the shrimp paste I used wasn't any where as good as Por Kwan Spicy Crab Paste T.T Also, there wasn't any "Vietnamese ham/sausage," Thai basil, and a host of other things, so the bún riêu I made was actually quite plain... :(

Here's the recipe for Bún Riêu, as learned from my mum, and no, it doesn't involve congealed pig's blood (eeps jeepers!!!).

- Fresh tomatoes, 5-6, quartered.
- Minced crab paste, 1 jar. I really recommend Por Kwan Spicy Crab Paste, not the cans but the glass jar that says "Bún Riêu Cua" on it. It should be available in most Asian markets, though oddly the only place where I could find a picture (below) was from an Australian whole saler's website O.o
- Fried tofu, as much or as little as desired, cut into strips, or if they're in cubes, then halve the cubes.
- Eggs, 3
- Dried shrimps (tôm khô, picture below), 1 Tablespoon. This should be available in most Asian markets also. Rinse quickly in cold water first before use.
- Rice vermicelli, 1 package.
- Optional: Chả, a few slices per serving. The wikipedia page calls it "Vietnamese ham or sausage" but I call it seasoned pork paste, which doesn't sound nearly as appetizing :P I prefer the fried kind, but the regularly cooked kind is good too.
- Scallions, chopped, for garnish
- Cilantro, chopped, for garnish
- Lettuce, shredded, for garnish
- Thai basil leaves, shredded, for garnish
- Mints, shredded, for garnish
- Bean sprouts, a small handful per serving, for garnish
- Lime, 1 slice per serving, for garnish
- Optional: fresh chopped chili peppers, for garnish

Por Kwan Spicy Crab Paste

***Picture from BBK Australia.

Dried shrimps

***Picture from

- Fish sauce, to taste

- Heat some oil in stock pot, brown the dried shrimps until fragrant
- Add fresh tomatoes and stir fry until tender
- Add about half the jar of the Spicy Crab Paste, stir fry for a few minutes before adding about 5-6 quarts of water
- Season with fish sauce to taste, and let cook on medium heat until the dry shrimps are tender (yes, you'll have to try and fish one of them out), then lower heat and drop in the fried tofu.
- Mean while, beat the 3 eggs with the remaining crab paste and season with 1 teaspoon of fish sauce
- Raise heat to bring broth to a small bubbling boil (not furiously boiling), then using a ladle, ladles the egg and crab paste mix into the soup very slowly. This will result in the egg and crab paste mix slowly curdle together and become "crab cakes", and when these "crab cakes" rise to the surface of the broth, it means the broth is ready to serve.
- Turn off heat, cook rice vermicelli in a separate pot (steps in this recipe).
- Each bowl of Bún Riêu is served with a chunk or two of "crab cakes" (be careful when ladling the broth or you'll crush the "crab cakes"), several pieces of fried tofu, a few slices of "Vietnamese ham/sausage," and garnish with fresh scallions, cilantro, lettuce, mint, Thai basil, and bean sprouts (and chili peppers too, if you want your bowl to have a bite).
- Finally, squeeze a wedge of lime over the entire thing before eating!

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