Bún Riêu

It came to my attention recently that when it comes to Vietnamese food, I rarely use measurements which then causes frustrations among friends who ask for recipes. How I learned how to cook Vietnamese food is by hanging out in the kitchens of my friend’s mothers and grandmothers and taking mental notes of thing’s they’d put in stews and sauces. Since my own parents are not experts of Vietnamese cuisine (oh the irony), I’ve kinda just took what I’ve learned over the years and tweaked the recipes to suit my tastes. Anyway, now I’ve had to be more conscious about measuring so that my friends can cook with clarity!

Bún Riêu, what is it? I have as much fun naming the extensive ingredients as I do cooking it. It’s a seafood based noodle soup. As with most Vietnamese soups, you begin by making a broth made out of pork or beef bones which requires about 2 hours of cooking. After the flavor of the bones have rendered you remove them from the pot, and in a separate sauce pan you stir fry crab/shrimp paste, garlic, chopped onions, salt and pepper and add it to the broth. Condiments that go into this soup include (but not limited to): cooked pork blood, fried tofu, roma tomatoes, dehydrated shrimp, ground pork balls, whipped eggs, pork hock, and crab meat. I usually leave out the pork hock, just because something about pigs feet makes me quiver but I love pork blood so that doesn’t make sense. For some reason, cooked pork blood seems more appealing to me than pigs feet. This may be that defining line that determines whether I’m an authentic Vietnamese or not. If not, well, I can nobly say that I love durian which even real Vietnamese people can sometimes find offensive and that has got to count for SOMETHING right?

Ground Pork meatballs

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions stems, chopped thinly
  • 1/2 onion diced very fine
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper

Mix all ingredients together then form 1 inch wide meatballs. Set aside. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Broth

  • 3 pounds of beef bones
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 3 cup water
  • 2-14 oz cans of Bún Riêu paste
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 pound fried tofu
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound roma tomatoes, sliced in quarters
  • 1/2 onion, sliced paper thin
  • 1 cup dehydrated shrimp
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 pound fresh pork blood
  • 1 pound can of lump crab meat
  • 1 large package of cooked, medium thin rice noodles (vermicelli)/ Bún
  1. In a large soup pot, bring water to a medium boil and add bones. Increase the heat to a medium high and cook for 2 hours. Skim off the foamy impurities that float to the top and discard.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan, heat up vegetable oil and add thin sliced onions and stir fry until onions are translucent. Add garlic, salt and pepper, Bún Riêu paste, and dehydrated shrimp. Set aside.
  3. In another sauce pan, bring 3 cups of water to medium boil. Run a small knife around the edges of the pork blood container then cut the pork blood in quarters. Gently invert the container into the pot. Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes and drain. If the pork blood is no longer a bright red but looks like a dark maroon color, it is cooked. Set aside.
  4. When the beef broth is ready, remove all the bones and discard. Add the Bún Riêu mixture, tomatoes, and pork meatballs to the pot and allow to simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes. Add tofu and cooked blood pudding.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk eggs with salt and pepper until a pale yellow. Add in the lump crab meat then, very slowly pour the egg mixture around the top of the pot. The egg should float to the top of the soup as cooks. Simmer for 10 minutes more before serving.

Assembling:

  • 1 bunch of basil, sliced thinly
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 3 stalks of green onions, sliced thinly
  • 2 limes cut in wedges
  • Minced shrimp paste (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, add about a 1 1/2 cups of cooked noodles. Spoon the prepared brother over the top making sure you get a little bit of all the ingredients including the egg mixture.
  2. Garnish with fresh herbs, green onions, and a squeeze of lime.
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