My go to comfort food will always be some type of Vietnamese noodle soup. Every time I eat a bowl, it reminds me of home in LA which I don’t get back to that much. One of my favorites is Bun Rieu. Bun Rieu is a noodle soup with a pork based broth filled with tons of tomatoes and topped with a crab paste/egg mixture. It’s an unusual combination, but I promise you everyone whose tried it loves it.
Making a Clear Broth
The first time I ever made this dish I was surprised at how easy it was. The broth is made from 9 ingredients: pork (any cut), onion, tomatoes, salt, green onions, chili powder, chicken broth, eggs, and crab paste. I have probably mentioned this before but the key to the perfect Vietnamese noodle soup is a clear broth. This is achieved through the elimination of impurities. Pork is one of those meats that produces the most impurities, so instead of just scooping them out, I add the pork to water, bring it to a boil, and throw away all that water. It sounds crazy but effective.
How Bun Rieu Gets Its Red Color
Bun Rieu gets its signature red color from the chili powder/green onion mixture as well as the egg/crab paste mixture. Growing up, my FAVORITE thing was the egg/crab paste mixture. As a kid, I used to sneak more of this stuff into my soup when my mom wasn’t looking. Once you add it to the soup, it becomes an egg loaf looking thing that floats on top of the soup. This stuff is just packed with flavor!
The thing I love most about this noodle soup and every Vietnamese noodle soup is that you can customize the toppings to your tastes. I’ve seen Bun Rieu topped with fried tofu, shredded cabbage, mint, bean sprouts, blood cake etc. I like mine nice and simple, so I just add some green onions and a few veggies if I have them on hand.
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- 2.5 pounds pork shoulder (cut into 2 inch pieces)
- 1 onion
- 10 dried shrimp
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 scallions
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 6 roma tomatoes (sliced in half)
- 1 cup crab paste
- 3 eggs
- 1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 packages of vermicelli noodles (cooked)
- Put the pork into a large soup pan. Cover the pork with water until it just covers the pork. Bring the water to a boil. Once the water boils, take out the pork pieces and set aside. Pour out the water. Transfer the pork back into the soup pan and cover it with fresh water. This process will help to clean the pork and produce a clear broth.
- Add in the onion, dried shrimp, and the salt. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer the soup for an hour and a half.
- While the soup is simmering, combine the scallions, chili powder, and oil in a pan. Cook for 20 seconds and set aside. Watch the scallions carefully because they burn easily.
- Once the soup has simmered for an hour and a half, add this mixture to the soup with the tomatoes. This mixture and the tomatoes will help give the soup its signature red color. Simmer for another 30 minutes.
- As the soup is simmering, combine the eggs and crab paste in a small bowl. Whisk them together and set aside.
- Once the soup has simmered for 30 minutes, add in the egg/crab paste mixture, chicken broth, and fish sauce. Stir everything together. Once the egg and crab mixture floats to the top of the soup, the soup should be done.
- Taste the soup to make sure there is enough flavor in the soup. If it tastes bland, add more fish sauce into the soup.
Now it's time to put it all together. Add some cooked vermicelli noodles to a bowl. Ladle some soup over the noodles and garnish with leftover green onions.
You can use any cut of pork to make this dish. Pork with bones make the best and richest broth. You can add more toppings to this dish to make it your own. Some toppings I've used are cha lua, shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, and fried tofu. Make sure to soak the dried shrimp for 10 minutes to soften them up.