Sunday, October 02, 2011

Bún riêu

I'm sure everyone has their perfect dreary-weather comfort food.  For me, Vietnamese noodle soups are perfect for such days.  This weekend has been one of those dreary fall weekends.  Rainy, cloudy, cold...So while we were in Chintatown on Saturday, having Pho for lunch at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant, I decided to pick up some ingredients to make Bun Rieu at the asian grocery store.  Bun Rieu is a Vermacelli noodle soup with crab meat and other delicious goodness.  Although it's easy to make, it has a lot of steps to it.  All the effort is worth it though, and the quantity is enough to make dinners for the rest of the week!

The goods for the soup:

Preparing the broth - sauteeing the onion and garlic:

After sauteeing the onion and garlic, I added the chicken broth and water.  I take the shortcut and use canned chicken broth.  It's just as tasty, and so convenient.  Swanson is preferred:

While waiting for it to boil, I started on the best part: the crab meat pork mixture - ground pork, crab meat, eggs:

After the broth came to a boil, I added some salt, sugar, and fish sauce.  Three Crab fish sauce, to be exact:

Here's the soup, once I added the crab meat mixture.  I used a ladel to slowly drop scoops of the mixture into the broth.  This allows the mixture to cook in chunks (kind of like meatballs).

As the soup was simmering, I started cooking the shrimp and vermacelli.  I cook the shrimp separately, and then add it to the portions that I'm serving, so as to avoid overcooking it in the broth. 

Tonight, I made 2 squares of vermicelli, but since this is such a filling dish, making 1 for 2 people should be just enough.  I boiled the dried vermacelli in water for about 5 minutes, drained, then set aside:

Near the end of simmering the soup, I added tofu puffs.  Some might say, ew, tofu, but tofu is so versatile and tends to absorb flavors in a dish really well.  This is no exception:

Don't forget the condiments - sliced vietnamese sausage, lettuce, bean sprouts, lime, and fried shallots:

Once the broth is done simmering, place the vermacelli in serving bowls, add the cooked shrimp and your favorite condiments, and then scoop the soup into the serving bowls, ensuring you get some chunks of crab pork meat, and tofu puffs. 

Like I said, it's a lot of steps! worth it!

Bun Rieu 
Serves 10

3 or 4 cans/cups of chicken broth, 6 cans/cups water
1/2 lb. Shrimp (peeled, deveined)
2 jars of Crab paste (even better with real cooked crab meat)
1lb ground pork
6 large eggs
1-2 squares of vermacelli rice noodle (bu'n)
1 bundle green onion (chopped)
1 medium onion (thinly sliced)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
4 large tomatoes (each cut into quarters)
1  tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
¼ cup Vietnamese fish sauce

fresh bean sprouts
1 head green lettuce (cut lengthwise)
2 Limes (cut into wedges)
1 bundle of fresh mint and/or basil
Vietnamese sausage
Fried tofu puffs
Fried shallots

In a large pot, sauté onion and garlic.  Combine chicken broth with water. Bring to boil.

When the broth boils, reduce heat to medium and add salt, sugar, and fish sauce.

Mix the crab paste, eggs, and ground pork in a bowl.  Then, slowly pour the mixture into the broth. Add tomatoes and turn the heat down to low. Let it cook like this for 10 minutes and then turn the heat up to high. Do not try to stir up the mixture or else it will not form nice chunky clusters. When the broth boils, it will mix everything up.

Meanwhile, cook the noodle in boiling water for 7-10 minutes or per directions on the package. When rice noodle is cooked, add 1 tsp. of oil, stir well so the noodles don't stick. Rinse noodles with cold water and drain well.  Cook shrimp in boiling, seasoned water for 2 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water, remove shell and set aside.

When the broth returns to boil and crab meat floats to the surface, taste the broth to see if more salt and sugar are need. If needed, add more salt or sugar depending on your taste. Add the green onion pieces and tofu puffs.  After a few minutes, turn off the heat. Serve over noodles, and condiments.

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