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:
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! But...so worth it!
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
Fried tofu puffs
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.