So excited to talk about my favorite Vietnamese noodle soup today: Vietnamese Crab noodle Soup or Bun Rieu. It’s a bowl comforting, cozy and delicious crab noodles soup with tomatoes and tofu. Let’s dive in!
What is Vietnamese Crab Noodle Soup or Bun Rieu?
A popular Vietnamese rice noodle soup with crabs, tomatoes, fried tofu and loaded with vegetables. The stock is made of pork bones, a mixture of crab in spices are added along with tomatoes. Traditional bun rieu can take hours to simmer the pork broth to achieve a richer, nutritious flavors. In this version, we use the help of the magical instant pot to make our broth while preparing for other ingredients.
The broth is made using a few ingredients: pork neck bones, onion, salt, fermented shrimp paste, fish sauce and tamarind powder. The broth gets its orange color from the crab mixture. Some people also added annatto oil to achieve that orange color broth.
The key to any Vietnamese soup is its clear broth. To achieve a clearer broth results, we must parboil the bones to remove impurities. Pork bones are best to use in this recipe.
Seasoning the soup: Fermented Shrimp paste vs fish sauce.
Fermented shrimp paste: this pungent, flavor-packed shrimp paste is used to flavor this soup. If you don’t like the smell or flavor of the shrimp paste, substitute with more fish sauce.
Herbs and Veggies:
A handful of herbs and veggies are served with lime wedges. Common herbs are kinh gioi (or Vietnamese balm), bean sprouts, banana flower, mints, shredded cabbages.
Some people use ground pork for the meatballs mixture. Our family recipe uses ground chicken. The mixture consists of egg, fresh crab meat, crab meat in spices and ground chicken. The mixture then shaped into meatballs. Meatballs are added directly into the soup. We also save some crab meats separately to serve on the side.
Bun rieu will always be my go to comfort bowl. When our family gets together, Vietnamese crab noodle soup is always our top choice. If you love Vietnamese soups, you’ll love this version of crab noodle soup. Enjoy!
Instant Pot Vietnamese Crab Noodle Soup (Bun Rieu)
Pork base broth crab noodle soup with with tomato, fried tofu, crab meatballs mixture. This bowl is comforting and delicious.
- 3 lbs pork neck bones
- 1 medium onion
- 4 small rock sugar
- 16 cups hot water (divided)
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste (more to taste)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon tamarind powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For crab mixture (rieu)
- 1/2 cup crab meat
- 1 small can crab in spices (about 5 oz) (approximately 1/2 cup) - save 2 tbps for tomato mixture
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 8 oz ground chicken
- 5 plum tomato (quartered)
- 2 tablespoons crab in spices
- 1 small shallot (diced)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- extra crab meat
- 10 oz vermicelli rice noodles cook according to package instruction
- handul of beansprouts, vietnamese mints, cabbages.
- chopped green onion
Broth: Place pork bones in a large pot of water. Bring it to a boil. Once the water boils, discard water and rinse the bones under cold water.
Broth: place clean bones, onion, rock sugar, 10 cups of hot water into the instant pot. Close lid and set the pot to "soup/broth" setting for 30 minutes. Once time's up, quickly release the pressure. Remove bones, onion and discard.
Add 6 more cups of water to the pot. Season the broth with fish sauce, shrimp paste, salt, tamarind powder.
Tomatoes mixture: While waiting for the broth to cook, prepare the tomatoes mixture.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, add in garlic, shallot until fragrant. Add in tomatoes, crab in spices and saute for about 5 minutes, until tomatoes are soften. Remove from heat a set aside.
Crab meatballs mixture: In a large bowl, mix eggs, ground chicken, crab meat, garlic powder, black pepper. Set aside
Broth: After seasoning the broth from step 2 above, press the saute button on the instant pot. Once hot, scoop a spoonful of crab mixture and drop into the broth. The meatballs will float when cooked. Also transfer the tomatoes mixture to the broth. Add fried tofu and green onions.
To serve: Divide vermicelli among bowls. Laddle soup broth over. Serve with extra crab meat on the side and a handful of herbs along with lime wedges and chilis. Enjoy!
This is order I'm preparing my vermicelli to save time:
- Use hot, boiling water to speed up the process in the instant pot.
- While the broth is in the instant pot, cook vermicelli and prepare other ingredients so when time's up, we have all the mixture ready to transfer to the pot.
- For extra crab meat toppings: simple saute' with garlic powder and 1 tsp fish sauce. Saute on medium heat with some oil. Keep it aside as garnish later.
- To keep the meatballs in their shape and not falling apart in the broth, use about 1/2 cup of crab meat in spices. I used a small 5 oz can and take 2 tablespoons out for the tomatoes mixture. You can get these cans from international supermarket. Or amazon.