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Crab Noodle Soup (Bun Rieu)

So Much Goodness in One Bowl: Crab Noodle Soup (Bun Rieu) This hearty Crab Noodle Soup is a plethora of wonderful ingredients, flavors and textures–savory seafood patties are cooked in a light tomato stock with fried tofu and crab claws and then served over springy rice vermicelli along with abundant fresh herbs, beans sprouts and split water spinach stems. Don’t be daunted by all of the ingredients in this recipe. It’s fairly straightforward when broken down into smaller tasks. Some of the steps can be done in advance and I share some recipe shortcuts below. With the cooler days ahead, this is an amazingly warm and filling dish. Enjoy!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

My recipe does not use crab paste. Although tasty and a great shortcut, it is loaded with oil and contains artificial ingredients. If you prefer to use the crab paste, substitute it for the canned crab meat in this recipe.

Break up the work by prepping the day before:

  1. Pan-fry the tofu and store in the fridge.
  2. Wash the herbs and bean sprouts and store in the fridge.
  3. Split the water spinach and place in a bag filled with water and store in the fridge.
  4. Prepare the crab meat mixture and store in the fridge.

Water spinach may be difficult to find depending on where you live. A good substitute is young celery. Use a vegetable peeler to cut the celery into long strands like the water spinach.

Purchase fried tofu from your Asian grocery store to save some time and simply add to the soup.

I use tomato paste instead of annatto oil. If you have this ingredient, feel free to substitute. I love using paste because it adds delicious tomato-y flavor and the lovely color.

Once the meat floats to the top, be sure to reduce the heat. Over-boiling will cause the patties to fall apart. The soup should have nice chunks of meat.

This soup is not heavily salted so each person can add fish sauce and shrimp paste to taste.

Watch the video for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you make also like: Vermicelli Soup with Chicken, Steamed Pork Roll and Egg (Bun Thang) and Thick Noodles and Fish Cake Soup (Banh Canh Cha Ca).

Ingredients

Tofu
8 oz medium-firm tofu
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Herbs  & Vegetables
8-10 sprigs spearmint
8-10 sprigs Perilla
8-10 sprigs Vietnamese balm
2 cups bean sprouts
20 water spinach stems + 1/4 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves
1 small shallot
6 medium tomatoes
2 green onions
6 sprigs cilantro

Crab Meat Mix
3/4 cup dried shrimp + 2 cups boiling water
1/3 lb ground pork
2-6 oz cans of crab meat, drained
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1/4 ground black pepper

Sautéed Tomatoes
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 ground black pepper

Soup
12 cups chicken stock
8-10 cooked crab claws
2 Tbsp fish sauce

Accompaniments
10-12 cups cooked rice vermicelli (approximately 14 oz dry noodle)
2 limes cut into wedges
red chilies
shrimp paste

Directions

Cut the tofu into small chunks, approximately 10-12 pieces. Add vegetable oil into a wok and heat over Medium High heat until hot. Add the tofu and pan-fry all sides until golden brown. (Each side takes approximately 2-3 minutes.) Remove tofu and place on paper towels to blot the excess oil. Set aside for now.

Pluck and gently wash the spearmint, Perilla and Vietnamese balm. Dry the herbs using a salad spinner. Repeat the same steps for the bean sprouts. Store in the refrigerator until it’s time to serve.

Pluck the water spinach leaves from the stems. (Save the leaves for this dish: Stir-Fried Water Spinach and Beef (Rau Muong Xao Bo).) Wash the stems with cold water. Use a water spinach splitter to shred the stems into long strands. Fill a large bowl with cold water and add 1/4 tsp salt. Add the stems and soak in the water until it’s time to serve.

Mince the garlic and finely chop the shallots.

Cut the tomatoes into wedges.

Cut off the tops of the green onions and chop. Chop the cilantro. Combine both in a bowl and set aside for now.

Put the dried shrimp into a colander and rinse with cold water and then drain. Repeat this process one more time. Transfer into a bowl. Add 2 cups boiling water and let soak for 15 minutes. Drain the shrimp and reserve the liquid for later.

Add the shrimp into a food processor along with half of the minced garlic and chopped shallots. Process for 15-20 seconds. Add the ground pork, crab meat (drained of the canning liquid), eggs, fish sauce and ground black pepper. Pulse for 10 seconds to mix together.

Heat a small wok over Medium High heat and add vegetable oil. Add the remaining minced garlic and chopped shallots and stir-fry for 15 seconds. Add the tomato paste and stir-fry for another 15 seconds. Add half of the tomatoes and combine together. Cook until the tomatoes just start to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Turn-off the heat and add salt and ground black pepper.

Add the chicken stock plus the shrimp liquid into a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil over High heat. Add the sautéed tomatoes and combine together. Skim off any foam and discard. Add large spoonfuls of the crab meat mixture into the soup. Lower the heat to Medium High and cook until the meat floats to the top, approximately 5-6 minutes. Reduce the heat to Medium Low and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the fried tofu, remaining tomatoes and cooked crab claws. Add 2 Tbsp fish sauce and gently combine.

To serve, place 2 1/2 cups rice vermicelli into a large bowl. Ladle the soup on top of the noodles and add a generous amount of broth.  Garnish the top with the chopped cilantro and green onions mix and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve the Crab Noodle Soup with a plate of the fresh herbs, bean sprouts, water spinach stems, lime wedges, chilies and shrimp paste.

Yields: 4-6 servings

Interested in learning more about fresh herbs? Check out this post: Quick Guide to Vietnamese Herbs

Tools I Love and Use in My Kitchen

Essential Herbs and Veggies to Serve with Crab Noodle Soup (Bun Rieu)

*This post contains affiliate links.*
 

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Glass Noodle Salad with Seafood (Goi Mien Tron Hai San)

A refreshing noodle salad loaded with seafood!Nothing is better on a hot summer day than having a cool meal to chase away the heat.  Abundant noodles with a medley of vegetables and seafood in a light dressing makes this dish super scrumptious and refreshing.  This noodle salad is so easy to toss together and can be served as a main meal or appetizer.  If you need to prepare this dish ahead and chill in the fridge, even better, the salad will be wonderfully marinated.  Bon Appetit!

Notes on the recipe, tips and tricks

Use any type of seafood you like.  For a shortcut, buy seafood that’s already cooked.

Avoid over-soaking or over-cooking the noodles.  They will become a sticky mess.

Make sure to drain the seafood and noodles well.  You don’t want a wet salad.  Here’s a trick to try–put the noodles in a salad spinner.  It does a great job of removing the water.

The recipe below makes enough dressing for the entire salad.  This is not a salad that’s drenched in dressing but is lightly seasoned.  If you want more dressing to serve on the side, double the recipe below.

Watch the video below for instructions.


Ingredients

1/2 lb bean thread noodle also called glass or cellophane noodle
1 1/2 lb mixed seafood:  shrimp, squid, crab and scallops (or use what you like)
2 medium carrots
1/2 small red onion
2 celery stalks
2-3 sweet peppers
1/2 bunch cilantro

Dressing
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup lime juice
3 Tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp. oyster sauce
1/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp crushed roasted peanuts

Directions 

Peel the carrots and then cut into 3-inch lengths.  Shred the carrots using a mandolin or cut into long, thin strips.

Cut the red onion into thin slices.

Clean the celery stalks and cut into 3-inch sections.  Cut each section into long, thin strips.

Cut the sweet peppers into thin slices.

Coarsely chop the cilantro.

Cut the larger seafood pieces into bite-sized pieces.

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil.  Add the raw seafood and cook for 2-3 minutes while stirring gently.  Add the cooked seafood and swirl in the water for 1 minute.  Transfer the seafood to a bowl of ice water and soak for 1 minute then drain well.

Put the dried noodles into a large bowl and fill with cool water covering the noodles completely.  Let rest for 5 minutes and then drain.  Bring a large pot of water to a rapid bowl.   Add the noodles and swirl in the boiling water for just 15 seconds.  Quickly drain the hot water and then rinse the noodles with cold water.  Drain.  Fill a large bowl with ice water and soak the noodles in the bath for 1 minute.  Drain well.  Cut the noodles into shorter sections using scissors.  Spread out the noodles and allow to air-dry for 15 minutes.

In a measuring cup, combine lime juice, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and garlic.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

In a large bowl, add a small amount of the glass noodle.  Add small amounts of each of the vegetables and seafood.  Drizzle with 1-2 Tbsp of the dressing.  Continue making the layers until all of the ingredients are used.  Add the black pepper.  Toss everything combining well and making sure all ingredients are well-combined with the dressing.

When serving, top the salad with the crushed roasted peanuts.

Yields:  4-6 servings

Dish up a heaping amount of this refreshing noodle salad!

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Baked Bean Thread Noodles with Crab (Mien Xao Cua Dut Lo)

These make great little appetizers for your holiday get-togethers or dinner parties!

If you enjoy baked dishes, you’ll love this week’s recipe which I call a Vietnamese casserole.  I wish more recipes were this simple–we lightly stir-fry some vegetables with crab meat, add in the noodles, seasoned chicken stock and then bake.  Everything comes out piping hot, perfectly cooked and so delicious.  The noodles are substantial enough that they can be served as a main dish.  Without a doubt this also makes a great appetizer or a side dish.  During the holiday seasoning, when there are many family get-togethers or dinner parties, this is my go-to dish because of its popularity and versatility.

Notes on the recipe, tips and tricks

This recipe uses canned crab meat which is minced.  If you’d like more visible pieces of crab, use lump crab meat or imitation crab meat.

Not a fan of crab meat?  Use chicken, beef, pork or seafood.  Stir-fry the meat until it’s halfway cooked, add the vegetables and then bake.

For convenience buy vegetables already chopped and shredded to reduce your prep time.  You can also use a rotisserie chicken from your deli or other fully cooked meat for additional time-savings.

This dish can be served hot, cold or even a room temperature so, it’s an all-around versatile dish.

These noodles are not overly seasoned, so serve them with a side of soy sauce and chili paste and let everyone season as desired.  I also love squeezing some fresh lime juice on the noodles.

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

6 bundles bean thread noodles (approximately 9 oz)
2- 6 oz cans crab meat (I like the brand Crown Prince)
1/2 lb green beans
2 celery stalks
8 oz Portabella mushroom caps
4 oz shredded carrots
1/2 small red onion
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp oyster sauce

Directions

Soak bean thread noodles in warm water for 10 minutes.

Trim the ends off the green beans and then cut in half.  Cut celery at a diagonal into thin slices. Cut the mushrooms into thick slices. Thinly slice the red onion.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Drain the crab meat into a fine strainer.  Rinse with cold water and then drain.

Drain the noodles and toss gently to remove the excess water.  Use scissors and cut the strands so they are a bit shorter.

Heat a large wok over Medium High heat and when hot add the sesame oil.  Add the minced garlic and stir-fry for 15 seconds.

Add the green beans and celery and stir-fry for 2 minutes.  Add the remaining vegetables and crab meat and stir-fry for 1 minute.

Turn-off the heat and add 1 Tbsp soy sauce and freshly ground black pepper.  Combine together.

In a measuring cup, combine the chicken stock with 1 Tbsp soy sauce and 1 Tbsp oyster sauce.

Add the bean thread noodles to the wok and then drizzle the sauce over the noodles.  Toss together making sure the noodles are completely coated with the sauce.

Line a 13X9 inch baking dish with foil.  Pour the noodles into the dish and spread out into an even layer.  Cover the dish with another large piece of foil sealing it completely.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve.

Yields: 4-6 servings

Baking instead of stir-frying makes perfect noodles!

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Spicy Stir-Fried Crab Legs (Cua Xao Gung Ot)

Delicious and succulent crab legs and claws stir-fried in a spicy and savory Asian sauce.

During the summertime I love dining outside and am always looking for casual meals to take outdoors.  So I love dishes where everything can be made in one big wok or pot and then taken right to the table.   This Spicy Stir-Fried Crab Legs is that perfect summertime dish.  Quick and easy to make, these crab legs are stir-fried with a spicy, savory sauce that is finger-licking good.  Add some corn-on-the cob and a salad and you have a scrumptious no-fuss meal to enjoy during the summer months.

Notes on the recipe

You can use both crab legs and claws in this recipe.  If buying whole crab legs, cut them into 4 inch lengths.

I bought the crab claws already cut and scored which is so convenient.  (The brand is called Nautilus and they are sold frozen.)  The scoring not only makes them easier to crack open but also allows the stir-fry sauce to permeate the meat during cooking.

You can use fresh crab legs as well.  Just cook them before stir-frying.

Substitute the red chilies with red bell peppers or any mild peppers of your choice if you want to tone down the heat.

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

4 lb cooked crab claws/legs, cut and scored
4 garlic cloves
1-inch ginger
3-4 red chilies
1 small yellow onion
4 green onions

Stir-fry Sauce
1/3 cup water
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Vodka 5-Spice Marinade
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp plum sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 Tbsp vegetable oil (for stir-frying)

Directions

Rinse crab legs with cool water several times to wash off any dirt or sand. Drain in a colander.

Smash garlic, remove the skin and then chop.
Peel off skin from ginger and then cut into thin strips.
Cut red chilies in half, remove the core and then cut into thin strips.
Cut the onion into thin slices.
Cut the green onions into 2-inch sections.

In a measuring cup add water, soy sauce, Vodka 5-Spice Marinade, oyster sauce, plum sauce, cornstarch, ground black pepper and stir until smooth.

Heat a large wok or skillet over High heat.  When hot, add vegetable oil.  Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 15 seconds.  Add the yellow onions, red chilies and stir-fry for 1 minute.

Add the crab and toss in the wok, cooking for 2 minutes.  Drizzle 1/3 of the sauce onto the crab legs coating them evenly.  Toss together.  Drizzle another 1/3 of the sauce and toss together.  Add the remaining sauce and combine.  Stir-fry for another 3-4 minutes tossing, coating the crab legs with the sauce.

Turn off the heat, add the green onions and ground black pepper and combine together.

Yields: 4 servings

Enjoy these spicy, savory and succulent crab claws in no time at all with this easy recipe!

Enjoy these spicy, savory and succulent crab claws in no time at all with this easy recipe!

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