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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)

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Slow Cooker Beef Stew (Bo Kho)

There's nothing better than a hearty bowl of Viet-style Beef Stew with some crusty French bread!

I love the simplicity of slow cooker meals and I am always looking to revamp some traditional Vietnamese dishes using an appliance most of us have.  Using a slower cooker is so effortless and if you’re busy like me, every bit of time-savings is a blessing.  With this easy recipe, you can prep everything (including searing the meat) the night before and then store in the fridge.  In the morning, add everything into the slow cooker, set the temperature to Low and let it cook throughout the day.  Upon coming home, slice some bread or cook some noodles, make the onion/cilantro garnish and you have a hot and delicious dinner ready to enjoy!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

The beef tendon is an optional ingredient.  If you enjoy beef tendon, it’s wonderful in this stew and adds delicious texture and crunch.  If you’re not familiar with how to prepare and cook beef tendon, please watch the video for some helpful tips.

Searing the meat is an important step when preparing beef for stews.  The process enhances the flavor and color of the meat.  (If you’ve ever made a stew without searing the meat, you may have noticed the meat is gray and dingy looking.)  Be sure to use a large wok or skillet so the beef has lots of contact with the hot surface.

This Vietnamese stew does not have potatoes but if you like potatoes, reduce the carrots to 1/2 lb and add 1/2 lb potatoes.

Adjust the water levels depending on how you want to eat this stew.  If serving as a noodle soup, you’ll want more liquid, so add an extra cup of water.  For a thicker stew, cut the water back by 1 cup or thicken using cornstarch.  Combine 2 Tbsp cornstarch with 3 Tbsp cold water.  Stir to dissolve.  Add to the stew and mix well.  Turn-up the temperature to High and cook for 10-15 minutes.

One of the best things about using a slow cooker is the timing does not have to be exact.  If cooking on Low, cook the stew for 7-8 hours, on High temperature 3-4 hours.

Don’t forget to remove the lemongrass, star anise, bay leaves before eating.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can cook this over the stove.  Add the seared meat, lemongrass, star anise, coconut water and water into a large pot.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to Low and simmer for 45 minutes or until the meat is tender.  Add the carrots and continue cooking until soft, approximately 20-25 minutes.

Watch the video for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Slow Cooker Chicken Curry (Ca Ri Ga)and Simple Crock Pot Vietnamese Meatballs (Xiu Mai).

Ingredients

1/2 lb beef tendon
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vinegar

2 lbs beef chuck roast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Vodka 5-Spice Marinade  or 1/2 tsp 5-spice powder
2 Tbsp Hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup finely diced onions
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 lb carrots
10 oz coconut water
3 cups water
1 stalk lemongrass
2 star anise
4 bay leaves
1 small bunch fresh cilantro

Directions

Sprinkle salt and vinegar on the beef tendon and rub it into the tendon for about a minute.  Rinse with cool water to wash off the salt and vinegar.  Add the tendon into a large pot of water.  Cover and bring to a rapid boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours.  Rinse the cooked tendon with cool water.  Refrigerate for 2 hours.  Cut the tendon into 1-inch cubes.

Cut the beef chuck roast into 1 1/2-inch cubes.  Combine the chuck roast and beef tendon with salt, curry powder, soy sauce, Vodka 5-Spice Marinade, and Hoisin sauce.  Cover and allow to marinate while continuing with the next steps.

Finely dice the onions and divide in half, 1/4 cup each.  (Half is used for cooking.  The other half can be refrigerated for now.)

Cut-off a 6-inch section of lemongrass.  Peel off the tough outer skin and discard.  Cut the lemongrass in half.  Using a wooden pestle or meat hammer, smash the ends of the lemongrass to release the aroma.

Peel and clean the carrots and then cut into 1-inch sections.

Heat a large wok over Medium High heat and when hot add the vegetable oil.  Add 1/4 cup of the finely diced onions and the minced garlic.  Stir-fry for 15-20 seconds.  Add the tomato paste and stir-fry for 30 seconds.  Increase the heat to High and add the marinated beef.  Stir-fry for 5 minutes searing the meat on all sides.

Add the carrots to the slow cooker and arrange in a single layer.  Add 1 piece of lemongrass, 1 star anise and 2 bay leaves on top of the carrots.  Add the seared beef.  Place the remaining spices on top of the meat.  Add the coconut water and water.  Cover and set the temperature to Low.  Allow to cook for 7-8 hours.

Chop the fresh cilantro and combine with the remaining diced onions.  Garnish the stew with this medley just before serving.

Serve this delicious Beef Stew with crusty French bread or over tapioca noodles (hu tieu) for an amazing and hearty meal!

Yields: 4-6 servings

Tools I Love and Use in My Kitchen

Serve over Beef Stew over tapioca noodles for a hearty noodle soup!

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Won Ton Noodle Soup (Mi Hoanh Thanh)

Won Ton Noodle Soup (Mi Hoanh Thanh) | recipe from runawayrice.comAs the weather cools I gravitate toward soupy dishes and my favorite soups always have lots of noodles like this delicious Won Ton Noodle Soup.  The soup is quite eclectic with its variety of ingredients.  It has hearty meat-filled dumplings, savory roast pork, succulent shrimp, leafy greens, oodles of egg noodles, sprigs of fresh herbs and a sautéed garlic topping to add the right amount of spice.  (Are you drooling yet?)  This belly warming dish is a great meal to make when you have leftover roast pork as  you don’t need much for this recipe.  As for the home-made won tons, with practice, you’ll get really good and can wipe out 16 of these dumplings in a matter of minutes.  If you don’t have time to make the garlic topping, you can buy it at your Asian grocer.  (This topping is fantastic to have around and adds wonderful taste and texture to soups and stir fry.)  You can’t go wrong with this one-bowl wonder!  Enjoy!

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may 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

for the Won Ton
1/4 lb ground pork
6-size 31/40 shrimp, cleaned and deveined
2 Tbsp finely minced onions
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 Tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
16 pieces won ton wrapper

for the Noodle Soup
14 oz package won ton noodles (thin egg noodles)
3-14.5 oz cans chicken broth
2 cups water
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1/2 sweet onion, quartered
8-size 31/40 shrimp, cleaned and deveined, tail on
8-10 sprigs chives, washed and cut into 2-inch sections
4 bunches baby bok choy, washed

for the Garlic Topping
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Serve with
3-4 oz roast pork
2 tsp sesame oil

Directions

Making the Noodles

Remove noodle bundles from packaging and place in a large colander.  Use your fingers to loosen the strands.

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil.  Drop the noodles into the water.  Stir the noodles in the hot water and cook it for just 1 minute.

Pour the cooked noodles into a large colander and rinse several times with cool water to stop the cooking process.

Toss the noodles in the colander multiple times and remove as much of the remaining water as possible.  Place a piece of paper towel on a large plate.  Spread the noodles evenly on the plate and allow to air dry.

Making the Won Ton

Cut the shrimp into thin slices.   Add shrimp to the pork along with all seasonings.  Mix everything together combining all ingredients well.

Take a won ton wrapper and place it on a cutting board with one of the corners pointed toward you.  Place approximately 1/2 tablespoon of filling in the center of the wrapper.  Dip your finger in water and run it along the top edges of the wrapper.  Take the corner closest to you and fold it over, lining up the edges to form a triangle.  Gently press your fingers along the edges to seal the wrapper.

With your index finger, gently push up at the center point of the won ton making  a small indentation.  Dip a your finger in water and dab the right corner of the won ton.  Now pull the 2 corners together so the wrapper overlaps.  Pinch the wrapper together to seal.  Continue making the won tons until all of the filling is used.

Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil.  Drop the dumplings into the hot water, a few at a time.  Gently stir the won ton making sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.  Cook the dumplings for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.  Don’t allow the water to boil too rapidly or the dumplings will break.   Use a slotted spoon to remove the dumplings and place into a colander.  Allow to drain.

Making the Garlic Topping

Add minced garlic and oil to small skillet.  Saute the garlic over medium high heat until it’s golden brown–approximately 2-3 minutes.

Making the Soup

Add chicken broth, water and onions into a stockpot.  Cover pot and bring the broth to a boil.  Turn the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove the onions and discard.  Taste the broth and add more salt if desired.  Add the bok choy and cook for 1 minute.  Turn off the heat and add the shrimp.

To serve, add a generous amount of noodles into a bowl.  Drizzle 1/2 tsp of sesame oil on the noodles.  Add the won tons, roast pork, bok choy, shrimp and fresh chives to the bowl.  Ladle a generous amount of broth filling the bowl.  Spoon a bit of the garlic topping.  Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.  Enjoy while hot!

Yields: 4 servings

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Vermicelli Soup with Chicken, Steamed Pork Roll and Egg (Bun Thang)

When I moved away for college, this was the dish I made regularly.  With its hearty broth, rice vermicelli, shredded chicken, steamed pork roll, fried eggs and fresh greens, this soup was (and still is) the perfect combination of Viet flavors.  It’s a dish that was pretty simple to make and I felt good about cooking some authentic Vietnamese food for myself.  My recipe hasn’t changed much over the years, except back then I varied the greens depending on what I could find.  I’ve been known to throw in bean sprouts, mint, spinach–whatever was convenient and inexpensive.  One ingredient I could never forgo when enjoying this soup was the shrimp paste.  (You simply take a dab or more of the shrimp paste and mix it in the soup.)  For those not familiar with shrimp paste, it is fermented ground shrimp with salt.  “Yikes!” you say?  Yes, it’s a pungent, potent condiment that is extremely salty.  That’s one of the reasons I don’t over-salt the broth.  It’s quite common to add salt or fish sauce to your bowl depending upon individual tastes.  And if you’re like me, you’ll load up on the shrimp paste.  If you’ve never had shrimp paste, I encourage you to give it a try and let me know if you’re a fan!

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients
1.5 lbs chicken breast with ribs
1 medium sweet onion
1/2 tsp salt
10 cups water
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 lb steamed pork roll (cha lua)
4 eggs
2 Tbsp milk
olive oil or non-stick cooking spray

8-10 cups cooked rice vermicelli

1 cup Vietnamese coriander, washed and trimmed
2 red chilies, finely chopped
2 limes, cut into wedges
1 cup cilantro, washed and finely chopped
3 green onion tops, finely diced

Directions

Peel onion and cut into large wedges.  Add onions, salt, chicken breast and water into a medium stock pot.  Make sure the water covers the chicken completely.  Heat over high heat.  As the liquid starts to boil, skim the foam from the top.  (This helps to keep the broth clear.)  Continue skimming as the broth comes to a rapid boil.  Turn heat to low.  Cover pot leaving a slight opening and simmer for 25-30 minutes depending on the size of chicken breast.  To check to see if the chicken is done, cut into the thickest part of the breast meat using a sharp knife.  If the juices in the meat run clear, the chicken is cooked.  If the juices are pink, cook for another 5 minutes and then recheck.  Remove chicken from stockpot and place on a plate.  Allow to cool until it can be handled.

Remove the onions from the broth and discard.  Season the broth by adding fish sauce and black pepper.

Remove steamed pork roll from its wrapping.  Cut into thin slices, approximately 1/8-inch thick and then cut into thin strips.

Add eggs, milk, salt and pepper into a medium bowl.  Whisk together until well blended.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat until hot.  Spritz a bit of olive oil or non-stick cooking spray into the pan.  Pour the egg mixture into the pan.  Swirl the pan so the egg is evenly distributed in the pan.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the egg is no longer runny.  Gently flip the egg over and cook on the other side for another 2 minutes.  Remove from the pan and allow to cool slightly.  Slice into thin strips similar to the steamed pork roll.

Use your fingers to shred the chicken into thin strips.  Remove any fat or cartilage as you’re doing this.

To assemble the soup, add a generous amount of the Vietnamese coriander to the bottom of the bowl.  Add the rice noodles on top.  Layer the shredded chicken, steamed pork roll and fried egg.  Ladle the broth covering the noodles.  Garnish with the green onions, cilantro and red chilies.

Serve with fresh limes and shrimp paste.

Yields:  4-6 servings

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Shortcut Spicy Beef Noodle Soup

This easy recipe will satiate your cravings for a spicy beef noodle soup without having to spend hours cooking.  Certainly, if you have the time, there’s no substitute for making soup stock from scratch.  With our busy lives today, often we just need to prepare a quick meal to feed our hungry family and friends.  This recipe will have you enjoying this spicy, savory soup in no time.

Shrimp paste is often added to this soup and the paste makes the broth quite salty.  If you opt not to serve shrimp paste, you may want to add salt or more fish sauce to the broth.  At my house, we add fish sauce to our bowls individually depending on one’s preference rather than salting the entire soup pot.

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

6 cups cooked rice vermicelli
1 stalk lemongrass (2 Tbsp frozen minced or paste)
2 green scallions
1/2 small onion
6 sprigs cilantro
1/2 shallot (2 Tbsp diced)
2 ripe tomatoes (my personal twist, this is optional)
1 lb flap meat or flank steak
3 Tbsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp + 2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp Oriental mixed chili (Bun Bo Hue) seasoning
2-15 oz cans chicken broth

Directions

Cook rice vermicelli and set aside.

Mince lemongrass by hand or use a food processor.  Reserve a 6-inch section of stalk for simmering in broth.

Dice just tops of green scallions.  Cut onion into thin slices.  Coarsely chop cilantro.  Combine scallions, onions and cilantro together and set aside in a small bowl.

Dice shallot and set aside in small bowl.

Cut tomatoes into wedges, approximately 8 wedges per tomato.  Set aside on a plate.

Cut beef into thin strips and place in medium bowl.  To marinate, add black pepper, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp lemongrass, 1 Tbsp shallots, 1 Tbsp fish sauce and mix well.  Allow to marinate while continuing to next steps.

In a medium saucepan, add 2 cans of chicken broth.  Use broth can and add 2 cans of water.  Take lemongrass stalk set aside earlier, cut in half and add to broth.  Stir in 2 Tbsp fish sauce.  Cover and allow broth to slowly come to a boil over medium heat.

Heat a wok over high heat and add 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Add remaining shallots and stir fry quickly for 5 seconds.  Add 1 tsp minced garlic and remaining lemongrass and stir fry for 5 seconds.  Add the chili mix and stir fry for another 10-15 seconds.  Put seasoning mix in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the same wok over high heat and add 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Add marinated beef and stir fry quickly for a 2-3 minutes and remove from heat.  The meat should still be pink.

The broth should be boiling at this point.  Add tomatoes to the broth and cook for 3-4 minutes until they start to soften.  Add stir-fried beef.  Stir in the seasoning mix.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Ladle soup over rice noodles.  Garnish with onion and cilantro mix prepared earlier.  Serve with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, and red chilis.  Optionally serve with shrimp paste.  Enjoy!

Yields: 4 servings

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