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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).


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

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

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


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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Vegetable Curry (Ca Ri Chay)

Easy recipe for making this hearty and delicious Vietnamese-style Vegetable Curry | recipe from runawayrice.comVegetarian’s Delight! This Vietnamese-style curry is loaded with hearty vegetables–potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, celery, red bell pepper and onions and cooked in a savory sauce infused with flavorful curry spices, aromatic lemongrass and creamy coconut milk. Perfectly balanced, it’s not overly rich or heavy. Whether you’re a vegetarian or just looking for a meat-free meal, this dish is guaranteed to be a palette pleaser. Enjoy!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Use any vegetables you like in this recipe. (I like to use seasonal vegetables.) Feel free to substitute the root vegetables with taro root, yams, turnips, etc.

I like the potatoes and sweet potatoes cut bigger than the rest of the vegetables. They hold their shape better when cooked. With the bigger pieces, they need to be cooked longer and that’s why we don’t add all of the vegetables at the same time.

When preparing potatoes and sweet potatoes, if not cooking them right away, soak them in cool water and a bit of salt to prevent them from oxidizing and turning brown. When ready to use, rinse and drain well.

Curry powder comes in many varieties and hotness levels. Some curries are stronger than others and if this your first time cooking with a particular brand, use just half the amount and then adjust accordingly. I purchased my curry powder from my local Vietnamese grocery store. The Indian curry powders work well too, but I find they are a bit stronger.

Don’t skip the lemongrass, it adds a lovely aroma to the curry!

Substitute the coconut milk with any nut milk, cow’s milk or creamer.

The thickener made with corn starch and water can be omitted if you prefer more liquid in your curry–this is great for dipping crusty French bread or serving over rice noodles.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Curry Lemongrass Seitan Stir Fry (Mi Can Xao Xa Ot) and Slow Cooker Chicken Curry (Ca Ri Ga)


1/2 medium yellow onion
1 lemongrass stalk
3 medium Yukon potatoes
2 medium sweet potatoes
2 large celery stalks
2 medium carrots
1 medium red bell pepper
1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp curry powder
4 cups vegetable stock
3 bay leaves
2/3 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp corn starch + 3 Tbsp water


Cut off the ends and remove the skin from onion. Cut the onion half into chunks.

Trim off the end of the lemongrass and cut off a 6-inch section. Peel away the tough and dry outer layers of the lemongrass and discard. Cut the stalk in half. Using a pestle, smash the lemongrass slightly.

Chop the celery into chunks about 1/2-inch thick.

Peel the carrots and cut into chunks a little less than 1/2-inch thick.

Remove the seeds from the red bell pepper and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Remove the skin from the Yukon potatoes and cut into large chunks.

Remove the skin from the sweet potatoes and cut into chunks about the same size as the potatoes.

Heat a large pot over Medium High heat and add vegetable oil. Add the onions and lemongrass and stir-fry for 15 seconds. Add the curry powder and stir-fry for another 15 seconds. Add the potatoes and sweet potatoes and combine together. Add the vegetable stock and bay leaves and combine well. Spread out the potatoes so they are all in the liquid. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over High heat. When it comes to a boil, stir everything. Cover the pot and cook on Low heat for 10 minutes.

Add the remaining vegetables, coconut milk, soy sauce and sugar and combine together. Cover and cook on Medium heat for 10 minutes.

Combine the corn starch and water and stir until smooth. Add the thickener to the curry and gently combine. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens, approximately 3-4 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and lemongrass and discard.

Serve the Vegetable Curry while it’s piping hot with crusty French bread, with rice or over rice noodle. Top the Vegetable Curry with freshly ground black pepper and serve with a side of lime wedges and a salt and pepper combo.

Yields: 4 servings

Hearty and delicious Vietnamese-style Vegetable Curry served with crusty French bread | recipe from runawayrice.comTools I Love and Use in My Kitchen

A must-try dish! Vietnamese-style Vegetable Curry served over rice noodle | recipe from

Looking for more vegetarian dishes? Check out these recipes:

Braised Tofu and Mushrooms (Dau Hu Kho Nam)
Tofu and Eggplant Stir-Fry (Dau Hu Xao Ca Tim) Braised Seitan and Vegetables (Mi Can Kho Chay)
Vegetarian Spring Rolls (Bi Cuon Chay)
Sweet and Sour Tofu Stir Fry (Dau Hu Xao Sot Chua Ngot)
Lemongrass Tofu and Rice Noodles (Bun Dau Hu Xao)

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Fish Soup with Dill (Canh Ca Thi La)

Fish Soup with Fresh Dill--wonderfully fragrant and delicious! | recipe from runawayrice.comThis delicious soup is all about the goodness of using fresh ingredients.  Loaded with chunks of fish, carrots, Daikon radish, tomatoes and fragrant fresh dill, it’s a simple dish you can put together very quickly.  If you’re looking for a new and unique soup your family will love, this is the recipe to try!  The carrots and Daikon radish are a natural sweetener for the soup, so if you don’t have chicken stock handy, that’s perfectly ok.  This soup is definitely substantial enough to be served as a main dish so enjoy it with rice or noodles for a simple and quick meal.  Bon Appetit!

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Sour Soup with Fish (Canh Chua Ca).


12 oz mahi mahi fillets (or any fish of your choice)
1 small shallot
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/3 oz fresh dill
2 green onions
2 small ripe tomatoes
1 large carrot
8 oz Daikon radish
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp vegetable oil
4 1/2 cups chicken stock


Peel the shallot and finely chop.

Cut fish fillets into 1-inch wide sections and place into a bowl.  Add 1/2 of the chopped shallots, 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce, ground black pepper and combine well.  Allow to marinate while continuing with the next steps.

Remove the skin from the carrots and radish.  Cut into chunks approximately the same size.

Cut the tomatoes into wedges.

Cut off the white section of the green onions.  Cut this section into slivers.  Cut the green stems into 2-inch sections.

Cut the fresh dill into 2-inch sections.

Heat a skillet over Medium heat and when hot, add vegetable oil.  Add the remaining chopped shallots and tomato paste and stir-fry for 15-20 seconds.  Add the tomatoes and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes or until they just start to soften.  Transfer to a plate and set aside for now.

Put the carrots, radishes and chicken stock into pot and bring to a boil over High heat.  Reduce the heat to Low and cook for 7-8 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

Add the fish and bring the soup to a boil again over High heat.  Reduce the heat to Medium and cook for 5 minutes.  During this time, skim off any foam and discard.

Add the tomatoes and 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce.  Combine together and cook for another 2 minutes and then turn off the heat.

Add 2/3 of the fresh dill and green onions into the soup and combine.

Ladle into a large soup bowl.  Top with freshly ground black pepper.  Garnish with the remaining fresh dill and green onions.

Serve hot!

Yields: 4-6 servings

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Hearty Vietnamese Fish Soup with Fresh Dill--one of the easiest soups to make!

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Pressure Cooker Pho Ga/Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

Made this awesome popular noodle soup in a pressure cooker and it was super-easy. Shortcut cooking method but not a shortcut in flavor--Check out this authentic recipe!Pho Ga has become so mainsteam that most folks refer to the dish by its Vietnamese name rather than the translated name “Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup”. What is it about this unassuming soup that has captured everyone’s hearts and tummies? The answer:  simple ingredients–rice noodle and chicken served in an intoxicating broth layered with earthy, aromatic spices. The dish is then enjoyed with abundant fresh herbs and garnishes which further enhance the gastronomic journey! In a word, it’s AMAZING! 🙂

Now that your mouths are watering, let’s get to the recipe. In this post, I share a non-conventional approach for making Pho Ga in a pressure cooker. It’s easy, convenient and allows you to enjoy authentic, homemade pho with minimal fuss. I love this recipe because it’s so easy. I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know what you think!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

The pressure cooker I am using is the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker, 6Qt/1000W. This electric appliance takes the guesswork out of using a pressure cooker.  It’s super easy to use and to clean.

Make the chicken stock from scratch if you have time. (Check out the recipe I shared earlier.) If you’re pressed for time, a store-bought organic chicken broth works great too.

When charring the onion and ginger, it can get fairly smoky so turn on the exhaust fan. The onion and ginger get pretty black but don’t worry as the skin will be removed. If you’re not comfortable with roasting over an open-flame, use a cast-iron pan.

Washing the chicken is a very important step. It rinses away any residual blood and bits that often make the soup cloudy. I use a big bowl to catch the rinse water and this way I can tell the chicken is clean when the water is clear.

If your pressure cooker has a tendency to burn the food touching the bottom of the pot, put down a layer of celery or carrots and then place the chicken on top. The vegetables will buffer the chicken and serve as a natural sweetener for the soup.

After the cooking time elapses, the pressure cooker switches over to a Keep Warm function.  This will keep the soup perfectly hot until you’re ready to serve.

Pho noodles come in different thicknesses and are sized as small, medium and large.  There are no hard and fast rules so choose what you like.  I prefer the medium-sized noodles and cook them for 4 minutes.  The noodles are tender but not mushy.

1 lb of dry rice noodles makes about 2 1/2 lbs cooked rice noodles.  This is a lot but some people like lots of noodles while others love lots of broth.  Most likely, you’ll have some noodles leftover.

Note that I do not season the broth with salt or fish sauce. Each person should salt his or her bowl to taste. When serving this soup, always make sure you provide a generous side of fish sauce. Avoid adding fish sauce directly to the entire soup pot because when the soup is refrigerated, it has a tendency to turn sour.

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 Crab Noodle Soup (Bun Rieu).


1 small yellow onion
2-inch section ginger
2 whole star anise
2 cardamom pods
5 cloves
1/2 Tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
3/4 oz rock sugar
1 Saigon cinnamon stick

5 lb whole organic chicken
2 Tbsp salt
9 cups chicken stock
1 lb rice stick/pho noodles, size medium

Garnishes and Accompaniments
2 green onions, chopped
ground black pepper
2 cups bean sprouts, washed and trimmed
Thai basil, sawtooth herb, cilantro, washed
red chilies
jalapenos, thinly sliced
2 limes, cut into wedges
fish sauce
hoisin sauce
sriracha sauce


Cut the onion in half. Remove the skin from one onion half and then thinly slice. Place into a small bowl and set aside for now.

Set the heat to Medium Low.  Place the remaining onion half and ginger directly over the flame. Cook each side for 5 minutes until charred. Rinse with cool water to wash off the loose char. Remove the outer layer of skin from the onion and ginger. Using a small knife, scrape off the char. Rinse again with cool water.  Use a pestle or meat hammer to slightly smash the ginger.

In a skillet over Low heat, add the star anise, cardamom, cloves, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and cinnamon. Stirring occasionally, toast for 7-8 minutes until fragrant. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Place the spices into a tea filter and tie shut with twine.

Sprinkle salt on the outside and inside of the chicken. Gently rub the salt into the skin. Wash the chicken thoroughly using a steady stream of cold water.

Trim off any visible fat and discard.

Put the chicken into the pressure cooker.  Add the onion, ginger, rock sugar and spices bag.  Pour in the chicken stock.

Cover with the lid and seal.  Set the cooker to High pressure, the timer to 30 minutes and let everything cook.

After the timer goes off, turn the valve to release the pressure.

Uncover the cooker.  Remove the onion, spices bag and ginger if visible.

Using a large slotted spoon, carefully transfer the entire chicken into a large bowl.  Cover the chicken with ice water and allow to soak for 2 minutes.  Drain the water.  Cover the bowl and allow the chicken to cool further.

Skim the broth and remove any bits floating at the top.

Soak the rice noodle in hot water for 10 minutes until limp.

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil over High heat.  Add the drained noodles and swirl in the hot water.  Boil the noodles for 3-4 minutes stirring frequently.  Drain the noodles and then rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.  Drain and rinse again with cold water.  Toss the noodles to shake off the water.  Use a salad spinner to spin the noodles dry.  Cover until ready to serve.

When the chicken is cooled, remove the breast pieces and cut into thin slices.  Remove the remaining meat from the thighs and body and shred by hand or cut into thin strips.

To serve, add some rice noodles into a large bowl.  Add some sliced onions and chicken.  Ladle in a generous amount of the broth.  Top with green onions and freshly ground black pepper.  Enjoy the soup with the fresh herbs (Thai basil, sawtooth herb and cilantro), bean sprouts, and assorted chili peppers.  Add fish sauce, hoisin sauce, sriracha sauce and lime juice to taste.  Enjoy!

Yields:  5-7 servings

Tools I Love and Use in My Kitchen


Delicious homemade pho fast-tracked using a pressure cooker. Check out my recipe!

Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup/Pho Ga would not be completed without a refreshing plate of herbs, lime wedges and chilies!

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Thick Noodles and Fish Cake Soup (Banh Canh Cha Ca)

5 Simple ingredients are all that's need to make these homemade noodles!

When you think about making homemade noodles, you probably think about passing dough through a pasta press machine and expending hours of effort just to make a small batch of noodles.  Undoubtedly, fresh noodles are amazing. This recipe for Thick Noodles is completely different and much simpler.  It doesn’t require a lot of equipment, just a potato ricer.  If you don’t have a potato ricer, you can simply roll-out the dough and cut the noodles by hand.  The dough requires no resting time so you can make the dough, boil the noodles and have fresh, homemade noodles in about 15 minutes.  How’s that for fast!?!?

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

This recipe uses equal amounts of rice flour and tapioca starch.  If you would like chewier noodles, increase the tapioca starch and use 1 1/4 cups to 3/4 cups rice flour.

Be sure to use boiling water.  The boiling water is needed to cook the rice flour and tapioca starch and activate the elasticity in the dough.  If you are not able to stretch the dough or it’s breaking off in chunks, the water was not hot enough.  This means when you run the dough through the potato ricer, the noodles will be broken into little bits instead of forming into long strands.  If this happens, microwave the dough for 1-2 minutes on High and see if that improves the elasticity.

If you’re rolling out the dough and cutting the noodles by hand, reduce the amount of boiling water to 7 oz instead of 1 cup.  This makes the dough drier and easy to roll.  Be sure to coat your work surface and rolling pin with rice flour when working with the dough to keep it from sticking.

These fresh noodles are best if consumed within 5 days.  To reheat, spread out on a plate and microwave on Low for 1 minute.  Optionally, dunk in boiling water for 15 seconds and then drain.  If using the noodles in a soup, you can also drop them directly into the broth and warm them up that way.

Click the link to see product information for the my potato ricer.  There are lots of comparable products but I like this one the best because it’s light-weight, easy to use and inexpensive.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Pressure Cooker Pho Ga/Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup and Crab Noodle Soup (Bun Rieu).


Thick Noodles
1 cup rice flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup boiling water
2 tsp vegetable oil

Noodle Soup
20 oz thick noodles (recipe above)
5 cups chicken stock
1/4 small onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp fish sauce
8 oz Fish Cakes or fish balls
1/4 chopped green onions and cilantro
1/8 tsp ground black pepper


Add rice flour, tapioca starch and salt into a mixing bowl.  Mix on Low speed for 15 seconds.  Add the vegetable oil and boiling water and mix on Low (2) speed for 1 minute.  Scrape around the bowl and push dry ingredients toward the center.  Mix on Low (2) speed for 2 more minutes.  Increase to Medium Low speed (3-4) and mix for another 2 minutes.

Dust the work surface with rice flour and then scoop out the dough.  With floured hands, pat the dough into a loaf.  Cut in half and then pat each half into a rough ball.

Prepare a water bath by filling a large bowl with cold water and then adding 1 cup ice.  Bring a large pot to a rapid bowl.  Add 1 tsp vegetable oil to the water.

Coat the inside of the potato ricer with vegetable oil or non-stick cooking spray.  Place one of the dough balls into the potato ricer and then slowly squeeze the handles together to extrude the noodles.   After all of the dough is pushed through, dip the bottom of the ricer into the water and slowly swirl to release the noodles.  Repeat the same steps with the second dough ball.  Gently stir the noodles and boil for 3-4 minutes or until they float to the top.  Transfer the cooked noodles to the cold water bath.  Swirl the noodles in the cold water for 1 minute.  Drain and rinse with cold running water.  Shake the colander to remove the excess water.  If not serving right away, add 1 tsp vegetable oil to the noodles and toss together.  Cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve.

Bring the chicken stock to a boil.  Add the sliced onions and fish sauce and simmer for 2 minutes.
Put the thick noodles into a soup bowl.  Layer on top, thinly sliced Fish Cake.  Add a generous amount of the broth.  Top with the chopped green onions and cilantro mix along with freshly ground black pepper.

Serve with a side of fresh greens, herbs, red chilies and fish sauce.  Enjoy!

Yields: 20 oz cooked noodles, 2-4 servings noodle soup

Tools I Love and Use in My Kitchen

A hearty and scrumptious soup that is so simple, you'll want this for your Top 10 easy meals.

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