This is Mom’s version of ‘Bún Riêu’, a recipe that you can make even when crab is out of season and better yet, simpler to make. The bulk of the time is making the stock from pork ribs which is key to having a rich background for the shrimp and crab meat dumpling. It’s a very fragrant soup due to the shrimp paste so make sure the kitchen is well ventilated!
You will need to make a trip to the Asian market for the dried shrimp, shrimp paste, fish sauce and the thin rice noodles (bún). Other than that, you can find everything else at the regular supermarket.
At the table when you have served the noodle soup, each person can add to his/her bowl generous portions of the lettuce/green mixture. If you want it to be a little bit more flavorful or salty, then add ½ a teaspoon of the shrimp paste condiment at a time to desired taste.
Shrimp and Crab Meat Noodle Soup (Bún Riêu)
- 4 quarts of water
- 1 lb pork ribs (1/2 rack cleaned and sliced into individual ribs)
- 2 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 chopped onion
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 chopped cloves of garlic
- 4 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp shrimp paste (mắm tôm)
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp paprika or cayenne pepper
- 1 cup crab meat lump (fresh or canned)
- 2/3 cup dried shrimp, soaked in warm water for at least 30 minutes
- 4 quarts of water
- 1 lb package of rice noodles (bún)
- 2 sprigs of green onion, chopped
- ¼ onion sliced thinly
- 2 heads of romaine lettuce, thinly sliced into ribbons
- ½ bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
- ½ lb of bean sprouts
Shrimp Paste as Condiment
- 1 tbsp shrimp paste (mắm tôm)
- Juice from ½ lemon
- 1-2 Thai Chili Peppers, thinly sliced
1. In a large stock pot, bring water to a boil.
2. Add pork ribs, salt and pepper to boiling water and simmer over medium-low heat for 2 hours. Once pork stock comes to a boil, skim off the top.
3. Heat a skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté the chopped onion.
4. Add to the sautéed onions, the chopped garlic and tomatoes, stir-fry for 3-5 minutes until tomatoes are half cooked.
5. Add to the broth, the sautéed tomato mixture, fish sauce, shrimp paste and simmer gently over low heat for 30 minutes.
6. In the mean time, prepare the shrimp and crab dumpling. Drain shrimp and grind in a in a food processor until coarse. In a bowl, whip the three eggs until slightly frothy. To the whipped eggs, gently incorporate the shrimp and crab.
7. Scoop one tablespoonful of the shrimp and crab mixture and slowly slide into the gently simmering broth. Simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes. Be careful not to bring the broth to more than a slow, gentle simmer or else the shrimp and crab mixture will disintegrate.
8. While the dumplings are setting in the broth, cook the rice noodles. Bring a large pan of water to a boil and add the noodles. Cook the noodles until al dente (3-4 minutes). Drain noodles and place a serving portion of the noodles into a large soup bowl and set a side.
9. Prior to serving the noodles, make sure you have prepared a platter of the lettuce and cilantro for the table. Optional seasoning for the soup at the table is the shrimp paste sauce which is made by combining the shrimp paste with the lemon juice and sliced Thai chili peppers. Note that the consistency should be on the runny side.
10. To serve the noodles, ladle into the warm rice noodle bowl the broth, make sure you have a few of the shrimp and crab dumplings and pieces of the pork meat that has fallen off the bone. Garnish with chopped green onions and sliced onions.