During the winter crab season we took full advantage, making sup mang cua (asparagus and crab soup) using fresh dungeness crabs. But we also had some king crab meat given to us by The Food Addicts and so we made some bun rieu (crab noodle soup). This soup is very hearty and great during the winter months as it combines some of our favorite ingredients of tomatoes, tofu, and crab.
Traditionally this soup is made with whole blue crabs which are then pounded in a large mortar/pestle. The crab meat is separated from the crushed body. The body of the crushed crab is then put into a fine mesh cloth or sieve and water is then strained through, forming the base of the broth. Do I make my bun rieu this way? Heck no!! It’s too time consuming!
For me, a good and easy alternative is the all purpose pork broth that I use to make many of my soups. But if I’m really pressed for time, canned chicken broth will also do.
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What make crab noodle soup special
Unlike pho or bun bo hue where there are slices of meat added, the key protein component to this dish is the crab meat mixture which adds flavor as well as texture to the soup. Some cooks like it more formed, almost like a cake. Some like it more airy and feathery, almost like egg drop soup. We like ours somewhere in between. You can adjust how you like it by the ratio of egg to meat in the recipe below. For a more formed version, add less egg and vice versa. Other optional additions include whole shrimp or oc/periwinkle.