Bún Riêu Giò Heo- Vietnamese Crab & Tomato Vermicelli Soup with Pork Feet

I am documenting a pictorial recipe for my very first pot of bún riêu made especially for my little princess. It’s not perfect yet, but my daughter was happy as this was eating this noodle soup was one of her birthday wish. This pictorial recipe has not been perfected. I still have room to improve and will have to invite Luke Pham over next time to help me season the crab paste and broth.

For the past almost 40 years of my life, I have been eating my mom’s homemade bún riêu. Bún riêu is Vietnamese crab and tomato vermicelli soup. It always looked complicated to cook this. My mom used to always add pork feet when I was little. It’s one of my favorite part about this noodle soup so it’s a must ingredient for me.

  • Serving: 16-quart pot/bowls
  • Prep and Cook: 3-5hours (depends if there’s help from others)
  • Self reminder: Due to my busy schedule, I should pace the prepping and cooking steps into two days. Next time, I’ll take the kids grocery shopping on Day 1, make the rieu paste ahead, and prep the herbs. Day 2, I’ll cook the pork bone broth, noodle, and sauteed tomatoes. Then finished the cooking part. I’ll add one more lemongrass stalk for step 3 next time. And I need to make sure to use a 20-24 quart pot.

Ingredients:

For the broth

  • 3 pork femur bones (halved about 3 lb)
  • 4 pork feet (about 4.5 lb)
  • 2.5 +2 gallons water
  • 1 cup dried shrimp
  • 1-2 large (thick) lemongrass stalk – bruised
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp salt

For the riêu paste-

  • 1 lb premium Costco’s lump crab meat
  • 1 can 14-oz Por Kwan’s 14 oz Mince Crab in Spices (Gia Vị Nấu Bún Riêu)
  • 1 jar 7-oz Caravelle’s Crab Paste with Bean Oil – without the oil
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 lb shrimp with shell on and red stuff in its head*
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 tsp fermented shrimp paste (mắm ruốc)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Sauteed tomatoes:

  • 3 Tbsp annatto extract (1 Tbsp annatto seeds with 3 Tbsp vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 cup dehydrated or fried shallots
  • 1/2 cup minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4-5 lb Roma tomatoes

Other ingredients:

  • 2 quart fried tofu
  • 1 quart pig blood curd
  • 1 chả lụa (Vietnamese pork sausage)
  • 1 bag vermicelli rice noodle
  • scallions
  • bean sprouts
  • mint
  • spearmint
  • perilla
  • shredded banana flower
  • shredded water spinach stalk
  • I added 5 Tbsp sugar + 2 Tbsp fish sauce + 2 Tbsp salt + and 1/2 cup of clear mắm ruốc sauce into the pot a the end.

Note: I bought all my ingredients needed at Tien Hung Market and I-Fresh Market in Orlando. Tien Hung makes the best fresh fried tofu from scratch. Grocery shopping with my little people turned out to be almost a four hour trip.

Direction:

  1. Cook the noodles. These are my two preferred vermicelli rice noodles. Either brand is fine. I just put it in sink water so that the water is 3 inches above the noodle surface and bring the pot to a boil for three to five minutes. Scoop the noodles up with chopsticks and pinch the noodle to see if it’s just right. I also added about a teaspoon of vegetable oil into the pot while cooking so the noodles won’t stick together. Empty the noodle in a colander with running cold water. Strain the noodle. Set aside.

2. Parboil the pork feet and femur bones. I put the pork feet and femur bones in a 12-quart pot then fill it up with water just enough to cover the bones. Bring the pot to a boil on high heat then parboil on medium heat for ten minutes. Empty the pot of bones in a clean sink or large colander with running water. Rinse the pork bones. (Next time, I’ll parboil the pork feet first for ten minutes and then add the femur in for another ten minutes.)

Make the pork bone broth:

3. Put the pork bones and fork feet back into the (cleaned) a 20-24-quart pot. Add the thick bruised stalk of lemongrass and one cup of dried shrimp. Fill the pot with four gallons of water. Bring to a boil on high heat. Add rock sugar and salt to season the broth. Discard the scum or foam. Cook the pork bone broth for an hour or until the pork feet is semi-soft on medium heat.

4. Scoop out the pork feet into a bowl of ice water for a minute. This is so it doesn’t turn color. Then strain the pork feet in a colander and and set aside until ready to serve your bowl of bún riêu. Note: I started out with a 12-quart pot but ended up transferring over into a 24-quart pot. I’ll make sure to use my big pot next time.

Make the crab riêu paste:

5. Measure out the ingredients for the riêu paste. (*I prefer to use one pound of shrimp with shell and head on, the kind with the red stuff in its head so I can freeze the red stuff in its head for other authentic dishes that requires it. Half a cup of grinded dried shrimp can be substituted with this one pound of shrimp.)

  • 1 lb premium Costco’s lump crab meat
  • 1 can 14-oz Por Kwan’s 14 oz Mince Crab in Spices (Gia Vị Nấu Bún Riêu)
  • 1 jar 7-oz Caravelle’s Crab Paste with Bean Oil
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 lb shrimp with shell and heads on*
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 tsp fermented shrimp paste (mắm ruốc)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

6. Smash the shrimp to make it pasty and add it to a large mixing bowl followed by the rest of the ingredients to make the crab riêu paste. Mom said not to chop the shrimp because the paste won’t stick together as well. (I forgot to strain the oil in the canned crab paste out so I had to do that in the next step.)

7. Mix the ingredients together. The paste was too liquidy and I realized I have forgotten to reserve the oil in the canned crab paste aside so I had to do that now. The paste was too lumpy so I had my little man blend half of the riêu paste and mix it with the other half. Set the rieu paste a side.

Sauteed tomatoes:

8. Heat up 3 Tbsp oil with annatto seeds for about 3 minutes on medium heat or until the oil turns red. Strain the seeds and reserve the annatto extract. Set aside.

9. Cut up the tomatoes in halves or thirds.

10. Then I heat up my 14-inch Hexclad pan on medium high heat with the annatto extract and minced garlic for about one minute. Add the fried or dehydrated shallots, tomatoes, sugar, salt, and black pepper. Sauteed the tomatoes. Turn off heat. Set aside.

Putting it all together.

11. Bring the pot of pork bone broth to a boil on high heat. Then turn to medium high heat and quickly scoop the rieu paste with a large serving spoon into the pot. Cook for five minutes on medium heat. Turn off heat. Remove the pot from the hot stove.

12. Pour the sauteed tomatoes into the pot.

13. I did a final taste test and finished seasoning the broth by adding the following:

  • 5 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/2 cup of clear mắm ruốc liquid

Prep the vegetables, herbs, and meat.

14. I used a special tool specifically made to shred water grass stalks. I bought this tool at the Vietnamese market, Tien Hung, in Orlando. Separate the stalks and leaves. My mom would throw away the leaves but I save the nicer ones to stir fry and compose the bad ones. I washed the stalks and prep a bowl of water with lime juice to submerge the shredded water grass stalks. This will prevent it from browning and going bad.

15. Wash and strain the bean sprouts, mint, and perilla leaves. These are my homegrown mint and perilla. These two herbs grow easily with stem cuttings. Just stick the cut stems into rich soil and it will root within a week.

16. Slice the chả lụa, cut the cooked pig blood, and have the pork feet ready.

Serving Time!

Since this is a big pot, my mom said it shouldn’t be reheated over and over for individual servings. Instead, we would use a smaller pot and transfer the amount of soup for each individual serving bowl and bring it to a boil. Layer each bowl with noodle, herbs, meat, and then pour the boiling soup on top. The broth should be hot enough to blanch the greens in the bowl.

If the broth lacks some saltiness, add a little dab of mắm ruốc and fish sauce into the bowl and mix it up.

Little Ethan likes the broth, tofu, and noodle. Grace likes the broth, noodle, and chả lụa in her bowl. She approved mama’s first pot of homemade Bún Riêu and told me I make it better than my mom. She hugged and thanked me for the best birthday dinner ever! My heart melted.

Whenever I cook one of these authentic Vietnamese noodle soup that takes a lot of prepping to do, I would cook in the biggest pot so I have plenty to freeze for a future quick fix.

This pictorial recipe is made especially for my daughter, Grace. She had three birthday wishes this year. She wish to eat Japanese crepe at J-Petal, make giant bubbles, and have mama cook her a pot of bún riêu. I made all her three wishes came true. She even had her first loose tooth which lasted half a day. I tied a string around the bottom of the tooth and yanked it out once. She was so excited to have the tooth fairy to finally come pay a visit. She worried going to bed how the tooth fairy would be able to fly into the house and into the bedroom and underneath the pillow so she opened the door, and cracked the chimney door opened, and set the tooth next to her. LOL!

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