Bun Rieu Cua – A Vietnamese traditional noodle soup

This is a very traditional noodle soup in Vietnam and a favorite of many. It is not as popular as pho for it’s more exotic ingredients such as a shrimp paste and has a very seafoody taste. It’s a tomato based soup and often serve with “crab cake” – I believe that is the best translation for it. I like this dish because it is very healthy and, of course, tasty! It’s not a terribly time consuming recipe either – or at least not the way I cook it –  and that’s how I like it! Us working people don’t have time to shell a crab right? I like to top it with lots of fresh cabbage and bean sprouts. The recipe I made today is only with crab. Usually, people many more ingredients in, such as fried tofu and snails. However, I was short of ingredients and didn’t want to run back to the grocery store.

Bun Rieu Cua – Tomato base noodle soup with crab


  • About 4 lbs of pork spare ribs
  • 2 Ginger root
  • 2 Onions
  • 1.5 lb of Ground Pork
  • 1 bunch of Green onion
  • 1 lb of diced shrimp
  • Chili powder
  • 1 Jar of  Shrimp Paste (with soya bean oil)
  • 1 Can of Gia Vi Bun Rieu (bun rieu spices)
  • 1/4-1/2 Can of crab meat – Blue star brand is the BEST
  • 7-9 Eggs
  • 18-20 Roma Tomatoes – quartered
  • Vegetarian soup base – I like the Quoc Viet brand
  • Mushroom Powder
  • Tamarind Powder
  • Salt/Sugar
  • 1 1/2 bunch of noodles – cook according to package; Iuse Bun Tuoi Dac Biet
  • Toppings (all optional): Bean Sprouts, Basil, Red/Purple Cabbage, Bananablossoms (Bap chuoi), mint, cilantro, lemons/limes, Shrimp paste – Mam ruoc (Traditionally served)



Preparing the meat

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Section the ribs (1 rib bone per piece). Cut out and any fat you can and discard. 3. Place ribs in boiling water for 2-3 min. Take out and wash ribs. 4. In a pressure cooker, place ribs, ginger, and an onion half inside and fill with water. Cook on high until pressure cooker whistles. ***Optional: you can add a little dried shrimp into the pressure cooker for more flavor.

The Crab Cake

1. Dice 1 1/2 of a white onion. Fry in a pan until very golden brown. Set aside and let cool. 2. Cook the ground pork. Set aside 3. Cook the shrimp with a little green onion. Set aside 4. Your onion should be cooled by now. Add in the chili powder. I let the onion cool because the chili powder turns brown if it is too hot rather than a nice red color. 5. In a large bowl, mix together the half the cooked onion (the rest is for later), ground pork, and shrimp. 6. Stir in half the jar of shrimp paste, the can of gia vi bun rieu, and 1/2 of the jar of crab meat. 7. Slowly add in the 7-9 eggs. 8. Add salt and pepper – Taste 9. In a very large pan, cook the mixture on medium and covered. The bottom will cook before the top. When you start seeing this, poke through to the bottom to allow the top liquidy part to seep through. Also lower the heat when the bottom starts solidifying to prevent burning. Cook throughly and set aside.


Fully cooked

The Soup 1. Fill a large pot halfway with water. Add a little salt. 2. Pour all contents of the pressure cooker into pot. Allow the broth from the pressure cooker to fill the rest of the pot. Bring pot to boil 3. On boil, add in your tomatoes and the rest of your cooked onion 4. Add mushroom powder, the vegetarian soup base , and tarmarind powder to taste. Add salt and sugar if necessary. Taste taste taste!!!
5. In individual bowls, separate the noodles. Microwave the noodles if they’ve gone cold. Add in diced green onion and pieces of the crab cake on top of noodles. Spoon in broth and serve with toppings. Enjoy! Happy Cooking!


About cookingvivi

Part time eye doctor, occasional world traveler, full time food lover
This entry was posted in Noodles and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Bun Rieu Cua – A Vietnamese traditional noodle soup

  1. Anonymous says:

    What do i do if i dont have a pressure cooker?

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