This was once in the top dishes made from rice noodles in Asia introduced by CNN Tourism. When compared to other similar dishes such as Pad Thai in Thailand, Char kway teow in Malaysia, Vietnamese Crab noodle soup still has its own unmistakable style. According to the culinary flow of the tropical land region, this idyllic dish creates a variety of flavors rarely found in somewhere else. Therefore, in the cuisine discovery journey, this is really worth trying.
I - The origin of Vietnamese crab noodle soup
This is a familiar dish with people from South Vietnam. However, its origin truly begins from the Northern region. Since ancient times, the Hanoians are famous for their sophistication in eating, and this folk dish has contributed to the distinctive features of Hanoi cuisine. Along Vietnam, the taste & cooking way of this food has been influenced by regional factors. Thus, it is not only a dish; it is also about a diverse cultural perspective.
The northern traditional bun rieu cua, coming from an elegant place and honors the outstanding purity of the main ingredient, has a sweet taste from the crab broth, along with rice noodles, vegetables and shrimp paste. Then it spreads rapidly into Saigon and Southern provinces, a rich land where fish and shrimp are available all year round. Therefore, the dish has more variety in terms of ingredients. Besides the sweet taste of crab, the sweetness of the dried shrimp and ribs broth is also added, making the rich flavor.
In order to cook a bowl of crab noodle soup conveniently yet keep its delicious taste, first simmer the filtered crab water to make crab roe float, then filter the water and the roe separately. Next, in the broth processing stage, add wedged tomatoes to the crab water pot, then add some vinegar when you are about to eat it to increase the sour taste. Finally, put everything including noodle, crab roe, fried tofu, green onions, broth, as well as some shrimp paste and herbs into a bowl, and then you will have a mouth-watering dish. Once the tourists fall in love with this dish, they can look for packaged crab paste flour, which is easy to bring on the plane and can be given as gifts, to bring the perfect Vietnamese crab noodle soup recipe to their home.
The soft white rice noodles are the most important ingredient in this dish. It is this ingredient that creates a variety of noodle dishes that make many newcomers discovering Vietnamese cuisine confused. When looking at the noodle dishes, tourists can distinguish different dishes thanks to the main ingredients such as bun thang with sausages, chicken and thinly sliced omelets; Beef noodle soup with spring rolls and herbs; bun rieu with crab meat, fried tofu,... Over time, the next generation continues to create a variety of noodle dishes with not only traditional ingredients but still retains its inherent features. Let's discover in the next part!
II - Different versions of bun rieu cua
1 - The traditional crab noodle soup
This is known as a rustic dish recommended for everyone to experience. It has a rich taste from the crab paste, but the aftertaste is still harmonious thanks to the sweetness of the crab water. Moreover, the combination between the hot-served broth and noodles, fried tofu and spices also brings a feeling of surprise. A standard delicious bowl of crab noodle soup must have clear broth, red crab paste, a good smell without fishyness, the sweetness, a little sour, and firm crab meat.
Ingredients: rice-field crabs, crab roe, dried shrimp, tomatoes, fried tofu, onion, shrimp paste, vinegar, fresh rice noodles, herbs & spices.
2 - Pig's trotter crab noodle
Source Tri Tran
This is the combination between the original crab noodle in the North of Vietnam and the fresh ingredients in the Western part of the country. This dish is associated with the daily life of the Southern people. When visiting the Southern provinces of Vietnam, especially Saigon, you can see this food sold in street food stalls and in big restaurants, which have hot crab paste, tofu, pig blood, pig's trotters,... By changing common shrimp paste to the western version of it, adding crunchy pig's trotter and a little tamarind juice, the bowl of bun rieu cua has a sweet and sour taste which is completely different from the northern version.
Ingredients: rice-field crabs, pig's trotter, ground pork, duck eggs, tomatoes, tofu, fresh rice noodles, boiled pig blood, tamarind juice, spices.
3 - Pork crab noodle
Based on the original type, this dish is added ground pork to increase the richness for those who like flavor. Tubular bones are carefully simmered to make broth. Crab is replaced with dried shrimp. After all, adding meat mixed with eggs and cashew oil to increase fat and sweetness to broth.
Ingredients: ground meat, tubular bones, dried shrimp, fried tofu, white radishes, tomatoes, bulbs of garlic, chicken eggs, onions, fresh rice noodles, spice.
4 - Vegetarian crab noodle soup
This dish, refined delicately into a vegetarian dish, is not only using vegetables but also requires the carefulness in the selection and preparation of ingredients. In this vegetarian dish, soy milk is the main ingredient making it a nutritious food. Besides, the addition of tomatoes, tamarind juice, fried tofu and herbs brings a new taste to vegetarian enthusiasts.
Ingredients: tomatoes, soy milk, tofu, fermented tofu, mushroom, tamarind juice, shallots (replace for green onions), split water spinach, perilla leaves, rice noodle, vegetables including kohlrabi, white radish, chayote, carrot.
In addition, there are also very unique variations that are crab noodle soup with eggs, with balut, with beef and mushroom:
It is simply made by adding balut to the common type to increase the fat and richness in the food. You should have this dish when it rains slightly. You can easy find this kind of food in street food stalls in Hanoi; this recipe is unpopular in Ho Chi Minh city.
With beef and mushroom
This kind of food is similar to the balut version. Beef and mushroom are put into the bowl of crab noodle. They add more ingredients to avoid boredom and bring another way to enjoy it.
III - Some famous bun rieu cua restaurants
1 - In Hanoi
Source: Ninh Tito
Bun rieu Huyen Thu
The restaurant has been opening for 30 years on Quang Trung Street. It is highly appreciated by its longevity as well as the quality of the dishes. Therefore Bun rieu Huyen Thu is a familiar address of local people as well as tourists.
Address: 2F Quang Trung Street, Hoan Kiem District
Opening time: 6 a.m - 2 p.m
Price: 30,000 - 70,000VND/bowl.
Bun rieu Thanh Hong
Bun rieu Thanh Hong, 20 years old, still retains the old origin taste, which is the core point for the restaurant to retain customers when coming here. Besides Vietnamese crab noodle soup, the restaurant also serves crab paste hotpot, mixed noodles,...
Address: 42 Hoa Ma Street, Hai Ba Trung District
Opening time: 6.30 a.m - 10 p.m
Bun rieu ngo Hong Phuc (at Hong Phuc alley)
With a rich, sweet, sour, and spicy broth, the crab noodle restaurant located in the middle of Hong Phuc alley has attracted crowds of visitors over time to enjoy a delicious taste that is rare anywhere.
Address: 22 Hong Phuc alley, Ba Dinh District
Opening time: 3 p.m - 12 p.m
Price: 20,000 - 50,000VND/bowl.
2 - Bun rieu cua restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City
Bun rieu ganh cho Ben Thanh (near Ben Thanh market)
Located on Phan Boi Chau street, this restaurant has been open for 40 years. The good smell of food spreads so that the passers-by could not help eating it. The bun rieu soup here has a not salty, not light taste and the clear delicious sweetness broth. According to the owner, the sauce here is the soul of their dishes.
Address: 4 Phan Boi Chau Street, Ben Thanh ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening time: 8 a.m - 7 p.m
Price: 35,000 - 40,000VND/bowl
Bun rieu hem Ong Tien (in Ong Tien alley)
Operated by a friendly and enthusiastic owner, this place serves attractive food with a variety of ingredients. That is a plus point that makes many diners consider the restaurant a familiar place to visit when wanting to enjoy Saigon's cuisine.
Address: 96 Phan Dinh Phung alley, Ward 17, Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening time: 9 a.m - 4 p.m
Price: 25,000 - 40,000VND/bowl
Bun rieu Miss Nga
Opened in 1988, Miss Nga's bun rieu noodle restaurant is the number one place in district 4 to enjoy a good bowl of crab noodle. The delicious taste of broth, crab paste, and pig's trotter creates unforgettable highlights.
Address: 64 Nguyen Huu Hao Street, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening time: 12 a.m - 7 p.m
Price: 20,000 - 35,000VND/bowl
Vietnam is a rich culinary country, where it serves a full range of dishes mixed from East to West culinary cultures. The existence of simple dishes such as bun rieu cua or crab noodle soup with the age of nearly half a century still brings such an interesting and unique harmonious taste.