What is Bun Rieu?
Bun Rieu (pronounced "bone real") is a Vietnamese crab and tomato based noodle soup comprised of crab, eggs, tomatoes, and veggies. It's one of my favorite Vietnamese noodle soups (more than Pho - Beef Noodle Soup). There are many different recipes on how to make Bun Rieu and every family has their own secret recipe. Perhaps I'm bias but I think my mom makes one of the best Bun Rieu. She has passed on her secret recipes to me and I've been making this dish with her since I was fifteen.
Why Soup Junkie's Bun Rieu?
Bun Rieu is the first thing I order every time I see it on a restaurant menu. But it often tastes watery and flavorless. I have not yet found a restaurant in the Bay Area that makes Bun Rieu similar to my mom's savory and flavorful version. Why? I suspect one of the reasons is the cost and amount of ingredients required to make a bowl of bun rieu. No one would be willing to pay $20 for a bowl of noodle soup right? So the challenge for me is to keep the cost reasonable and at the same time not compromise anything on the recipe.
Crab is one of the main ingredients and I only use fresh crab for the omelets and for the broth. I get live crabs, then cook and crack them myself. The broth alone takes about 6 hours to complete. For the meatballs, I get fresh pork and grind them myself. This is the only way I can get the meatballs at the texture I'm looking for.