Vietnamese Crab with Tofu and Rice Noodle Soup (Bun Rieu Recipe)

  • Preparation: 40 mins
  • Cooking: 30 mins
  • Skill level: Medium
  • Servings: 4 to 6

Description Vietnamese Crab with Tofu and Rice Noodle Soup Recipe (Bun Rieu)

Vietnamese Crab with Tofu and Rice Noodle Soup (Bun Rieu) is one of my favorite Vietnamese soups to make, because it is so simple and easy to whip up. I’ve made this on a weeknight before, but it’s usually a weekend recipe since it does take a little bit of prep work.
Getting all of the ingredients can be a challenge, and a bit on the pricey side – because the cost of getting real crab can be high. You MUST go to the Asian supermarket in order to make Vietnamese Crab with Tofu and Rice Noodle Soup Recipe (Bun Rieu). There’s no substitute for the Minced Crab in Spices (the Lee brand is my favorite) and I also love the funky/salty flavor of fine shrimp sauce (mam tom). It smells very fishy, so be aware.
There’s a lot that goes in this Vietnamese recipe, but don’t let the recipe list overwhelm you. It’s very simple.
It basically consists of two steps – making the pork broth, and adding the rieu mixture to the soup. I buy pork broth at the Asian market, but you can also use chicken broth if you prefer. The authentic Vietnamese version uses pork, though – since pork is an important staple in Vietnamese food cuisine. We eat a lot of pig!
Some people make their pork broth from scratch, but I think that’s way too time consuming.
If you can find it, you should buy some annato seeds to make annato oil. This will help redden the sauce at the end. I couldn’t find it at my local Asian market, so I used tomato paste instead. It did the trick, but annato seed oil works much better!


  • Sprigs of coriander leaves (cilantro), to garnish
  • 1 spring onion, sliced, to garnish
  • 8 oz (250 g) dried string-like rice noodles (bun) or rice vermicelli
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind juice
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 large tomato, cut in wedges
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced baby leeks
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cake pressed tofu (about 7 oz/200 g), cubed
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried shrimp paste belachan, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 6 cups (11/2liters) water
  • 2 lbs (1 kg) fresh medium crabs
  • Accompaniments
  • 1 finger-length red chili, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup (25 g) bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup (20 g) minced coriander leaves (cilantro)
  • 1/2 cup (20 g) mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup (30 g) sliced water spinach (kangkong)
  • 1/2 cup (20 g) sliced saw-leaf herb leaves (ngo gai)
  • 1/2 cup (70 g) sliced banana blossom or cabbage
  • 1 lime, sliced

Method Vietnamese Crab with Tofu and Rice Noodle Soup Recipe (Bun Rieu)

1, Scrub and rinse the crabs thoroughly. Detach the claws from each crab. Lift off the carapace and discard. Scrape out any roe and discard the gills. Rinse well and halve each crab with a cleaver.
2, In a large saucepan or stockpot, bring the crabs and water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, season with the sugar, shrimp paste and salt, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the crab from the soup and set aside to cool. Keep the soup hot over very low heat.
3, Crack the crab shells and remove the crabmeat from the shells. Discard the shells.
4, Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat. Pan-fry the tofu cubes until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside. Reheat the oil and stir-fry the garlic until golden brown and fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the baby leek and tomato and stir-fry until tender.
Season with the fish sauce and tamarind juice. Remove from the heat and add the mixture to the hot soup.
5, Bring a separate pot of water to a boil. Boil the dried rice noodles until soft, 5 to 7 minutes or longer as needed. Remove and rinse with cold water, then drain.
6, Place the rice noodles and fried tofu in individual serving bowls. Top with some crabmeat and pour the hot soup over. Garnish with spring onion and coriander leaves (cilantro), and serve hot with the Accompaniments.

Chef's Note

See another Vietnam Food Recipe: Hanoi Chicken Noodle Soup (Bun Thang)

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