Bún riêu cua | The hearty crab soup noodle

In a cold winter night, there is nothing more desirable than having a hot bowl of bún riêu, Vietnamese crab based soup noodle dish ((bún: rice vermicelli; riêu: paddy crabs’ paste). One of the highlights is its flavor, which is light, yet with well-rounded crab taste, not too oily, a bit sour and sweet. Such essence is embodied only in a bowl of light red colored tomato broth.

The rich protein of bún riêu comes from small crabs living in the paddy fields, rather than luxurious crabs in the sea. As Vietnam used to be an agricultural country relying on wet rice cultivation, paddy crab is a familiar ingredient to almost every Vietnamese person. In the past, many Vietnamese farmers earned their living by fumbling to catch crabs in fields, ponds or rivers.

While people may think that its broth is seafood-based, the traditional broth is actually from pork bone (pork bone is boiled for many hours so that the broth is naturally sweet).  The ‘hero’ of this dish is crab mixture (riêu), which is sautéd with tomatoes, contributing to a slight tart and sweetness of this soup noodle. That crab paste immediately melts once it touches your tongue, yet the crab flavor would remain until you finish the portion.  Bún riêu is served with broth, tofu puffs, banana bulb, bean sprouts, etc. Sometimes, people also eat with chilli, lemonade or beef, sausage. If you are a big fan of seafood, don’t forget to try bún riêu when visiting Hanoi.

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