Bun Rieu


This is a tomato-tamarind soup, with pork-crab-shrimp-egg meatballs, served with rice noodles, fried shallots, scallions and water cress. This was my first boot leg attempt at making “bun rieu,” another amazing Vietnamese soup. Typically, there would also be fried tofu puffs, pork blood cubes, shredded iceberg and bean sprouts instead of water cress, etc… But man, it was really good! I’m still eating it on Day 3!


Okay, I will do my best to remember what I did, but the best part of bun rieu is definitely this meat part. These measurements are slightly arbitrary, but it consists of :

  • 1 lb peeled, raw and minced shrimp (save the shells for the stock)
  • 3/4 lb ground pork
  • 1-2 cans crab meat
  • 1-2 eggs (depending on how soft you want these feathery meatballs to be. I like them a little firm, so I use 1 egg)
  • chopped scallions
  • Very Important: 1 can of this shit (it’s minced shrimp/crab soaked in soybean oil with garlic, chilis, other stuff):


The broth, I filled a pot a little less than half way with water, and I started out by boiling the shrimp shells for about 45 minutes, and then I strained it and threw the shells away. I added maybe two more cups of water and added about 3 tablespoons (or more depending on how tart you like it) of tamarind paste to the pot, along with a handful of dried shrimp, about 4-5 plum tomatoes (wedged), and half of a vidalia onion (sliced). Let all this simmer for about 40 minutes or so.

If you want to multitask right now, you can also boil your rice noodles at this point.


The funnest part of making bung rieu is dropping in the meat balls. They do not need to be balls, if anything, the whole point is that they are loose. You can use a cereal spoon and spoon up a spoonful and drop it into the broth. Do this until your bowl of raw meat is empty. They will not take very long to cook. Once they are, you turn the heat down very low just so it stays warm, and you can season it with fish sauce and white sugar.


Pour the broth over rice noodles, top it with fresh ingredients such as bean sprouts, shredded lettuce, scallions, mint, shiso, whatever. Finally, I like to squirt with a wedge of lime, and add a little spoon of these two things right before I chow it down:

That first sauce is made with millions of ground up teeny tiny little shrimps that look something like this:

Oh yeah and of course they are fermented until they smell REALLY INTENSE!!!!!!!

SO GOOD!!!! Also try using this shrimp sauce as a dip for sour apples, it’s really really amazing.



  1. My fiancee’s family is Vietnamese and this is almost identical to the heirloom recipe they shared with us when we tried making it. Personally, I do like the pork blood, but this version of the recipe is a much safer way to do it when cooking for people who may or may not be into that.

    Good job! Pictures look great!

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