Vietnamese Crab Noodle Soup (Bun Rieu)

December  7, 2021
4 Ratings
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 2 hours
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

This is my mother's recipe. She is a very good cook and makes amazing soups. She's always experimenting and trying to find ways to improve her recipes. This soup is a pretty traditional Vietnamese soup that isn't as well known as pho, but is just as good...or even better. If you like seafood, this soup is amazing. Although it takes some time to make, you will not be disappointed. —Mary Truong

Test Kitchen Notes

Many variations of bún riêu can be sampled all throughout Vietnam, but with a homemade verison, you can adjust the spices and seasonings to your liking. It usually features a tomato broth, noodles, and crab. This recipe is more of a weekend project that's perfect to take on during the cold winter months, and the combination of flavors is simply unforgettable. This recipe calls for pork neck bones, head-on shrimp, crab paste, crab meat, and ground pork, so you know this soup will be immensely satisfying. And while you're out shopping (or ordering online), per the reviews, Mary, the developer, prefers a crab paste with soy bean oil from a company called Aroy-D and the tamarind soup powder that's made by Knorr. The broth is very straightforward to make, and you can use the shrimp that you peel for the meatballs later on. It'll take about an hour for the broth to cook, and keep in mind that the longer you let it boil, the richer and better your broth will taste. Like we said, definitely more of a weekend than weeknight project, but it's well worth it!

The meatballs come together quickly as well thanks to using a food processor. Ingredients include the peeled shrimp, eggs, crab paste, shrimp paste, sugar, and a delightful combination of shallots, white onions, and scallions. Simply cook the meatballs in the boiling broth, along with some fried tofu. The toppings are a fun choose-your-own adventure, and you can use as many or as few as you'd like. —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Vietnamese Crab Noodle Soup (Bun Rieu)
  • Noodles & Broth
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages rice noodles
  • 1 1/2 pounds pork neck bones
  • 2 pounds head-on shrimp
  • 3 tablespoons seasoned crab paste
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind powder
  • 2 teaspoons shrimp paste
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • Meatballs & Assembly
  • 2 pounds peeled shrimp (from the broth)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 white onion, half chopped, half thinly sliced
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped, divided
  • 3 tablespoons seasoned crab paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • 1 pound lump crab meat
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Fried tofu, chopped cilantro, chile sate, bean sprouts, and limes, for serving (optional)
  1. Noodles & Broth
  2. In a large pot, cook the noodles in boiling water until al dente. Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, place the bones in a large stock pot. Fill with water and boil for a few minutes; discard the water. Add 5 quarts of fresh water to the pot and boil for at least 1 hour. (The longer you boil, the better the broth will be.)
  4. Peel the shrimp, reserving the shrimp. Place the heads and shrimp shells into the broth. Continue to boil for about 20 minutes, until the broth turns red from the shrimp shells. Remove the shells and bones from the broth.
  5. Add the crab paste, sugar, salt, pepper, tamarind powder, and shrimp paste. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and add to the broth. Continue to boil while you make the meatballs.
  1. Meatballs & Assembly
  2. In a food processor, purée the peeled shrimp, eggs, chopped white onion, shallots, 1 of the chopped scallions, the crab paste, sugar, shrimp paste, and ½ cup water to a paste.
  3. Gently fold the crab meat and pork into the shrimp paste until uniform.
  4. Roll into balls with your hands and gently lower into the boiling broth. Add the fried tofu, if using, at this point. The meatballs are done cooking when they start floating to the top.
  5. Divide the noodles among bowls. Ladle in the broth with the tomatoes and meatballs. Top with the cilantro, sate, bean sprouts, and the remaining scallions and thinly sliced white onion. Quarter the limes and serve alongside for squeezing over.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Mary Truong
    Mary Truong
  • Dordorchan2
  • Mo

5 Reviews

Dordorchan2 December 27, 2017
Could you please let me know what brand of seasoned crab paste you use? Do you have a link to the picture that I could take a look? Thank you!
Mary T. December 28, 2017
Hi, I usually use this brand
Dordorchan2 December 28, 2017
Thank you so much Mary!
Mo November 7, 2017
Sounds good and look delicious. Just to clarify was it yellow Tumeric powder or tangy flavour tamarind powder(Which I couldn't find in Asian stores)?
Mary T. November 7, 2017
Hi! Its the tangy flavour of the tamarind soup powder usually found at the asian market. Knorr is the brand I usually use.