Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm

Bún đậu mắm tôm is a Hanoi dish of fried tofu, rice noodles, and various toppings to serve with a pungent shrimp paste as a dipping sauce.

Lastest Updated January 6, 2024
Verified by A-Z Cuisines Team
  • Street Food
  • Traditional
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Fact: At some bún đậu mắm tôm restaurants, they even provide guests with fresh chewing gum after eating to ward off the strong odor from the shrimp paste.

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Basic Information

Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm: Basic Information

Pronunciation

/boon dow mum tome/

Alternative Name(s)

No

Dish Type

Dry noodle dishes

Course

Main Course

Mealtime

Lunch, Dinner

Popular Variations

No
Origin and Region

Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm: Origin and Region

Origin

Vietnam

Continent’s Region

Southeast Asia

Country’s Region

Northern Vietnam

Associated Region

Unspecified
Vietnam Map
Ingredients and Preparation

Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm: Ingredients and Preparation

Main Ingredients

Rice noodles, tofu, fermented shrimp paste (mắm tôm)

Main Cooking Method

Deep-frying (for tofu), mixing (for the fermented shrimp paste)

Preparation Process

Tofu is fried until golden and served with rice vermicelli. Accompanied by mắm tôm for dipping.
A Deep Dive

Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm: A Deep Dive

Cultural Significance

A popular traditional dish in Northern Vietnam, especially in Hanoi

Taste

Savory, salty

Texture

Varies based on ingredients

Aroma

Pungent

Color

Golden brown tofu with white noodles and pinkish mắm tôm

Serving Style

On a big bamboo tray with separate dipping sauce

Serving Temperature

Hot (tofu) and room temperature (noodles)

Accompaniment

Fresh herbs, vegetables

Occasions

On any occasions

Seasons

Year-round

Special Diets

Gluten-free

Calories

700 calories, according to data of MyFitnessPal for 1 serving of Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm.

Popularity

Vietnam

Popular Similar Dishes

  1. Bún Mắm Nêm
  2. Ốc Nấu Chuối Đậu
  3. Bún Riêu Cua

Popular Dining Area

Street food stalls and local eateries in Hanoi and other parts in Vietnam.

Bún đậu mắm tôm is a Vietnamese dish originating from Hanoi of the Northern region that revolves mainly around a pungent shrimp paste known as mắm tôm.

Bun Dau Mam Tom Overview

This street food dish with a strong, bold flavor dipping sauce is the main highlight for serving with fried tofu and rice noodles.

Although the exotic concept of bún đậu mắm tôm only revolves around those three mentioned elements, people later introduced other options like fish cakes, vegetables, pork, fermented pork sausage (nem chua), or pickled eggplants.

Ideally, the shrimp paste used for traditional bún đậu mắm tôm should be customized with the addition of lime or kumquat juice, chili, and sugar to tone down the odor potency.

In some places, people even add a bit of hot oil to the shrimp paste to bring out additional aroma from the dipping sauce.

Most often, bún đậu mắm tôm is a meal shared among a group of people when everything is served neatly in a tray. In Vietnam, it’s a must-try for foreigners seeking exotic flavors.

To better understand bún đậu mắm tôm, I strongly suggest looking into the process of making this dish along with the local way of enjoying it.

Then, discover the vegetables used to diversify the flavor of bún đậu mắm tôm along with the advantages and disadvantages of eating it.

Also, don’t miss some interesting inquiries about bún đậu mắm tôm and some suggestions about specialties that resemble it.

Key Points

  • Bún đậu mắm tôm is a dish from the Hanoi capital of Vietnam.
  • The dish is a combination of fried tofu, fresh rice noodles, various toppings, vegetables, and a shrimp paste dipping sauce called mắm tôm.
  • The mắm tôm is known for its unique, strong, and bold flavor.
  • Bún đậu mắm tôm is often enjoyed as a lunch item in Hanoi and is ideal for sharing with a group.

Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm Images

How to Prepare Bun Dau Mam Tom at Home?

Here’s how the local Vietnamese easily materialize a set of bun dau mam tom with some of the simplest cooking processes:

Preparing the Tofu

Start with firm tofu blocks, drain and press to remove excess water, cut into bite-sized cubes or slices, heat oil in a frying pan, fry tofu until golden brown, and drain on paper towels.

Prepare Additional Toppings

Depending on the toppings, people often boil meat or fry fish cakes to serve along with the tofu.

Preparing the Mắm Tôm (fermented shrimp paste dip)

Mix mắm tôm (fermented shrimp paste) with lime or kumquat juice, add sugar and minced chili to taste, stir until smooth.

Preparing the Rice Vermicelli

Boil water, add dried rice noodles, and cook until soft, drain and rinse with cold water. Alternatively, you don’t need to boil the noodles if they are fresh.

Accompaniments

Enjoy with sides like fresh herbs, vegetables, and sliced chilies.

Serving

On a plate or bamboo tray, place rice noodles, add fried tofu pieces, serve with fresh greens, and provide mắm tôm dip on the side.

Once you’ve got the hang of what it takes to make bun dau mam tom, don’t forget to learn the right way to enjoy this pungent specialty.

How to Eat Bun Dau Mam Tom?

Eating bún đậu mắm tôm is a delightful experience that combines various textures and flavors. For that, here’s a general guide on how to enjoy this dish:

  • Adjust to taste: Squeeze some lime or kumquat juice into it if you find the mắm tôm too strong or pungent. Some people also add minced chili, garlic, or sugar to adjust the flavor to their liking.
  • Start with the tofu: Pick up a piece of the crispy fried tofu using chopsticks.
  • Dip in mắm tôm: Dip the tofu piece into the fermented shrimp paste dip. In case you’re new, lightly dip the tofu with a bit of the sauce, as it’s quite hard for newcomers to get used to the flavor. For veterans at bun dau mam tom, they often dip it as much as they like.
  • Add fresh herbs: Optionally, you should also pick up some fresh herbs and dip them into the mắm tôm as well.
  • Combine with noodles: Take a small portion of the rice vermicelli noodles with your chopsticks and dip them into the mắm tôm or eat them alongside the tofu.
  • Accompaniments: If the dish comes with additional sides like boiled pork slices, fried meatballs, or seafood, enjoy them by dipping into the mắm tôm as well. Fresh vegetables and herbs are also eaten in between bites to refresh the palate.

After mastering the art of savoring bún đậu mắm tôm, it’s essential to know the right vegetables that elevate the dish’s taste and provide a refreshing contrast.

What Vegetables to Have with Bun Dau Mam Tom?

When enjoying bún đậu mắm tôm, it’s customary to have a variety of fresh vegetables and herbs to complement the dish’s flavors. For that, it’s crucial to prepare these kinds of greens:

Shiso

Shiso

A herb similar to basil, it adds a unique aroma and flavor.

Balm

Vietnamese balm

This fragrant herb enhances the dish with its lemony and minty notes.

Thai Basil

Thai basil

Thai basil has a spicier and more robust flavor compared to sweet basil, adding depth to the dish.

Lettuce

Lettuce

Adds a crunchy texture and is often used as a base for wrapping other ingredients.

Eggplant

Vietnamese eggplant

These small, round eggplants are pickled and served as a tangy accompaniment.

Bun Dau And Vegetables

Others

Depending on the region, locals will use whatever vegetables are available, like cucumber, to serve with bún đậu mắm tôm.

Having explored the vibrant vegetables and herbs that accompany bún đậu mắm tôm, let’s now weigh the advantages and considerations of savoring this traditional dish.

Pros and Cons of Eating Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm

Before enjoying bún đậu mắm tôm, here are a couple of features that you should weigh up to see if the dish will suit your appetite:

Pros

  • Nutritional value: The dish offers a balanced meal with protein from tofu, carbohydrates from vermicelli, and vitamins and minerals from fresh vegetables and herbs.
  • Diverse flavors: The combination of ingredients provides a unique taste experience, from the crispy tofu to the pungent mắm tôm and the refreshing herbs.
  • Affordability: Bún đậu mắm tôm is often reasonably priced, making it accessible to a wide range of people, especially when purchased from street stalls.

Cons

  • Acquired taste and aroma: Mắm tôm, the fermented shrimp paste, has a strong and distinct flavor and aroma that does not appeal to everyone, especially those unfamiliar with it.
  • Allergens: The dish contains seafood (in the form of shrimp paste), which is a common allergen for some individuals.

Remember, there’s always more information for you to dig deeper into bún đậu mắm tôm. For that, I suggest having a look at some of the common concerns that people have about this dish.

Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm FAQs

While the primary components like tofu and noodles are vegetarian, mắm tôm, the fermented shrimp paste, is not. However, vegetarian alternatives to the sauce can be used.

In case shrimp paste isn’t your style, restaurants also offer other dipping sauces like soy sauce or diluted fish sauce for dipping the toppings.

Traditionally, the dish isn’t overly spicy, but you can adjust the heat level by adding chilies or chili sauce to the mắm tôm.

In bún đậu mắm tôm, the tofu is typically deep-fried until it’s golden and crispy on the outside while remaining soft inside.

Similar Dishes of Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm

Bun Mam Nem

Bún mắm nêm is a Vietnamese noodle salad featuring fermented fish sauce, fresh herbs, and toppings.

Oc Nau Chuoi Dau

Ốc nấu chuối đậu is a Vietnamese dish of snail braised with green bananas, tofu, pork belly, and spices to achieve a thick sauce.

Bun Rieu Cua

Bún riêu cua is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of rice vermicelli, a clear crab-based broth, crab cakes, and other toppings.

Truc Tran (Kris)

Truc Tran (Kris)

Senior Food Editor

Expertise

Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Baking and Pastry, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Vietnamese Food Evaluation Expert

Education

  • Hospitality (Commercial Cookery) at TasTAFE
  • Culinary Arts at Kendall College (Australia Branch in Sydney)
  • Vietnamese Cuisine Head Chef at HNAAu School (Vietnam, International Joint Training Program)

Truc Tran (Kris), an experienced food writer and editor, is great at exploring and describing global cuisines, from simple street food to fancy dining. In her writing, she skillfully mixes different flavors, cooking methods, and culinary traditions, showing the unique character of various cultures through their food and drinks. On azcuisines.com, Kris highlights her knowledge, especially in Asian cuisine and worldwide traditional dishes.

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