Bún Riêu Cua

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

Lastest Updated January 6, 2024
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Fact: Crabs for “bún riêu cua” were sourced from rice paddies, highlighting the tradition of using local, available ingredients.

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Basic Information

Bún Riêu Cua: Basic Information

Pronunciation

/bun rɪə kwaː/

Alternative Name(s)

Bún riêu

Dish Type

Noodle soups

Course

Main Course

Mealtime

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Origin and Region

Bún Riêu Cua: Origin and Region

Origin

Vietnam

Continent’s Region

Southeast Asia

Country’s Region

Northern Vietnam

Associated Region

Unspecified
Vietnam Map
A Deep Dive

Popular Bún Riêu Cua Variations

Ingredients and Preparation

Bún Riêu Cua: Ingredients and Preparation

Main Ingredients

Rice paddy crabs, tomatoes, rice vermicelli noodles, various herbs

Main Cooking Method

Simmering

Preparation Process

Cook broth, prepare crab paste, assemble soup with cooked vermicelli and garnish with herbs and other toppings.
A Deep Dive

Bún Riêu Cua: A Deep Dive

Cultural Significance

Integral part of Vietnamese cuisine, reflecting regional biodiversity and traditions.

Taste

Savory

Texture

Combination of soft noodles with varied toppings providing crunch and chewiness.

Aroma

Fragrant

Color

Reddish hue from tomatoes, with greens from herbs

Serving Style

In a bowl

Serving Temperature

Hot

Accompaniment

Herbs, bean sprouts, lime wedges, banana blossom, shrimp paste, chili sauce.

Occasions

On any occasions

Seasons

Year-round

Special Diets

Gluten-free

Calories

534 calories, according to data of MyFitnessPal for 2 cups of bún riêu cua.

Popularity

Vietnam

Popular Similar Dishes

  1. Bánh canh
  2. Bún Ốc
  3. Canh Bún
  4. Bánh Canh Cua
  5. Crab bee hoon

Popular Dining Area

Street vendors, restaurants, eateries, households

Bún riêu cua, or shortly bun rieu, is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup known for its distinctive and flavorful tomato broth, which is enriched with crab and shrimp paste.

Bun Rieu Cua Overview

The dish features rice vermicelli noodles, which are called “bún,” and the “riêu” refers to the crab cake that is typically made from a mixture of ground rice paddy crabs.

It is often garnished with fresh herbs, like coriander and perilla, bean sprouts, chopped green onions, and served with a side of lime and chili to enhance its flavor.

Bún riêu cua is celebrated for its complex and satisfying combination of sweet, savory, and tart notes, and is a staple in Vietnamese cuisine.

Let me guide you through the dish’s features, its roots, component details, variations, the best ways to eat it, where you can find it, its good and not-so-good points, how bún riêu cua is different from canh bún, and dishes that are kind of like it.

Key Points

  • Bún riêu cua is a traditional Vietnamese soup originating from Northern Vietnam.
  • It is characterized by its tangy tomato broth and rich crab flavor.
  • Bún riêu cua is typically served hot, often garnished with additional fresh herbs and other condiments.
  • Bún riêu cua varies regionally, with differences in toppings and broth complexity.
  • It is a popular dish in Vietnam, served from street food stalls to family meals.

Bún Riêu Cua Images

Where Is Bun Rieu Cua from?

Bún riêu is a traditional Vietnamese soup with a distinctive sour flavor that originates from the country’s northern region.

The exact historical origins of Bun Rieu are not well documented, as is the case with many traditional dishes worldwide. It likely evolved over time from local ingredients and cooking techniques.

As with many Vietnamese dishes, regional variations exist. For example, in the southern part of Vietnam, Bun Rieu includes a greater variety of ingredients.

What’s in Bún Riêu Cua?

Ingredients Found In Bun Rieu
Common ingredients found in bún riêu cua at street food stalls in Vietnam.

Here are the typical ingredients in a classic bún riêu cua:

IngredientsDescription
Riêu (Crab Mixture)Rice paddy crabs crab paste or minced crab
Ground pork (optional)
Eggs (optional)
Dried shrimp (optional)
BrothTomatoes (freshly chopped or canned)
Chicken or pork bones (for the stock)
Onion
Shallots
Garlic
Annatto seeds or oil (for coloring)
Tamarind paste or vinegar (for a sour note)
Water or stock
Aromatics and SpicesLemongrass (bruised)
Fish sauce
Salt
Sugar
Chili pepper or chili sauce
NoodlesBún (rice vermicelli noodles)
Herbs and GarnishesFresh herbs (typically a combination of cilantro, perilla, mint, and Vietnamese balm)
Bean sprouts
Lime wedges
Sliced banana blossom
Deep-fried tofu (optional)
Blood cubes (optional)
Green onions and cilantro for topping
Shredded morning glory (optional)
AccompanimentsFish sauce
Shrimp paste
Chili paste or fresh chilies
Lime wedges
Tamarind sauce (optional)

The variety of components listed provides a glimpse into the complex and customizable nature of bún riêu cua, highlighting the dish’s ability to embrace regional variations and personal touches.

What Are Different Variations of Bún Riêu Cua?

Bún riêu cua varies by region, with the Northern and Southern versions. Moreover, there are also 13 variations by ingredients as explained below:

Variations by Region

Here’s a comparative table outlining the differences between the Northern and Southern versions of bún riêu cua:

Variations by Ingredients and Cooking Methods

Below is a table that outlines the variations of bún riêu cua by ingredients and cooking methods, focusing on the main ingredients (including tomato and crab-based broth), and their characteristics:

Bun Rieu Cua Dong

Has a more delicate and sweet taste from the rice paddy crab.

Bun Rieu Cua Bien

Features a distinct seafood flavor with fresh and briny notes.

Bun Rieu Cua Bap Bo

Combines the richness of beef with the sweetness of crab.

Bun Rieu Cua Be Be

Offers a unique texture and flavor from the mantis shrimp.

Bun Rieu Cua Oc

Known for its chewy texture and a mix of seafood and earthy tastes.

Bun Rieu Tom

Highlighted by the sweet and succulent flavor of shrimp.

Bun Rieu Tom Kho

Features the concentrated and intense flavor of dried shrimp, offering a deeper umami taste compared to fresh shrimp

Bun Rieu Gio Heo

Features the gelatinous and rich texture of pork trotters.

Bun Rieu Cha Ca

Known for its firm texture and mild, sweet fish flavor.

Bun Rieu Ghe

Rich in crab flavor, with the luxury of crab roe and sometimes the sweetness of soft-shelled crab.

Bun Rieu Vit

Characterized by the savory depth that duck meat provides to the broth.

Bun Rieu Chay

A vegetarian version, often with a lighter and herbal flavor profile.

Lau Rieu Cua

A communal hot pot with a rich and tangy broth. The flavor is robust with the essence of crab and the brightness of tomatoes, often accentuated with the same spices and aromatics found in the classic bún riêu cua.

Exploring these variations reveals a tapestry of flavors and textures that can enhance the dining experience, offering myriad ways to relish and savor this iconic Vietnamese dish.

How to Enjoy Bún Riêu Cua?

Enjoy Bun Rieu Cua
With a soup spoon in one hand and chopsticks in the other, you’re well-equipped for a gastronomic journey through bún riêu cua.

Here’s how to enjoy bún riêu cua:

  • Get the Right Utensils: A soup spoon and a pair of chopsticks will be your tools for this culinary adventure.
  • Savor the Broth First: Taste the soup first to appreciate the flavor of the broth before you start mixing in other ingredients.
  • Adjust Your Seasonings: You’ll often find on the table a range of condiments and additions such as lime wedges, fresh herbs (like cilantro, basil, or perilla), bean sprouts, sliced chilies, and shrimp paste. Add these to your taste. A squeeze of lime can add a nice zest to the soup.
  • Adjust The Shrimp Paste Mixture: You can add a bit of lime juice (or tamarind water) and a little sugar to the shrimp paste, then stir evenly with chopsticks. You can also add some ground chili or sliced chili if you like it spicy. The shrimp paste is used to dip various toppings when eating bún riêu.
  • Mix It Up: Use your chopsticks to stir the noodles, proteins (like tofu, crab cakes, or shrimp), and herbs together. This will ensure that you get a bit of every ingredient in each spoonful.
  • Eat in Combination: Use your chopsticks to grab some noodles and herbs, place them in your spoon, and then scoop up some broth. This way, you’ll experience a combination of textures and flavors all at once.
  • Sip the Broth: In between bites, use your spoon to sip the broth.
  • Fresh Herbs and Vegetables: Typically, Bún Riêu Cua is served with a plate of fresh herbs, sliced banana blossom, perilla leaves, or shredded water spinach. You can either add these to the soup or eat them on the side, occasionally taking a bite to refresh your palate.
  • Take Your Time: Bún Riêu Cua is not only nourishment but also a culinary experience. Don’t rush through it; take the time to enjoy the complex flavors and the ritual of eating.
  • Slurping is Fine: In many Asian cultures, slurping is not considered rude; it’s a sign that you’re enjoying your meal. So, don’t be shy about slurping your noodles!

To truly embrace the essence of this Vietnamese classic, seek out local street food stalls or authentic Vietnamese restaurants.

Where To Try Bún Riêu Cua?

To try an authentic bowl of bún riêu cua, here are some suggestions on where to go:

In Hanoi

Bún riêu cua Tuấn Anh
Address: 37 Hồng Mai, Bạch Mai Ward, Hai Bà Trưng District, Hanoi
Bún riêu cua Hàng Bạc
Address: 11 Hàng Bạc Street, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hanoi
Bún Riêu Huyền Thu
Address: 2F Quang Trung Street, Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hanoi

In Ho Chi Minh City

Bún Riêu 7
Address: 122 Hậu Giang Street, Ward 6, District 6, Ho Chi Minh City
Bún riêu Gánh chợ Bến Thành
Address: 163 Lê Thánh Tôn Street, Bến Thành Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Bún Riêu GỐC – Nguyễn Cảnh Chân
Address: TK18/5 Nguyễn Cảnh Chân Street, Cầu Kho Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Exploring these renowned spots for bún riêu cua not only promises a culinary delight but also provides a chance to weigh the advantages and drawbacks of this traditional dish’s rich flavors and unique textures.

Pros and Cons of Eating Bún Riêu Cua

Here are some pros and cons associated with bún riêu cua from various perspectives:

Pros

  • Flavorful: Bún riêu cua has a unique, tangy, and savory taste that is not found in many other dishes.
  • Nutritious: The dish provides a balanced meal with protein from the crab and pork, carbohydrates from the rice noodles, and a variety of vitamins and minerals from the tomatoes, herbs, and vegetables often served with it.
  • Cultural Experience: For people interested in Vietnamese cuisine and culture, bún riêu cua offers a traditional and authentic experience.
  • Customizable: It can be easily customized to suit individual tastes. For example, one can adjust the level of sourness or the types of herbs and vegetables added.

Cons

  • Preparation Time: Making bún riêu cua from scratch is labor-intensive and time-consuming, especially preparing the crab and pork cakes.
  • Availability: Freshwater crabs, which are traditionally used for the riêu, can not be readily available everywhere.
  • Acquired Taste: The distinct flavors, particularly the fish sauce and fermented shrimp paste that are sometimes added, can be an acquired taste for those not used to Southeast Asian flavors.

While bún riêu cua’s distinct flavors and cultural significance, it also requires consideration of the preparation time and palatability, all of which underscore the similarities and differences it shares with other Vietnamese noodle dishes such as canh bún.

Bún Riêu Cua vs. Canh Bún

Bun Rieu Cua Vs Canh Bun
Canh bún is at the right of the image, bún riêu is at the left of the image.

Similarities

Bún riêu cua and canh bún are both popular dishes in Vietnamese cuisine, and they share 3 similarities:

  • Origin: Both dishes originate from Northern Vietnam.
  • Main Ingredient: The primary ingredient in both is rice paddy crab, which is used to create the flavor base of the broth.
  • Noodle Soup: They are both noodle soup dishes served with a broth made from field crab and noodles.

Despite these similarities, there are also differences that make each dish unique.

Differences

There are 4 distinct differences that set bún riêu cua and canh bún apart:

There’s also a wealth of info in the FAQs section – don’t miss it.

Bún Riêu Cua FAQs

Yes, you can freeze bun rieu. It’s best to freeze the broth separately from the noodles and other fresh ingredients to maintain quality.

Bun rieu can last in the fridge for 3-4 days if stored properly in airtight containers.

Bun rieu is not typically gluten-free, as the noodles are made from rice flour and tapioca flour, which can sometimes include gluten-containing ingredients. However, the dish can be made gluten-free by using strictly gluten-free noodles and ensuring all other ingredients are gluten-free.

Bun rieu is not inherently spicy. It has a rich, savory flavor profile with a slight tang from tomatoes and fermented shrimp paste. However, spice levels can be adjusted to personal preference.

Similar Dishes of Bún Riêu Cua

Banh Canh

Bánh canh is a Vietnamese noodle soup with thick strands of tapioca or rice noodles, meat toppings, herbs, and broth.

Bun Oc

Bún ốc is a Vietnamese dish originating from Hanoi, Vietnam, made with rice vermicelli noodles, snails, and a clear and savory broth.

Canh Bun

Canh bún is a Vietnamese noodle soup with thick rice noodles, rice paddy crab broth, and often served with boiled water spinach.

Banh Canh Cua

Bánh canh cua is a Vietnamese noodle soup made with thick noodles, crabs, pork, and a rich broth.

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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