Quickies Noodle Challenge: Bun Rieu

Hi everyone! Hope you’re all having a wonderful week! The lovely Denise of Quickies on the Dinner Table and my favorite Mohawk Dude, Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! are having another Quickies: Morning, Noon and Night Cooking Challenge. So this is my entry. What’s the challenge you ask? Here it is in Denise’s exact words:

The Challenge

“Prepare a noodle dish of your choice. It can be your unique twist on a classic like Mee Goreng, Pad Thai, Char Kuay Teow, Laksa, Fettucine Alfredo, Chicken Noodle Soup, Bucatini all’ Amatriciana, Mac and Cheese, Soba, Udon, …. or a concoction of your very own creation, making its debut here. Use any type of noodle or pasta and ingredients you wish. It can be vegetarian, vegan or piled with meat, fried in a wok, baked in an oven, swimming in soup or broth or sweetened for a dessert. What we’re looking for is a delicious sounding and interesting twist or creation. Think outside the box, turn cooking conventions on their ears, try something you normally wouldn’t. The most appealing and interesting or unexpected entry, wins!”

The prize is Denise’s spectacular cookbook!

If you’ve seen this recipe before on my blog, it’s because this is a repost. Out of all the Vietnamese noodle soups, this is my all time favorite. It’s a tomato based noodle soup with seafood. This dish is called “Bun Rieu”. Some of you may have heard of or seen this in some Vietnamese restaurants. Pagolac Restaurant has this dish as a weekend special. This is my “go to” dish when I have company over. I decided to post this on my blog because a lot of my friends have asked me how I make it. So rather than repeating myself over and over again, now I can just tell them to go to this blog ;-). It’s kind of a win win situation. You get to see and learn how I make this dish and I don’t have to keep repeating myself. Let’s get cooking.

Feeds 4 Garys or 4 – 6 people (you’ll see why I said 4 Garys later :-D)


  • 6-8 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 Tbsp purple shrimp paste (don’t ask me why it’s purple????)
  • 3 Tbsp canned minced prawn in spices
  • 4 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 cup clam meat (or 1 can baby clams)
  • 1 can escargots
  • 1 cup crab meat
  • 1 small package of deep fried bean curd
  • 3 cans whole tomatoes (or 8-10 fresh tomatoes)
  • 1 large can chicken broth
  • 1 package of fish tofu

Here are the brand of shrimp paste and hot sauce I like to use. The hot sauce is added to your bowl right before you eat it but never added into the pot of soup.

 Here are the brand of minced prawn in spices, whole tomatoes, and chicken broth that I also use for this soup.

Heat up the oil on high heat and dump in the garlic, shrimp paste, and minced prawn. Mix these around until the garlic turns a slight golden colour. Throw in the shrimp, clams, escargots, crab meat, and deep fried bean curd. Cook for about 10 minutes or until all the shrimp have been fully cooked.

Next throw in the tomatoes and break the tomatoes in half with a spatula inside the pot to let out more juices and flavor. Pour in the chicken broth. Then use the same can from the chicken broth and add in one can of water. Lastly, add in the fish tofu. Once your soup comes to a boil, it is ready to eat. I have a secret ingredient that I like to add to this soup. If you want to make this soup and would like to know, you can definitely shoot me an email. For now, I’m just going to whisper it in my two lovely hosts’ ears ;-). The soup will still taste good without the secret ingredient, but much better with it.

There’s one extra ingredient that you can add if you want but you can leave this out if it’s too much trouble or if you don’t have the time. I think this ingredient is worth the extra time though. You’ll need to add 5 tablespoons of minced prawn into a bowl and 5 large eggs. Some people like to add ground pork here as well, but I’m not a pork fan so I like to leave out the pork. Beat the eggs and the minced prawn together. Cover this and put it in the microwave for 4 minutes.

It should look something like steamed egg when it comes out of the microwave.

Spoon small pieces into your soup.

And now you have a large bowl of “bun rieu” to feed 4 – 6 people.

Don’t forget the vermicelli of course. Basically boil some water and throw in 1 pack of vermicelli. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes in boiling water. Strain out the water and let the vermicelli cool for about another 10 minutes. Here are some veggies that you can add to your bowl. On the left we have shredded regular and red cabbage. In the middle we have Thai basil (you can use mint as well), shredded ong choy AKA water spinach, and shredded banana flowers, and lastly, some chopped up green onions and cilantro.

This is my bowl. I added all the veggies cause I’m a veggie girl. The kids had a similar bowl like mine but smaller and all cut up into tiny pieces for their tiny munchkin mouths.

Here’s the hubby’s bowl. He added a piece of beef brisket from the beef noodle soup we had the other day (men and their meats). This bowl doesn’t look all that big here, but look at it in the picture below.

The happy, hungry hubby with his gigantic bowl of seafood tomato noodle soup. If you noticed, that bowl is bigger than his head. Dude has been referred to as “the bottomless pit” before.

If you order this at a Vietnamese restaurant, don’t expect to find that much seafood. This is my own special recipe along with the secret ingredient. I know, why I gotta be like that with the secret ingredient and all, right? Gotta keep things interesting around here somehow ;-). I hope you enjoy! Until next time, friends and family. Do you have a favorite Vietnamese dish?

37 Responses to “Quickies Noodle Challenge: Bun Rieu”

  1. 1 anncoo December 1, 2010 at 12:09 am

    WOW! I can see lots of ingredients in that large pot. Never tried Bun Rieu before, please share some with me. I love Vietnamese beef noodle with lots of basil leaves.

  2. 2 Blackswan December 1, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Lequan, I must be honest with u….. I’ve never seen such noodles before. Wow, adding shrimp paste in soup?? It’s amazing what u came up with mixing all the can food with seafood. Keep one bowl for me pls?

    Oh, good luck to your challenge!

  3. 3 Anna Johnston December 1, 2010 at 1:17 am

    Excellent, excellent…. thanks so much for this Lequan – I adore noodles and Vietnamese foods and I can’t wait to try out your recipe. I think if I were nearby I’d be wrestling your happy hungry hubby for that gi-normous bowl, it looks so good. A bowl like that, a girl could eat till she dropped 🙂
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. 4 Peggy December 1, 2010 at 4:17 am

    This dish sounds super tasty! Love that picture of your husband with that big bowl!!

  5. 5 denise @ quickies on the dinnertable December 1, 2010 at 6:38 am

    Ok – the secret ingredient, makes you, in my book, a soup noodle maestro!!! It’s also the secret ingredient in my grandmother’s daikon and pork rib soup and chicken rice porridge 😉

    This looks fantastic LeQuan! I love soupy noodles and all the goodies you’ve included in your recipe must make this the tastiest soup ever!

    Haha – Gary is a man after my own heart – I do think I can ALMOST rival his soup noodle capacity LOL And, isn’t that purple prawn paste pretty? (I love aliteration) My favourite Vietnamese dishes are Beef Pho and a kind of rice flour, shrimp, pork and onion crepe eaten with lots of herbs and a spicy, sour sweet dipping sauce. I can’t remember what it’s called 😛

    Thanks again LeQuan, for supporting our challenge 🙂

  6. 6 A Canadian Foodie December 1, 2010 at 8:38 am

    YOU CANNOT have a secret ingredient when you are posting a recipe!!!! This looks outstanding and excellent directions – except – in the end you say “secret ingredient” where did you add it – what is it? Are you pulling my leg? You are not a secret girl! Please e-mail it to me… and the prawn egg idea is wild and not too much work. I am sure it is excellent. I love learning things like this. And this soup might be easy for you – but so foreign to me… to make, not to eat – but I love the recipe and the pics and the instructions… and, I love all Vietnamese food I have ever eaten, especially those little green leaves that start with a P.

  7. 8 Lazaro December 1, 2010 at 9:24 am


    Man that is a flavorful bowl. Shrimp paste, clams, escargot, crab meat. Fantastic flavor profile. The secret ingredient is a smart additon, I can see that it would certainly improve the overall flavor base.

    Thanks for accepting the challenge and producing such a creative dish.

    That bowl is huge by the way. Much props to the bottomless pit for rocking lots of tasty Bun Rieu.

    Be well

  8. 9 Magic of Spice December 1, 2010 at 9:42 am

    I have never seen purple shrimp paste…
    Wow, this soup is just loaded with goodies 🙂 Great entry!

  9. 10 Leah @ Why Deprive? December 1, 2010 at 9:47 am

    I love the size of Gary’s bowl! Thats the best thing I’ve ever seen!! 🙂

  10. 11 Ameena December 1, 2010 at 10:42 am

    I love noodles! I can’t believe how many amazingly unique ingredients you’ve used in this dish. Shrimp paste? Escargots? No wonder Gary’s bowl is bigger than his head!

    And yes, men and their meat. Ali’s gotten better but meat must make an appearance at least once a day. I keep Trader Joe’s meatballs in the freezer for emergencies. 🙂

  11. 12 Faith December 1, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Wow, does this look fantastic, LeQuan! So many amazing flavors are combined in this dish, and I love your veggie-topped version! You are so right about men and their meats…I wonder why that is, lol! My hubby would go crazy for Gary’s delicious bowl. 🙂

  12. 13 Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron December 1, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    I’m so glad you partake in the challenge LeQuan! Once I saw the photo of it, I recalled that my mom and grandma used to make this! I didn’t recall from the name because I have no idea what it’s called haha. Is it the soup you have when you are sick? You told me in my sick post. It looks good and will def’ cure the sickness. Best of luck to you LeQuan!

    • 14 lequan December 1, 2010 at 8:26 pm

      Hey Tanantha,

      No this is not the soup that I was talking about. That’s “Bun Bo Hue”. It’s almost like pho, but it has a spicy broth. I’m going to post the recipe some time.

  13. 15 Devaki @ weavethousandflavors December 1, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Dear Le Quan – You are ahmaazing to put up this splendid production for Denise’s competion. FANTASTIC ingredients and flavors. So lovely and oh so delish!

    I am not going to be able to get my ducks, crabs or prawns in a row for that matter, this time 😦

    Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  14. 16 tigerfish December 1, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    I don’t know if I have a fav. Vietnamese dish cos usually when I eat out in Vietnamese eateries, I don’t know the name of the dish I am eating. I just eat the delicious food. Hahha! ;p

  15. 17 Biren @ Roti n Rice December 1, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    I don’t think I’ve eaten Bun Rieu before but it sure looks tasty. I like your bowl with all the herbs and veggies 🙂

  16. 18 Jos December 1, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    I definitely like the Spring Roll and the dry rice vermicelli and the deep fried shrimp paste…so good but can’t have too much..LOL. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any Bun Rieu dish in any Vietnamese restaurants..mostly are Pho here.

    That’s quite a big bowl of soup your hubby having!

  17. 19 Stella December 2, 2010 at 8:26 am

    Hey LeQuanis! I have no doubt that this bun rieu soup will be my favorite entry into The Quickies challenge. I mean that too;) I love Vietnamese food. If it were a voting challenge, you would totally have mine!
    You know, I used to work at a French restaurant when I was a teenager. My manager was a young Vietnamese woman. She would always bring me, my sisters, and our friends to the Asian sector of Atlanta (Buford Highway area) to this tiny Vietnamese restaurant. Everyone would look at her real funny like when she walked in with a whole boat load of little white kids (teens). They were always really nice to us though and we, of course, ate all kinds of delicious Vietnamese soups. Point is that I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this soup before, and it did not look nearly this good. I’m with you on the extra seafood-that makes it such a treat…!
    p.s. I need to get a can of that minced shrimp. I bet that makes so many soups all the better.
    p.s.s. that bowl is for real bigger than Gary’s head;)!

  18. 20 The Hungry Hubby December 2, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Aw shucks, now I really gotta watch my portions whenever there’s a camera in the room…

  19. 22 Stella December 2, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Hey, I’m back to paste what I wrote on my blog to you. Here it is:

    Hey LeQuanis! No, I didn’t do anything different. Maybe there’s just less blog traffic over the air waves today:) Maybe.
    Ooh, minus 25 degrees-that’s crazy! I can’t even imagine that. Hope you guys bundle up good. Yeah…
    By the way, I think this tomato soup would be excellent with some shrimp thrown in the pot during the last 3-4 minutes of cooking. That would be very LeQuanis-esque (smile).

    Yeah, that’s all I wrote. I’m feeling very lethargic today-drank a bit of rum earlier;). Or more than a bit…
    Hope you guys have a great weekend, my LeQuan.

  20. 23 5 Star Foodie December 2, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Wow, this looks like an amazingly delicious specialty! Sounds incredible with all the seafood you use and the flavors must be just fantastic. I would sure love to have one of those gigantic bowls!

  21. 24 Pachecopatty December 2, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Hi Lequan,
    I’m so impressed with this bowl of deliciousness that you’ve created for Denise’s noodle challenge, wow. Hubby is one lucky guy to tuck into a bowl of noodles prepared to include so many wonderful ingredients. The herbs, the veggies clams, crab, shrimp, all fantastic but the purple shrimp paste, now that is something different, I’m not sure I’ve tried it before but you never know, maybe somebody slipped me some before, like in a bowl of soup, lol;)

  22. 25 Monet December 2, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    This looks so delicious. I adore tomato based soups/broths, and I love seafood so I know I would be smitten with this pasta bowl. The flavors must be amazing! By the way…your husband is just precious. He is a handsome man with a caring heart (I can tell just be looking at his photograph!) We are both lucky women. Thank you so much for sharing. I hope you have a lovely Friday!

  23. 26 Quay Po Cooks December 3, 2010 at 6:24 am

    lequan,don’t even let me know the secret ingredient, I am gonna hop on the plane to come to you for a bowl of the heavenly noodles..may I have your address please? LOL!

  24. 27 MaryMoh December 3, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Oh wow….that’s a lot of lovely ingredients there! I’m so amused to see your hubby and his big bowl of noodles. That’s really a huge bowl. It would be more amusing if that bowl is in front of you…haha. Or even more amusing if in front of your boy 😀 Thanks very much for sharing that lovely noodle dish. I love the Vietnamese beef noodle soup and also the Vietnamese pancake…mmm…so delicious! Wish you luck on this noodle contest!

  25. 28 Chef Dennis December 4, 2010 at 10:38 am


    what a flavorful soup bowl! I love seeing foods from other cultures, I have to say I am not as well versed at noodle bowls as I should be…yours looks positivley delicious!
    I love the idea of a secret ingredient!! for years it was why my dishes were so hard to repicate!
    Hope you are having a wondeful weekend!

  26. 29 Jessie December 4, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Boy oh boy, I can see this dish making its way to the top of the contest list!! 😉 What a fantastic combination of flavors, LeQuan! The prawns, the fried bean curd, the escargots … mmm. I love escargots. In fact, I love ALL of those ingredients!! Except: what is fish tofu? If that tofu with fish sauce in it?? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before. And, SECRET INGREDIENT! What is it what is it what is it?? Oyster sauce? Lobster?? 😛 I must know! Pretty please!

    I’ve seen that exact shrimp paste in the Asian grocery and never really thought about the fact that it’s purple … why is it purple?? :O I love the idea of the minced prawn and egg chunks in the soup and I can see how that would totally make the dish. Did you come up with that idea? Luv it! Also love the pic of Gary aka Hungry Hubbie aka wetcoastwannabe with that enormous bowl of noodles. I don’t think my stomach is anywhere near that large!

    You’ve certainly set a high standard for the Quickies contest, LeeQs! I’m going to try to enter if I have time, but it will pale in comparison 🙂 Hope you’re having a lovely weekend! xoxo

    • 30 lequan December 4, 2010 at 11:12 pm

      Hey Jessie,

      Fish tofu is basically fish balls shaped like squares of deep fried tofu. I know, why would you want to make fish look like tofu, right? I don’t have an answer to that, but I do know my kids like to eat them and that’s all that matters…haha. The secret ingredient is on it’s way in your email ;-). The minced prawns with eggs is actually an adaptation. Usually it’s done with ground pork, but because I don’t eat pork, I left it out.

      Hope everything is going smoothly with the move. You must be so busy with moving and school. Not to mention the chaos of the holidays too. Take care, and don’t forget to leave some time for yourself to just enjoy. Have a great weekend, dear!

  27. 31 sophia December 4, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    When you cook, Lequan, you seriously go ALL OUT and make me wish you would adopt me. I thought Vietnamese dishes were simple, but you added so much luxuriant ingredients…you’re seriously the most fantastic, generous cook I’ve “met”!

    My fave Vietnamese dish…is probably their rice crepes!

    • 32 lequan December 4, 2010 at 11:28 pm

      Oh no, you showed me what true luxury is with your lemons post. I will never forget that. I always think of you when I see lemons now.

      Great ED post, Sophia! Keep them coming. Your Dad is my hero for standing up against those doctors like that. I may not comment on every ED post, but I do read every one. You’re doing a great thing with these posts!

  28. 33 eatspinlive December 5, 2010 at 7:14 am

    This recipe looks delicious 🙂 I hope you win girl!

  29. 34 Juliana December 5, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Lequan, this noddle dish sure looks so tasty with all the yummie ingredients in it…I never had steamed egg into noddle soup…something that will want to try soon 🙂

  30. 35 aletheiazoe December 6, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    LeQuan!! My housemate and I have been talking about making Vietnamese ALL TERM!!!! Actually, more specifically, we talked about making Pho, but after learning about Bun Rieu, I think Pho looks so boring now. I’ll ask her and see if she’s up for the challenge! :-))))))))) Thanks for some timely inspiration, LeeQs!

    P.S. I read Val’s latest blog about your family’s get-together at her house to bake cookies… It always makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside when I see genuine bloggers meet up and have fun family times. So, so warm and fuzzy. ❤

  31. 36 Cindy December 7, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    My favorite Vietnamese dish is probably the one you prepare when I show up on your doorstep unexpectedly. 😉

    Honestly I’m looking forward to my move West so I can have a lot more choices. Here in South Florida, Pho is mostly what I can get.

  32. 37 bet365 December 15, 2010 at 12:47 pm

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