Friday Food Definition: Bún riêu

Every time I go to Houston, my mom makes a huge pot of bún riêu for me and I eat it for every single meal I have at home. My schedule is usually as follows:

Friday night get into Houston. Eat a bowl of bún riêu .

Stay up late either at home or out with friends.

Saturday, wake up with help of alarm at around 11am. Eat a bowl of bún riêu .

Go out and play with friends, eat lunch (yes I eat this often and it usually hurts when I’m in Houston) with friends.

Go home somewhere between 5pm to 7pm. Eat a bowl of bún riêu.

Between 6pm to 8pm, eat dinner with friends.

Play all night with friends.

Sunday morning at around 10 am, eat a bowl of bún riêu.

At around 12pm eat lunch or brunch with friends.

I LOVE THE STUFF. It makes me incredibly sad that it’s not a popular dish in actual Vietnamese restaurants. I always look for it when I dine out at Viet places and have only found one eatery who offered it (Lilly’s Sandwiches in Chinatown, Austin, Texas back in August 2008. That’s the thing about being a food blogger who also journals, I can time and date a lot of my meals!) and it was of course significantly sub par to momma’s. My mom suspects it’s not popular because it’s not a very meaty soup. A lot of the other traditional noodle soups from Vietnam are beefy. I guess the solution to this is finally learn how to make it.

Here’s the photo of the bowl I had at Lilly’s Sandwiches in 2008:

Bun Rieu

So because I wanted an excuse to post a photo of my mom’s fantastic version, I’m making it my FFD post this week. Here is what wikipedia has to say about bún riêu:

Bún riêu is a Vietnamese meat rice vermicelli soup. There are several varieties of bún riêu, including bún riêu cua, bún riêu cá, and bún riêu ốc.

Bún riêu cua is served with tomato broth and topped with crab or shrimp paste. In this dish, various freshwater paddy crabs are used, including the brown paddy crab found in rice paddies in Vietnam. The crabs are cleaned by being placed in clean water to remove dirt and sand. The crabs are pounded with the shell on to a fine paste. This paste is strained and the crab liquid is a base for the soup along with tomato. The crab residue is used as the basis for crab cakes. Other ingredients for this dish are: fried tofu, mẻ or giấm bổng (kinds of rice vinegar), Garcinia multiflora Champ., annatto seeds (hạt điều màu) to redden the broth, huyết (congealed pig’s blood), split water spinach stems, shredded banana flower, rau kinh giới (Elsholtzia ciliata), spearmint, perilla, bean sprouts and chả chay (vegetarian sausage). This dish is rich in nutrition: calcium from the ground crab shells, iron from the congealed pig’s blood, and vitamins and fiber from the vegetables.

A lot of people put the congealed pig’s blood in it and though I do not have a thing against congealed pig’s blood (funny fact, growing up my parents lied to me and told me congealed pig’s blood was chocolate), I just don’t eat it with my bún riêu. Also, a lot of people tear in fresh herbs but not me (which kills my momma). I eat it with my mom’s fantastic broth, noodles, fried tofu, tomatoes, and that awesome crab meat. Here’s a photo of my momma’s bún riêu.

Bún riêu

I miss mom now.

  • mef

    Your mom’s version look really good. I know part of that is the pictures, but part of it is just that your mom’s looks really appetizing. Between you and Carl I’ve got such cravings today. I think it’s kinda disturbing that your parents told you the pig’s blood was chocolate though. Not because pig’s blood is necessary disgusting or even because they lied to you, but CHOCOLATE IN THE SOUP? What were they thinking.

  • Linda

    meffy,
    yes, the first picture is a cell phone picture so quality of photos themselves differ, but i do agree. i think mom’s looks more appetizing. could be we’re bias but i doubt it :)

    lol yes. chocolate!
    they used to have a whole dish you can order of just congealed pig’s blood and that’s what they would tell us. you’re eating chocolate!!

    i don’t think I learned it was pig’s blood til college!!!

    parents.
    – linda

  • kim

    um. that looks YUM. you may need to bring me a bowl next time you’re home. eat it at home, then bring some to my place and eat again! :) also, re: the pig’s blood thing. there’s a filipino dish called dinuguan that uses pig’s blood and they trick every little filipino kid by saying it’s “chocolate meat.” (seriously, ask every filipino person you know). i didn’t learn it was blood until high school, i think. i like it now. but after i learned, i didn’t eat it for YEARS.

    • Linda

      Kim,
      OKAY! Can’t wait til I’m in Houston next. I should plan that soon.
      lol chocolate meat is even more ridiculous than just plain chocolate.
      I have never had Filipino cuisine. Hmmm. I may have to get you to show me a place in Houston. I’m sure Houston’s flilipino eats are more present than in Austin.

      – linda

  • kim

    maybe i’ll have my mom make one of my favorite filipino dishes to share with you. it’s made with oxtails and peanut butter!! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kare-kare

  • Von

    Okay! I’m so glad you had a topic on bun rieu! This is probably my FAVORITE vietnamese noodle dish! And interesting that you eat it with tofu and whoever its it with pig’s blood. I only eat with the crab meat, FRESH HERBS (esp mints), and lettuce! As far as pig’s blood, my mom told me it was blood and i STILL ate it with my chao! Love it. We must compare bun rieus some time.

  • Von, do you know how to make it?
    I haven’t the slighest clue. I’m a bad viet girl.
    I love pig’s blood in my chao or by it self at dim sum. and I’m impressed you were so open minded about eating blood as a kid :)
    – Linda

  • Your mom’s looks AMAZING. Nom!

  • Next time in Houston, I’m goin over to eat it

    • Linda

      Thomas: plan!

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