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Bun Rieu Vietnamese Crab Noodle Soup

Dive into the rich and savory world of Vietnamese cuisine with Bun Rieu. This aromatic noodle soup features a luscious broth made from crab, tomatoes, and aromatic spices, creating a symphony of flavors that will transport you to the bustling streets of Hanoi.

Bun Rieu (Vietnamese Crab Noodle Soup)



Prep time


Cooking time






  • For the Broth:
  • 500g crab bodies and claws, cleaned

  • 1 large can (400g) of crushed tomatoes

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce

  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 liter water

  • For the Crab Cake (Rieu):
  • 200g crab meat, picked

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

  • Other Ingredients:
  • 200g firm tofu, cut into cubes

  • 200g rice vermicelli noodles, cooked

  • Fresh herbs (mint, cilantro)

  • Bean sprouts

  • Lime wedges

  • Shrimp paste (optional)


  • Making the Broth:
  • Prepare the Crab Bodies:
  • Clean the crab bodies thoroughly, removing any sand or impurities. Break the crab claws to allow flavors to infuse.
  • Sauté Aromatics:
  • In a large pot, sauté chopped onions and minced garlic until fragrant.
  • Add Tomatoes and Paste:
  • Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and cook until the mixture thickens.
  • Cook the Crab:
  • Add cleaned crab bodies to the pot. Stir well to coat them with the tomato mixture.
  • Season the Broth:
  • Pour in water, fish sauce, tamarind paste, sugar, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30-40 minutes.
  • Making the Crab Cake (Rieu):
  • Combine Ingredients:
  • In a bowl, combine crab meat, eggs, fish sauce, minced shallots, sugar, and pepper. Mix well.
  • Cook the Crab Cake:
  • Heat a pan with a bit of oil. Pour the crab mixture into the pan, cooking until it forms a solid cake. Once cooked, slice into bite-sized pieces.
  • Assembling the Bun Rieu:
  • Prepare Accompaniments:
  • Cook rice vermicelli noodles according to package instructions. Arrange fresh herbs, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and tofu cubes.
  • Serve
  • In serving bowls, place a portion of cooked noodles. Add tofu, crab cake slices, and ladle the hot broth over the ingredients.
  • Garnish and Serve:
  • Garnish with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, and a wedge of lime. Optionally, serve with shrimp paste on the side.

Tips and Tricks for Perfect Results:

  1. Quality Crab: Use fresh crab for the best flavor. If live crabs are available, consider using them for the broth.
  2. Adjusting Seasonings: Taste the broth as it cooks and adjust the seasoning accordingly. The balance of sweet, salty, and tangy is crucial.
  3. To Tamarind Paste: Adjust the amount of tamarind paste based on your preference for tanginess.

Nutrition Facts

4 servings per container

  • Amount Per ServingCalories350
  • % Daily Value *
  • Total Fat 12g 19%
    • Saturated Fat 3g 15%
  • Sodium 1200mg 50%
  • Potassium 1000mg 29%
  • Total Carbohydrate 40g 14%
    • Dietary Fiber 5g 20%
    • Sugars 10g
  • Protein 20g 40%

  • Vitamin A 1700%
  • Vitamin C 35%
  • Calcium 150%
  • Iron 4%

* The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Nutritional Notes for Bun Rieu Vietnamese Crab Noodle Soup:

  • Balanced Macronutrients: The dish provides a balanced mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
  • Moderate Sodium: The sodium content is moderate. Adjust it according to your dietary needs.
  • Rich in Potassium: The dish is a good source of potassium, essential for heart health.
  • Vitamin Boost: Bun Rieu contributes to your vitamin intake, particularly in Vitamin A and Vitamin C.

Keep in mind that these values are approximate and can vary based on specific ingredients and portion sizes. Adjustments can be made based on dietary preferences and health considerations.

Alterations and Modifications for Bun Rieu Vietnamese Crab Noodle Soup:

  1. Vegetarian/Vegan Version:
    • Alteration: Omit the crab and use vegetable broth. Replace the crab cake with a tofu or seitan-based alternative.
    • How to Achieve It: Use a rich vegetable broth and prepare a vegan-friendly protein source.
  2. Low-Carb Option:
    • Alteration: Replace rice vermicelli with spiralized zucchini or shirataki noodles.
    • How to Achieve It: Spiralize zucchini or use shirataki noodles as a low-carb alternative.
  3. Gluten-Free:
    • Alteration: Ensure all sauces are gluten-free, and use gluten-free rice vermicelli or another gluten-free noodle option.
    • How to Achieve It: Check labels for gluten-free fish sauce, tamarind paste, and tomato paste. Opt for gluten-free rice vermicelli.
  4. Seafood Variation:
    • Alteration: Enhance the seafood flavor by adding shrimp, squid, or other shellfish.
    • How to Achieve It: Clean and add the seafood of your choice to the broth during the cooking process.
  5. Spicy Version:
    • Alteration: Increase the heat by adding sliced chili peppers or chili paste.
    • How to Achieve It: Adjust the spice level to your preference during the cooking process.

Detailed Storage and Freezing Instructions for Bun Rieu Soup:


  1. Broth and Crab Cake:
    • Store leftover broth and crab cake separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
  2. Accompaniments:
    • Tofu, cooked noodles, and fresh herbs can be stored separately. Keep tofu in water in an airtight container, and store herbs in a damp paper towel in a plastic bag.


  1. Broth:
    • Freeze the broth in portion-sized containers for up to 1 month. Thaw and reheat on the stovetop.
  2. Crab Cake:
    • For the crab cake, flash-freeze individual slices on a baking sheet before transferring them to a freezer bag. Thaw in the refrigerator and reheat in a pan.
  3. Noodles and Tofu:
    • It’s recommended to cook fresh noodles and tofu when reheating for better texture.


  1. On the Stovetop:
    • Gently reheat the broth in a pot on the stovetop over medium heat. Add a splash of water or broth if needed to maintain moisture.
  2. Crab Cake:
    • Reheat the crab cake in a pan over medium heat until heated through. Add a touch of oil to prevent sticking.
  3. Noodles and Tofu:
    • Cook fresh noodles separately and add them to the hot broth. If using tofu, you can warm it in the broth or in a separate pan.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Can I freeze the entire dish?

While the broth and crab cake can be frozen separately, consider making fresh noodles and reheating tofu for better texture.

Can I use canned crab meat?

Yes, canned crab meat can be used as a convenient alternative. Ensure it’s well-drained before adding it to the broth.

Is shrimp paste necessary?

While traditional, shrimp paste is optional. Some people prefer serving it on the side due to its strong flavor.

Can I make the broth in advance?

Yes, the broth can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

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