Monday, May 7, 2012

Canh bun (Crab vermicelli with ong choy)

I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend. We haven't been home for the entire weekend so my kitchen was closed for a couple of days.  Today is my day off and we are back at home, so here I am in my kitchen cooking the day away. I started out with "Canh bun", then I prepared the salted caramel filling for my macarons tomorrow (yum....yum....), and finally caramel flan for dessert tonight (can't wait to taste it).

Previously, I've posted about "Bun rieu", so today I want to introduce you to my other favorite childhood comfort food "Canh bun". They are actually two very closely related noodle soups. Beside a few minor differences, the cooking processes are very similar between the two. They both originate from the Northern part of Vietnam. In the original version, the "rieu" (shrimp cake) is prepared using the little rice-field crabs as I mentioned in previous post. However, since it is not readily available here, I invented my own version of "rieu".   I usually make a huge batch of "rieu" and divided into smaller portions. I then freeze them and use each portion to prepare the soup whenever the craving is calling for. 

As for the differences, "Canh bun" broth does not have tomato and the vermicelli noodle is usually bigger and thicker then the one you see in "bun rieu". Also "canh bun" is typically served with "rau muong luoc" (ong choy or water spinach) as in "bun rieu", the serving vegetables usually include bean sprouts, lettuce, mint leaves and shredded "rau muong".
If you love "bun rieu" like I do,  I'm sure you will also enjoy "canh bun" just as much!


For the "rieu":        
1. 1/2 lbs of medium size shrimp with heads
(peeled, deveined, reserve the gut of the 
2. 1 cup of dried shrimp (soaked in hot water)
3. 1 jar of crab meat and 1/2 a jar of the shrimp paste in oil (Pantai brand)
4. 4-5 eggs
5. 1 tsp mam tom (shrimp paste), 3 tsp sugar, 1 tsp of fish sauce, pepper

For the broth:
1. Chicken broth (enough for 8 bowls)
2. Fried tofu (from one big block)
3. Shallots (thinly sliced)
4.1/2 jar of the shrimp paste in oil
5. 2 tbsp of shrimp paste (mam tom)
6. Annatto seed-infused oil (a few tbsp)
7. Salt, 1 medium piece of rock sugar, fish sauce                    

For the serving bowl:
1. Thick round vermicelli noodle (1 bag, boiled and rinsed)
2. Ong choi (rau muong, blanched quickly in slightly salted water and soaked in iced, cold water to reserve the vibrant green color)
3. Tamarind juice or lime juice
4.  Red chili pepper and shrimp paste
5. chopped green onion and fried shallots for garnish

     Process the dried and fresh shrimp well in the food processor until they become a fine, smooth paste. Then add the rest of the ingredients for the "rieu" into the shrimp mixture, mix well and set aside.
    In a large stock pot, add some oil and shallot, stir until it turns slightly brown. Add in annatto oil, and 1/2 shirmp paste jar, mix well. After a few minute, add in the chicken broth and let the broth simmer  until boil. Season the broth with salt, rock sugar, shrimp paste (mam tom) and fish sauce. Add the "rieu" mixture into the broth, be careful not to mix or stir it. Let the rieu sit in the broth and it will float up once it's cooked, then add in fried tofu. 
   Assemble the noodle in the bowl and pour over the hot soup with pieces of tofu and "rieu". Garnish with fried shallot, green onion, red chili pepper, "mam tom". Served hot with "rau muong luoc" on the side and tamarind or lime juice.

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