1tablespoonannato seed oil for coloringor 2 tablespoon tomato paste
Prepare the Noodles:
Cook the vermicelli noodles in boiling water, according to package directions. Set aside.
Bring the Stock to a Boil:
Add the pork stock into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the fine shrimp sauce (mam tom) and the tamarind soup mix.
Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. (If you want firmer tomatoes, add them at the end.)
Make the Rieu:
Meanwhile, prepare the rieu (the crab/pork mixture). In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground pork, crab meat, cans of minced crab in spices, fish sauce, sugar and black pepper. Add the eggs and mix well.
Adding the Rieu to the Stock:
When the pork stock boils, slowly add the rieu mixture.
Season the soup with more fish sauce, if needed. If you want the soup to be more sour, adjust by adding more tamarind mix. For more a fishy, unique flavor, add more of the fine shrimp sauce.
To give the soup its distinctive red color, add the annato seed oil, or tomato paste.
To add extra spice to the soup, add the chopped hot chili peppers, seeds included. Be careful with the peppers. The soup will become very spicy very quickly. (If you don’t have fresh peppers, you can use pepper flakes).
Serve and Enjoy:
Now, it’s time to put everything together!
Add the vermicelli noodles to a nice sized bowl. Ladle the bun rieu soup on top. Serve with bean sprouts, lime, and fresh mint and herbs. Add more fine shrimp paste to give it more flavor.
In my family, we usually serve this with the curled stem of rau muong (Vietnamese water spinach), Bap chuoi (Banana blossoms) that are thinly sliced, bean sprouts, and a squirt or two of lime.
Serves 8 to 10.
If you want your pork/crab mixer to be thicker (firmer), use fewer eggs, and use only 1 can of minced crab in mixture.