Sorry for posting this up when Lent is about to end. I promise you won't notice a big difference from the traditional recipe, so feel free to use this recipe year round. I actually prefer the meatless version of Bun Rieu, so I have an excuse to LOAD up on seafood. When I was younger, I was not a fan of pork products so my mom usually makes meatless Bun Rieu anyways.
I buy canned crab meat in the refrigerated seafood section at Costco or Meijer, I prefer Costco crab meat even though it is more expensive. Believe me they are good right out of the can!
Usually we use pork neck bones to make the broth but dried prawns will work just fine. Ground pork is usually added to the "rieu" to glue all the wet ingredients together but ground dried prawns actually does a better job. I also listed V8 vegetable juice as an ingredient but you definitely can leave that off. I actually bought a case of it from Costco thinking it was something else so I'm just trying to get rid of it in my cooking. The vegetable juice add a really nice color to my broth and an extra umphh of tomato flavor. Try this recipe out and see if anybody can tell a difference, my boyfriend sure didn't!
1/2 lb of shrimp with head
2 cups of dried prawns (tom kho)
1/2 can of crab meat
1 jar of crab paste in soy bean oil (cach cua)
4-5 large tomatoes
1/2 can of V8 vegetable soup (optional)
shrimp paste (mam tom)
1. Soak dried prawns in warm water until it is more tender to use. Peel the shrimp but leave the head intact.
2. Fill 6 quart pot with water and add 1/2 of the dried prawns rough chopped. Let the dried prawns simmer in the water until tender.
3. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning to
the broth, 1 tablespoon of the crab paste in soy bean oil, 1/2 a can of V8 vegetable juice.
4. With a food processor, finely mince the other half of the dried prawns, and shrimp with head.
5. Place the minced prawned and shrimp in a mixing bowl, add the crab meat, the rest of the crab paste from the jar, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon of shrimp paste, and a couple dash of black pepper. Mix thoroughly until it become a uniform mixture.
6. Transfer some broth into a small pot and add 1/2 tablespoon of shrimp paste. Let the broth boil until the shrimp paste completely dissolve. Transfer back to the original pot.
7. Bring pot to a boil and then add small amount of the seafood mixture into the pot.
8. Cut the tomatoes into big chunks. Add to the pot.
9. Do one last tasting, add nuoc mam or sugar if needed.
10. Garnish your bowl with green onions and serve, enjoy!