Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bun Oc - Snail Noodle Soup

Don't mistake Bun Oc for a bowl of Bun Rieu, they do appear very similar. Both soup has a reddish hue from the tomatoes simmering in the broth. The misconception of these two soups started when people often add Oc to their Bun Rieu, which I love by the way. The broth to Bun Oc is much lighter and there is more emphasis on the tomatoes.

This recipe is inspired by my first visit to Maryland. After a long 4 hour ride I was welcomed with a bowl of noodle soup with fresh conch meat. Upon slurping the broth I can smell the sweet aroma of ginger, lemongrass and taste the sourness of the tomatoes. I added fresh fish mints, dills, and perillas to the steaming bowl, and flavor it with a teaspoon of fermented shrimp paste(mam tom). The conch meat was incredibly sweet and it felt like the lemongrass was created just to be use for this soup. At that moment I felt like I was eating at a street stall back in Vietnam, a taste of Que Huong.

Since it is lent season I used dried shrimp (tom kho) for the broth, otherwise a pork broth would be just as great. I used frozen snail meat labeled as Oc Buou (the larger snails), which saved me a lot of time on removing the shell. To flavor the broth I used a lot of ginger and lemongrass. Since snail meat is not exactly filling I added tiger shrimp to fill in the voids. Enjoy!


1/2 cup of dried shrimp (tom kho)
2 chunk of ginger (about the size of your thumb)
4-5 stalk of lemongrass
6 large tomatoes (cut into large pieces)
2 tablespoon of tomato paste (for color)
1 package of frozen snail meat
1/2 lb of tiger shrimp (remove shell)
1 shallot minced
fish sauce
rock sugar
fermented shrimp paste (mam tom)
mushroom seasoning
cooking oil
green onions/red onions (optional) chopped
1 package of rice vermicelli


1. Rinse and soak dried shrimp in warm water. When it has soften rough chop it into smaller pieces.
2. Bring a pot of water to boil, add the dried shrimp, lemon grass stalk, and ginger. Let this simmer for about 30 minutes.
3. Add rock sugar, 2-3 teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning to the broth.
4. Heat up a large pan with cooking oil. Caramelized the shallots and then add the snail meat. Season the snail meat with 1 tablespoon of fish sauce and 1 teaspoon of mushroom seasoning.
5. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste to the snail meat and stir fry. Add 1 tablespoon of shrimp paste. Stir fry for a couple minutes.
6. Add the snail meat/tomatoes mixture to the broth and let simmer.
7. Add another 1 tablespoon of fish sauce and additional sugar if needed.
8. Add shrimp and let it cook through.
9. Prepare the rice vermicelli.

Pour boiling broth over noodles and garnish with some onions. A simple and healthy meal, enjoy!


Anonymous said...

thanks for posting however you didn't mention when and how the lemongrass as well as the ginger should be added??

Thuy said...

Thank you for bringing that to my attention, how could I forget two important ingredients to this soup. I will definitely have to run through all my recipes so this won't happen again :/

Unknown said...

can you tell me how to make the snail meat tender? At the restaurant they made it very tender and juicy, but I make it taste crunchy and actually tough.


Thuy said...


Unfortunately frozen snails are usually very tough and chewy, call me weird but I actually like the chewy texture. Here are couple suggestions you can try to help tenderize frozen snails.

1. Cook the snail meat longer, it will be more tender to eat but it might lose a lot of it's flavor.

2. You can also try slicing it really thin or smashing it with the back of your knife.

3. Sauted the snail meat with cooking oil, minced ginger, minced lemon grass, a ladle of your broth, and couple dash of fish sauce. Let the snail meat simmer in the liquid until tender and then add it to the broth. Again snail will probably lose some flavor.

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