Authentic Canh Bun Bun Rieu Recipe: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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Imagine diving into a bowl of Canh Bun, a lesser-known but utterly delightful Vietnamese soup that’s both hearty and refreshing. Originating from the vibrant streets of Vietnam, this dish is a beautiful medley of rice vermicelli and a rich, tomato-based broth, often brightened with crab or shrimp. It’s a cousin to the famous Bun Rieu but stands out with its unique blend of flavors and textures.


To craft your own Canh Bun, a delightful Vietnamese soup, gather the following ingredients. They’re divided into categories for ease of preparation.

For the Broth

  • 8 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 200 grams of fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of tamarind paste
  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Crab Mixture

  • 300 grams of fresh crab meat or canned crab meat, drained
  • 2 tablespoons of minced shallots
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons of rice flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, for frying
  • 200 grams of rice vermicelli noodles, cooked according to package instructions
  • Fresh herbs such as coriander and Thai basil
  • Bean sprouts
  • Sliced green onions
  • Lime wedges for serving
  • Chili oil or fresh chilies, optional for added heat

Prepare these components to assemble a flavorsome and authentic Canh Bun that captures the essence of Vietnamese culinary tradition.

Required Tools and Equipment

To make Canh Bun Bun Rieu, you’ll need specific tools and equipment to ensure the cooking process is efficient and your soup turns out perfectly. Here’s what you should gather before you start cooking:

Cooking Vessels

  • Large Stockpot: Essential for making the broth, a large stockpot will hold all the ingredients comfortably and allow the flavors to meld together over time.
  • Medium Saucepan: Needed for sautéing the tomato paste and tamarind paste, contributing to the base flavor of your broth.

Preparation Tools

  • Fine Mesh Strainer: Use this to strain broth to ensure it’s clear and free of solid particles.
  • Mortar and Pestle: Ideal for crushing the crab mixture to the right consistency.
  • Sharp Chef’s Knife: Essential for finely chopping herbs and vegetables.
  • Ladle: For stirring the soup ingredients and eventually serving.
  • Skimmer: Helpful for removing any foam or excess oil that rises to the top of the broth during cooking.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Accuracy is key in the flavor balance of Canh Bun, so precise measurements are necessary.

Gather these tools and you’ll be set to start making your Canh Bun with confidence, ensuring every step of the recipe is handled efficiently and effectively.


Once you have your tools ready, the next step is creating the foundation of the Canh Bun – the crab mixture and preparing fresh vegetables and tofu. Let’s dive into the preparations to ensure each element complements the other perfectly.

Making the Crab Mixture

  1. Prepare the Crab: Start by draining any canned crab meat or if using fresh crab, clean and shell the crab, keeping the meat and discarding the shell.
  2. Create the Base: In a bowl, combine 500 grams of ground pork with the crab meat. This mixture gives the broth a hearty texture and rich flavor.
  3. Season Well: Add two tablespoons of fish sauce, one teaspoon of black pepper, and a finely minced shallot to the bowl. These will provide the needed depth and sharpness to the mixture.
  4. Mix Thoroughly: Use your hands or a fork to mix all the ingredients together until well combined. This ensures the flavors are evenly distributed.
  5. Form into Small Balls: Once mixed, shape the mixture into small balls, about the size of a golf ball. These will be dropped into the boiling broth later.
  1. Chop the Vegetables: Take two ripe tomatoes and chop them into wedges, slice one medium onion thinly, and finely slice 200 grams of morning glory or spinach.
  2. Prepare the Tofu: Cube 200 grams of firm tofu into bite-sized pieces. Pat the tofu dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture which helps in maintaining its texture while cooking.
  3. Clean Herbs: Wash a small bunch of cilantro and chop it roughly. This will be used for garnish before serving, adding a fresh, herbal touch to the Canh Bun.
  4. Set Aside: Keep all the chopped ingredients and tofu aside on a tray for easy access when you begin cooking. This step streamlines your cooking process, ensuring everything is ready when you need it.

By following these steps closely, you’ll have properly prepared the crab mixture and the vegetables and tofu, setting the stage for a truly delightful Canh Bun.

Cooking Instructions

Now that you have prepped your ingredients, let’s begin cooking the Canh Bun Bun Rieu to create a delectable and aromatic dish.

Cooking the Broth

  1. Begin by Heating the Stock: In a large pot, pour in 8 cups of chicken or vegetable stock. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the Tomatoes and Aromatics: Once boiling, add 2 cups of chopped tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, and 2 tablespoons of finely chopped shallots to the pot. This base will infuse your broth with the quintessential flavors of Vietnam.
  3. Season the Broth: Add 3 tablespoons of fish sauce and 1 teaspoon of tamarind paste to incorporate the typical sourness and umami depth of traditional Canh Bun Bun Rieu.
  4. Simmer to Develop Flavors: Reduce the heat to a medium-low and let your broth simmer gently for 20 minutes. This allows the flavors to meld beautifully.
  1. Form the Crab Balls: Take the pre-prepared crab mixture and shape it into small balls, about the size of a walnut. You should have around 12 to 15 balls.
  2. Cook the Crab Balls in Broth: Gently drop the crab balls into the simmering broth. This will allow them to cook thoroughly and absorb the broth’s flavors, enhancing their taste and texture.
  3. Let Simmer: Continue to simmer the broth, now with the crab balls, for an additional 10 to 12 minutes or until the crab balls are cooked through and float to the top of the broth.

By following these instructions, you are en route to crafting a wonderfully savory Canh Bun Bun Rieu that embodies the rich culinary heritage of Vietnam.

Assembling Canh Bun Bun Rieu

After preparing your components, the final step is assembling your Canh Bun Bun Rieu to ensure every bowl is bursting with flavor and texture.

Serving Suggestions

Once your broth is richly simmering and the crab balls are cooked through, it’s time to assemble the Canh Bun Bun Rieu for serving. Start by placing a generous portion of cooked rice vermicelli noodles into each bowl. Ladle the hot broth over the noodles, ensuring that it covers them thoroughly. Each serving should have a couple of crab balls.

Next, distribute the sliced tofu and tomato quarters evenly among the bowls. For a burst of freshness, add a handful of chopped herbs like cilantro and green onions on top. If you enjoy a bit of crunch, sprinkle some fried shallots or a few bean sprouts as well.

For those who favor a spicy kick, a small spoonful of chili paste on the side of the bowl allows everyone to adjust the heat to their taste. Serve the Canh Bun Bun Rieu hot, accompanied by lime wedges to squeeze over, which enhances the flavors with a touch of acidity. This comforting bowl captures the essence of Vietnamese culinary tradition, perfect for any meal of the day.


Now that you’ve got the steps down for making Canh Bun Bun Rieu don’t hesitate to give it a try. This dish isn’t just a meal; it’s a delightful journey through the flavors of Vietnam right from your kitchen. Whether you’re cooking for yourself or sharing with friends and family the rich broth, tender crab balls, and fresh herbs will surely impress. Remember to adjust the chili paste to suit your taste and enjoy the burst of freshness from the lime wedges. Happy cooking and enjoy your culinary creation!

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