Sunday, January 6, 2013

Bun Rieu Tom with Fried Tofu

Growing up, my mom always had a big pot of jook (rice congee or porridge), bun (round rice noodles) or chicken pho (flat rice noodles) simmering on the stove on the weekends.  The components were always made ready to be on hand for the perfect steaming bowl of breakfast and/or even lunch.  She'd wake up before everyone else to start the broth. 
I always buy whole shell on shrimp so that I can save the heads and shells for shrimp stock.  Once I saved up enough for a nice shrimp stock, I decided to make Bun Rieu Tom with Fried Tofu.
There are many variations of Bun Rieu.  The traditional Bun Rieu Cua is made with blue crab.  Bun Rieu Tom is made with shrimp.  Bun Rieu Cua Tom Oc is made with crab, shrimp and snail meat.
The fried tofu soaks up the savory, tangy flavors of the broth.  The delicious egg mixture has a light, pillowy texture.

Broth for Bun Rieu Tom
5 cups shrimp heads & shells, packed
1 lb pork bones
10 cups water
1 tsp oil
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp fermented shrimp paste
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 onion, halved

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread the onion halves, pork bones, shrimp heads and shells on a baking sheet.  Roast in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Transfer the pork bones, shrimp heads and shells in a stock pot.  Cover with water and bring to a boil.  Place lid on pot, slightly propped up.  Reduce heat to a low simmer.  Simmer for 3-4 hours or overnight.  Remove pork bones, shrimp heads and shells.  Skim broth.
Heat a small frying pan with oil.  Sautee chopped tomatoes for 30 seconds.
Add onion, sauteed tomatoes, tomato paste, shrimp paste and fish sauce to broth.  Stir well and simmer for at 2 hours.  Makes about 9-10 cups broth.
Bun Rieu Tom (per serving)
2 cups broth for Bun Rieu Tom
1 tbsp crab paste
1 egg, slightly beaten
6 pieces fried tofu
4 shrimp
1 cup cooked bun noodles
wedge of lime
2-3 sprigs mint (garnish)
1/4 cup finely shredded cabbage (garnish)

Bring broth to a simmer.  Add fried tofu and shrimp.  Mix crab paste and egg together.  Slowly drizzle the egg mixture into the simmering broth.  Ladle on top of bun noodles in serving bowl.  Add juice from a wedge of lime.  Add more shrimp paste and/or fish sauce to taste.  Mix in mint leaves and shredded cabbage.

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