The crab paste mix is soft and pillowy but stays together. If you like it more loose, add an additional egg or decrease the ground pork in half. Annatto seed oil (without the scallions) can be made in larger quantities and stored in fridge for months. If using prepared annatto seed oil, simply heat and stir in scallions.
5 qt stock pork or chicken
1 5.6 oz can of minced crab in spices (many brands available,should say “gia vi nau bun rieu” on it)
6 oz of of crab meat, either fresh or canned/frozen drained
1/4 lb of ground pork
1 tsp of ground black pepper
1 tsp of of fine shrimp paste
2 tablespoon of minced dried shrimp
4 medium to large ripe tomatoes (quartered) or canned whole tomatoes
10 medium sized fried firm tofu (whole or halved)
Annato Scallion Oil
4 tbs of annato seeds
4 tbs of cannola or vegetable oil
1 bunch of scallions, chopped 1 inch
lettuce finely chopped
Vietnamese herbs: perilla, mint, lemon balm, split ong choy stems
Soak dried shrimps until softened with hot water for about 20 min, and then mince finely using food processor or minifood chopper and set aside. This can be done day in advance and refrigerated.
Cook the vermicelli noodles and set aside.
In small sauce pan, heat canola or vegetable oil with the annato seeds over medium heat. When the seeds release their red color, remove the seeds with strainer. (You can prepare this oil in larger quantities in advance and keeps months refrigerated). Add the scallions and turn off heat and set aside.
At the same time add pork or chicken stock into large pot and bring to boil.
In the meantime, make the crab mixture. Combine ground pork, crab, can of prawn/crabmeat in spices, shallots, fine shrimp paste, dried shrimps, pepper, and egg into a food processor. Pulse for about 30 seconds until it becomes a fine paste. When the stock comes to a boil, turn down to simmer and slowly add this crab mixture into stock by the ladle full. The crab mixture will sink but as it cooks will float. Now add the tomatoes and tofu and cook until tomatoes are tender. Finally, season stock with additional fish sauce (or shrimp paste) as needed. Garnish with annato scallion oil.
Add vermicelli noodles to bowl and ladle on the bun rieu. Serve with vegetable and herbs and enjoy!