This is pretty much everything the pho recipe calls for, and a little more.
Bun Rieu is typically a tangy broth with flat rice noodles, stewed tomatoes and crab meat and other seafood.
2 small squid, cleaned and cut into rings
6-8 shrimp, for the shrimp sauce
2 crabs, de-shelled (I left the crab claws whole, because I like to crack them when I eat them)
2-3 tomatoes, cut into quarters
2 onions, halved
2-4 pieces of ginger, about an inch or more long
A pot full of water
1 stick cinnamon
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds
4-5 star anise
2-3 pods of cardamom
6-8 whole cloves
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon fish sauce
4-5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 one inch stick of ginger, cut into thin slices
1-2 whole dried red chillies, soaked in warm water
A pinch of sugar
(another) 1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds
A handful or two of rice noodles
Bokchoy or spring onions
2 limes, cut into wedges
Cilantro, to serve
Mint leaves, to serve
1 red chilli, cut diagonally and de-seeded, to serve
Bean sprouts, to serve
Sriracha hot sauce, to serve
1. Roast the onions and the ginger by sticking skewers through them or using a pair of tongs, and working them on an open flame. Alternately, char them in your oven by setting it to the highest temperature, lightly coating the onions/ginger with some oil and roasting for about 10 minutes.
2. Fill a pot with about 5-6 cups of water. Add the onions, the ginger and the dry spices (coriander seeds, fennel seeds, star anise, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon). Bring the water to a boil, on low heat. This can take upto an hour.
3. Strain the water and keep the spices for re-use later, or toss them. Your call, entirely.
4. In the meanwhile, prep the noodles. Bring some water to a boil. Take it off the heat and soak the rice noodles in it for about thirty minutes or until the noodles easily wrap around your fingers.
5. Drain the hot water and rinse the noodles in cold water. Allow the water to drain and set the noodles aside.
6. Soak the dried red chillies in warm water for about 30 minutes. De-seed the chillies.
7. Heat some oil and saute some juliennes of ginger and some garlic, until lightly brown. Add the shrimp, the red chillies, the fennel seads and the fish sauce and cook for a couple of minutes.
8. Grind the above mixture to a smooth paste.
9. Heat some more oil in a large vessel. Add the shrimp paste and tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes begin to soften, but are not mushy.
10. Now, add the sea food to it and cook for a few minutes. Make sure you don’t cook it too long, else the squid will get over-cooked and rubbery.
11. Toss in the green, whole spring onions,or bokchoy and cook for a minute.
12. Now add the broth and the noodles and bring to a boil.
13. Adjust spice and salt, as required.
14. Serve with garnishes.
(I added a tad bit red food colouring because I wanted pretty pictures, but you don’t really need to do that. I was just being stupid.)