- Articles by Expatriate Employees - World Dishes


A Dish from Vietnam:

"Bún riêu" noodle soup

This time in "Cuisine of the World," we show you how to make "Bún riêu," a dish from Vietnamese cuisine. We visited "Saigon Restaurant" in Ikebukuro with Yuichi Hosokai and his wife, who were posted to Vietnam for Marubeni. (* "Bún riêu" is not normally on the restaurant's menu).

Hanoi, where Mr. Hosokai was posted for Marubeni for 4 and a half years, is a beautiful city with a streetscape of redbrick buildings. The lifestyle there, which places importance on seasonal traditions such as the Bon Festival and New Year, and customs of paying respect to superiors and elders and of treating children with great care are very similar to those in Japan, so Mr. Hosokai found that it was somewhere which he found felt quite familiar.

For example, during Tet (the lunar New Year), "People go around visiting the homes of colleagues and friends to make their New Year greetings. Children are given New Year's gift money, and people eat traditional New Year's dishes whose ingredients such as chicken and white radish are supposed to bring luck, or pounded rice cakes," says Mrs. Hosokai.

The pounded rice cakes are used for a dish called "Bánh Chưng," which is made by putting meat and beans in with glutinous rice, wrapping this up in large banana leaves and steaming them. It is made as a preserved food for New Year, and each household has its own recipe and flavor. Mr. Hosokai explains Tet, saying "It is said that a household's luck for the year is determined by who the first visitor is who calls on them, and people are delighted if their first visitor is a young man who is dedicated to his work."

"Meals in Vietnam are mainly composed of vegetables and rice, so the flavor is quite light and it was easy to get used to," says Mr. Hosokai. "We used to eat a lot of noodle dishes, such as "Phở " and "Bún." The best place to eat them is the street food stands jumbled together in the marketplaces," recalls Mr. Hosokai. The family used to spend their days off going for walks around the city, stopping off at the various street food stands.

In Japan, people tend to have the impression that Vietnam is in the tropics, but even though it is short, Hanoi does have a winter and goes through all four seasons each year. "The environment and food culture is very similar to Japan, which is of course appealing, but the warmth and cheerfulness of so many people in Vietnam is also very appealing," says Mr. Hosokai.

How to Make "Bún riêu": Serves 4

Water 2 large noodle bowls full
Rice vermicelli250g
Crab meat300g
Dried shrimp50g
Shrimp paste2 tablespoons
Sugar, salt, pepper, Nuoc mam(mixed fish sauce), and "Aji no Moto" or similar monosodium glutamate (MSG) seasoningas required
Chili sauce, tomato paste, welsh onions, and chicken stock soup powderas required
Water spinach 1 bunch
Bean sprouts 1 packet
Herbs 50g
Chili pepper 1
Salt and pepper as required
How to Make
  • 1

    Step 1: Cut up the dried shrimp and crab meat into small pieces, add the pork and eggs and mix together. Season with sugar, salt, pepper and Nước mắm.

    Chef's Tip:

    This mixture will be made into meatballs, so mix it together well as you add in the eggs, so that it becomes sticky.

  • 2

    Step 2: Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry up the welsh onions (which you have cut up) until they brown and then add the tomatoes (which have been cut into quite large pieces), the tomato paste, chili sauce, the "Aji no Moto" seasoning, water and chicken stock soup powder and bring to the boil.

    Chef's Tip:

    If you make the soup using beef bones, you will achieve something even closer to the authentic flavor.

  • 3

    Step 3: Mix together well the 2 tablespoons of shrimp paste and 1/2 a squeezed lemon, and add this to the soup.

  • 4

    Step 4: Keeping the flame high, make the meat mixed in Step 1 into a meatball shape using a spoon and drop it into the soup, and leave it to stew for around 5 minutes.

    Chef's Tip:

    When you stew the soup and meatballs, scum will rise to the surface, and you should remove this carefully, taking care not to stir the soup too much.

  • 3

    Step 5: Boil up the rice vermicelli in advance, and then dip each portion one by one briefly into hot water before serving it up. Place the rice vermicelli noodles into a bowl, and add the soup to it, and the "Bún riêu" is ready to eat.

    Chef's Tip:

    If you add some vegetables as topping just before you eat it, you can enjoy added texture and flavor.

Cooperating Restaurant

Saigon Restaurant
Torikoma Daiichi Bldg. 3F, Higashi-Ikebukuro 1-7-10, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
By public transport
3 min. walk from Ikebukuro Station, on the Tokyo Metro and JR Lines.
Opening hours
11:30 to 14:30, 17:00 to 22:30 (Mondays to Fridays)
11:30 to 22:30 (Saturdays, Sundays & Public Holidays)

From: “Shareholder’s guide Marubeni,” Vol.105 (published in November 2008)

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