Vietnamese Escargot Noodle Soup (Bun Oc)
Calling this recipe Vietnamese Snail Noodle Soup isn't too appetizing. Hopefully, Vietnamese Escargot Noodle Soup is a little better.
Bun Oc originated in Hanoi, Vietnam. It is a vermicelli rice noodle soup with a tomato-based broth made from slowly simmering chicken and/or pork bones. It is topped with infamous escargot and other proteins such as fried tofu, prawns, and fish cakes, and served with a plentiful platter of fragrant Vietnamese herbs (rau thom) and lime wedges. A side dish of fermented shrimp paste and chili oil also accompany the soup for those who want a bit of customization.
Bun Oc is similar to Bun Rieu, but it's not as intense in flavor. It also has fewer ingredients and takes less time to cook up.
You can find live escargots in most local Asian supermarket that has a wide selection of seafood. Here I simply used the frozen ones available in the freezer aisle. The frozen ones are already prepared so it's much more convenient. Plus, I'm not a fan of slimy slithering snails in my kitchen. There are wide varieties of edible land and sea snails you can choose from. In the below recipe I used Oc Buu.
If you're like me and wonder if you can go into your garden and pick up the pesky critters and put them in the pot. No, I strongly advise against that.
Happy eating snails!
Vietnamese Escargot Noodle Soup Recipe (Bun Oc)
3 quarts chicken or pork stock
3 stalks lemon grass (use tender white bottom parts only, bruise with back of knife)
1/3 cup dried shrimp (soak in warm water for 5 minutes, drain, then rinse)
2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon fermented shrimp paste
1 tablespoon chicken or pork stock powder
4 large tomatoes (chopped or cut into large wedges)
2 packages fine vermicelli rice noodles (cook per package instructions)
2 packages frozen Oc Buu (wash and drain well)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5 garlic cloves (mince)
1 tablespoon minced lemon grass
2 teaspoons white vinegar
3 teaspoons fish sauce
3 teaspoons granulated whitesugar
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
Optional Protein Toppings
Fried fish cakes
Green onions (slice thinly)
Vietnamese Perilla (Tia To)
Vietnamese Balm (Kinh Gioi)
Limes (cut into wedges)
Fermented shrimp paste
Vietnamese sate chili sauce
In a stock pot, heat up chicken or pork stock. Once it comes to a boil, add lemon grass and dried shrimp. Reduce heat to a low simmer and season with sugar, salt, shrimp paste and chicken/pork stock powder. Continue to cook on low for 30-40 minutes. Use a mesh strainer to remove lemon grass and dried shrimp. Add tomatoes and continue to cook for 5 minutes then turn off heat.
In a frying pan, heat up vegetable oil. Add garlic and lemon grass. Fry until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the escargot and continue to pan-fry until garlic and lemon grass are all incorporated. Season with vinegar, fish sauce, sugar and turmeric powder. Pan-fry for another minute and transfer to a bowl.
To serve, add vermicelli noodles to bowl. Ladle on hot broth. Add escargot and other proteins. Sprinkle on green onions. Serve with a platter of fresh Vietnamese herbs, lemon wedges, and a side dish of fermented shrimp paste and Vietnamese sate chili sauce.