Woohoo, 15 minute bun oc FTW! Oc buou = river snail (apparently? Well I can tell you it’s not one of those weird snails with antenna on their heads.
So I got the snails, frozen, at the Asian market. The pleasant surprise was that while I didn’t get the delicious water from steaming the snails (it was precooked), the snails stilll carried that distinctive river-creature smell. It’s hard to describe, but if you’ve ever had real bun rieu with real river/rice-field crabs. you’ll know what I mean. This version is quick because I didn’t use pork bones, just ground pork. Pork bones give the broth a yummy, thick taste but can be too heavy-handed sometimes. I didn’t feel like heavy tonight so ground pork was the way to go. Even if it was rather simple, my version of bun oc was delicious!! You can’t really go wrong with tomatoes, onions, and meat. That’s why pasta never fails if you add tomato sauce ^^
Another thing to add is that the portions of ingredients are really liberal. For a small soup pot (about 2 quarts I think) I used 3 tomatoes, a handful of ground pork, and one red onion. But you can increase or decrease the amount of any of these ingredients to your taste, with very little consequences. If you still want a savory, taste broth, add as much as possible. If you don’t like meat that much, just add more tomatoes and onions. And vice versa.
Bun oc (bun = rice noodle, oc = snail)
Cooking time: 15 minutes!
Red/Yellow/Blue (no, kidding, if it’s blue you should toss it!) Onion
Snails (as much as you want! The frozen version doesn’t have any snail water anyway, so it contributes little to the broth. It’s more about the smell and the texture and it being…snail and everything).
Tofu (fried tofu preferable, puffy tofu sold at asian markets is the best for this, since the skin is thin and the airy tofu soaks up the broth, making it very soupy and flavorful)
Saute the onion (sliced) with half a spoon of neutral-tasting oil, then add meat. Saute until both brown a little bit and smell like heaven. Add water, and while waiting for the water to boil, add the tomatoes (thick slices). Add snails & puffy tofu last (if you have raw snails you shouldn’t cook it too long either, it gets real tough), wait until the water boils and let it boils for 5 mins. Cook the bun. Put bun into a big bowl and pour broth + stuff over it, flavor it with a tablespoon of fish sauce or more to taste. If you have herbs (culantro, cilantro, Thai basil, what have you), put them in, too! Om nom nom…