A taste of Home: Vietnamese Snail Noodle Soup (Bún Ốc)

You visit Hanoi and you will definitely see this dish being sold literally everywhere, it’s a big hit with the locals and maybe the tourists as well !? The key is to get over the “snail” part which sounds kinda scary but actually tastes quite nice if done properly. The snails have to be fresh, not gooey, slightly chewy (Vietnamese people love chewy food 😀 ) but it must never be so firm as giving the person eating it the feeling of chewing on a bullet!!! But the tough part is the soup which the dish totally depends on for it’s success or failure. The perfect soup should not be too oily, too cloudy, too sour or too sweet/salty. It’s all about a delicate balance. The subtle sweetness and flavour of the broth comes from the snail borth in combination with the juice of the pork ribs which are slow cooked for hours prior to making the soup. Now let’s fine out how to make this traditional Vietnamese favourite… MY WAY!

*Ingredients: (everything must be cooked to taste, I don’t have the exact amount)

a) Main ingredients: serves 4-5

– 2 medium shallots, chopped
– 4-6 fresh tomatoes, seeds removed, quartered
– 300 gr canned tomatoes
– 400 gr fresh snails (w/o shells)
– fish sauce to taste
– salt to taste
– 100 ml of special rice wine vinegar (in Vietnamese we call it “giấm bỗng”)*
– vegetable oil
– 400-500 gr rice noodles
– 10 cups of pork broth (recipe follows)

b) Broth:

– salt to taste
– pork ribs 400 gr
– pork belly 500 gr
– 1 medium shallot
– 1 small ginger

c) Chili oil:

– salt to taste
– 1 tsp sugar
– 200 ml neutral oil
– spring onion: as much as you want!
– chili powder 3 tbsp
– 1 clove of garlic, chopped
– 4-5 fresh red chilies

d) Garnishes:

– morning glory (Rau Muong, aka Chinese Spinach ‘ong choy’), stems only, thinly sliced or curled
– bean sprouts
– Vietnamese coriander (rau ram)
– Perilla leaves
– Fried tofu
– shrimp paste (if you will, it has a very strong smell and pungent taste)
– fresh Chilies
– lemon/lime

*This type of vinegar is difficult to find if you’re not in Vietnam, it’s not the common rice wine vinegar you find, it has a very nice and subtle acidic flavour and quite unfortunately, it is extremely crucial for a successful “Bún ốc”. I don’t even know how it is actually made 😀 Sorry!!!


1. Cook the rice noodles according to instructions on the package. Shock in cold water afterwards.

2. Put pork ribs and pork belly, water, ginger and shallots into a pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium low. Simmer for 3 hours, skim any scum as it appears. Reserve the pork belly, we’ll use them later.

3. Add vegetable oil to turn on on medium heat. Sautee  shallots until translucent about 2 mins. Throw in fresh tomatoes and season liberally with salt and sauteed until soft about 5 mins.

4. Pour in canned tomatoes including the juices and pork broth and bring to a boil.  Turn down to low heat and simmer until ground pork is cooked. Season with fish sauce, salt and sugar (shrimp paste if you will)

5. Stir fry the snails in some shallots, season with salt.

6. Pour the 200 ml of oil in a sauce pan, turn on medium heat. Add the white parts of the spring onion and stir fry until fragrant. Add chopped garlic. Add chili powder and fresh chili. Finish off with the rest of the spring onions. Season with salt and a bit of sugar. Transfer to a jar to use later.

7. Blanch the rice noodles in hot water to heat the noodles up.

8. Slice the pork belly into thin slices.

9. Plate the dish up and serve with fresh herbs!!!

Leave comments if you love it 😀

Le Degustationator.


One thought on “A taste of Home: Vietnamese Snail Noodle Soup (Bún Ốc)

  1. Pingback: Street of Hanoi: warm and crunchy eel vermicelli (Miến Lươn Trộn) | Le Degustationator

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