Bún ốc (snail vermicelli soup)

If you are on a family travel in Vietnam, it may not be something that everyone in the family wants to try but its popularity in Vietnam, especially the north, is well-established.French tourists are certain to be delighted to find this soup on the menu. Vietnam is a great experience and you should try as many of its popular dishes as possible.

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Bún ốc has a tomato base which uses chicken or pork bones, or both, simmering slowly. Those bones are to make the stock and they are then discarded. The escargots are the final addition to the dish which is likely to include such things as fish cakes, shrimps and tofu. Add a range of herbs and lime for its tangy flavour and the dish is superb. Live escargots are commonly found in Vietnamese markets and locals will use them fresh to make this soup. Escargots can be frozen but it is rare that frozen snails will be used in Vietnam because food is inevitably made with fresh ingredients.

You will need lemon grass, sugar, salt, tomatoes and a good stock to make the broth. The chicken or pork is slowly cooked with these ingredients, except the tomato,for up to 45 minutes. The roughly chopped tomatoes are added towards the end of the process and they will break up in no time. The escargots are cooked separately with garlic, more lemon grass, vinegar, sugar, turmeric, fish sauce and vegetable oil. This mixture is pan-fried and then removed and put into a bowl. The vermicelli is added to this mixture which is then ready to serve as a broth.

Bún ốc is great with fresh vegetable sides dishes; green onions, perilla leaf, lettuce with small amounts of mint, limes, shrimp paste and chillies available for further flavour. There are regional differences in the flavours that are used.

Bún ốc is just one of a variety of soups in Vietnamese cuisine most of which are made in a similar way. None of the soups need to be made quickly and indeed they are not. When a soup is sold in the street, it is an ongoing process with cooks are working throughout the day to satisfy customer demand.