Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm
(Fermented Shrimp Paste with Fried Tofu and Rice Vermicelli)
When locals think of bún đậu mắm tôm, they think of a familiar rustic image of markets or street sellers in Hà Nội, where they serve a portion of rice vermicelli, deep-fried tofu, and a dip with fermented shrimp paste sauce. As time goes by, this dish has gained the hearts of many people and has become a symbol of northern Việtnamese cuisine.
The dish is known for its powerfully pungent yet umami fermented shrimp paste (mắm tôm), which is served with “bún” (vermicelli noodles), “đậu” (fried tofu), and other flavourful and exotic condiments such as boiled sliced pork belly and guts, fried intestines, “chả cốm” (fried patties with young green rice), and fish mint and Việtnamese balm, sliced cucumbers.
The shrimp paste is combined with sugar, lime or kumquat juice, minced garlic, and a tablespoon of hot oil, then stirred until purple and frothing. Black pepper and minced chilli are sprinkled on top.
This meal is best served to a large group of friends or family members after the tofu has been freshly golden fried, leaving a crispy crust on the outside while the interior remains soft, moist, and hot. Food brings people together, and sharing a meal is one of the most simple yet lovely ways to express your care in Việt Nam.