Snails with rice noodle soup

Snails with rice noodle soup

Bún ốc

Real Vietnamese Cooking
Michael Fountoulakis

Featuring an unusual combination of ingredients, this specialty dish is often served around Hanoi’s West Lake, at lakeside tables on weekend afternoons. We particularly like the way the cooked bananas assume a potato-like, starchy consistency, but retain their sweetness.


Quantity Ingredient
2kg pig's trotters, sawn into five pieces each by your butcher
1/3 teaspoon salt
8 red asian shallots
1/2 lemon, juiced
4 green bananas
vegetable oil, for pan-frying
400g firm tofu, cut into 2 cm cubes
3cm fresh turmeric, peeled
5 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
400g dried rice vermicelli
1 tablespoon Tamarind water
18 snails, shucked
6 betel leaves, thinly sliced
perilla, thinly sliced


  1. Wash the trotters under cold running water, then place in a large saucepan and cover with 2 litres cold water. Add the salt and slowly bring to a simmer, skimming off any froth that rises to the surface.
  2. Chargrill the whole unpeeled shallots on a barbecue or gas burner over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until they are fragrant and the skin is lightly charred. Leave to cool slightly. Using your fingers, flake off the outer thin layer of skin.
  3. Add the shallots to the stock and simmer for 31/2 hours - be careful not to let the stock boil, or it will become very cloudy. Strain the broth through a sieve and discard the trotters and shallots.
  4. Meanwhile, add the lemon juice to a bowl of cold water. Using a sharp knife, peel off the outer layer of skin from each banana, leaving on a thin layer of the skin for texture. Cut the banana into batons and place in the lemon water. This will remove some of the sticky liquid from the bananas.
  5. Heat about 2 cm of oil in a wok over medium–high heat. Add the tofu and fry for 1–2 minutes on each side, until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
  6. Pound the turmeric to a fine paste using a mortar and pestle. Drain the banana and marinate for 15 minutes with the turmeric and 2 tablespoons of oil.
  7. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a saucepan and sauté the banana over medium heat. When coloured, add all the pork stock, along with the tomatoes, sugar and 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, soak the vermicelli in boiling water for 4–5 minutes. Gently stir to separate the noodles, then drain and refresh under cold water. Use kitchen scissors to cut the vermicelli into easy-to-manage lengths, then divide among six deep bowls.
  9. Add the tamarind water to the banana mixture and cook for a further 2 minutes. Lastly, add the remaining fish sauce, the snails, tofu, betel leaves and perilla.
  10. Gently stir together, then ladle the soup over the noodles.
Real Vietnamese Cooking
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