This post was written back in 2015 and I lost it somewhere along the way due to forgetting to renew my hosting back in 2017. Luckily I’ve just found the content and successfully recover most of my blog posts back then. So I will slowly back-up all of the lost posts which were a lot. Yeah I wrote a lot of blogs back then; it’s time to bring all of the original back.

This soup is one of my most favorite soups in Vietnamese cuisine. I remember my mom would make this once in a while and she let us to throw in any kind of seafood we want. The soup base is made from fermented fish and 90% of ingredients are also from the sea. So if your nose does not have tolerance for smelly fish, this might not be for you. However, if you can overcome the smell and want to try new dish, this could be it. The origin of this soup was from Cambodia, and Vietnamese has changed its flavor and cooking style in order to fit with our culture and cuisine.

Jump to Recipe

The soup base in my recipe called for both style of fermented fish. They are called “Mam ca linh” and “Mam ca sac” in Vietnamese. If you go to Asian store and looking for these, they should be in the cooling section of the market. I tried to find these ingredients in English and these are what I found: “Mam ca linh” is “Fermented Danio dangila” and “Mam ca sac” is “Fermented Gourami/Gouramy”. To be sure that you buy the right ingredients, just Google the name of these two, print out the pictures and take them to Asian market. I believe those attendances there will help you find easily.

From left to right: lemongrass, rhizome, Thai chilies

Other ingredients that include in the soup are pork belly (or roasted pork belly), eggplants, shrimp, squid (or octopus), fish fillet (swai, tilapia, cat fish), rhizome (fresh or frozen), and lots of lemongrass. Complimented ingredients include: chive, beansprout, mint, banana flower, knotgrass (kind of herb), and lime.

Ok, let’s start cooking

Bun Mam – Vietnamese Fermented Fish Vermicelli Soup

This soup is quite complicated if at first but if you take time and read the instructions carefully, you will have such an exquisite pot of soup at the end of the process. So don't give up!
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 40 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 10 mins
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Vietnamese
Servings 4 people


  • Stockpot


Soup Base

  • 4 qt water
  • 1 lb mam ca linh
  • 1 lb mam ca sac
  • 2 stalks lemongrass smashed
  • 3 stalks rhizome smashed
  • Thai chilies as desired

Others Ingredients

  • 1 lb pork belly
  • 20 oz lemongrass minced
  • 3 medium eggplants cut into large pieces
  • vermicelli, large size as desired
  • octopus, fish fillet, shrimp cooked, as desired
  • beansprout, chives, mint, banana flower as desired


  • On medium heat, Mam Ca Linh and Mam Ca Sac with 1qt of water for 30 minutes until all the meat fallen of the bones. If you use cream style of these fermented fish, you should do this step too to make sure the soup is clean of lumps. After that, strain the liquid to a fine mesh. Combine this with 3qt of water in a big pot, lemongrass, rhizome (mashed) and Thai chilies. Bring the mixture to boil then simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Cut pork belly in to small pieces, saute them in a medium pan with 10oz of lemongrass until the meat is half-cooked. Add pork in soup pot and simmer for another 30 minutes.
  • Saute eggplants with another 10oz of chopped lemongrass for 5 minutes. Add these in the pot and cook for 15 minute on medium heat. Lower the heat to the lowest level while preparing seafood ingredients.
  • In a medium pot, boil vermicelli and seafood then set aside. Serve soup with veggie on the side
Keyword Bun mam, Soup, Vietnamese Food