DIY Bun Bo Hue

Bun Bo Hue, a Vietnamese specialty hailing from the central region of the country, is a mouth-watering noodle soup.  For food lovers all over the world, this soup is hearty, delicious, and robust with flavors and aromatic spices.  Even if you’re a fan of this dish, trying to Bun Bo Hue from scratch may seem daunting.  It seems like a whole lot of ingredients and a very difficult process.

However, home-made Bun Bo Hue is incredibly rich and flavorful.  It also makes you appreciate the food culture, intricacy, and dedication the Vietnamese have for their food.  I tried making this dish at home over the past weekend and the results were outstanding.  I was impressed that it tasted even better than some of the restaurant editions of this famous noodle soup.

Making Bun Bo Hue

To prepare a sensational bowl of Bun Bo Hue, you will need:

  • 2-3 pounds of beef bones or pork bones
  • 1 pound of beef shank
  • 1 pound of pork hocks or pig’s feet
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, bruised
  • 3-4 shallots, peeled
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2-3 tablespoons of shrimp paste
  • 1 tablespoon of annatto seeds
  • 2-3 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • Salt and sugar to taste
Meats and Protein:
  • 1 pound of beef brisket or beef tendon (optional)
  • 1 pound of pork blood cubes (optional)
Noodles and Garnishes:
  • Fresh round rice noodles (bun)
  • Bean sprouts
  • Fresh herbs (cilantro, Thai basil if desired)
  • Lime wedges
  • Sliced onions
  • Sliced chili peppers
  • Shrimp paste or fermented shrimp sauce (mam ruoc)
Preparing the Bun Bo Hue Broth:
  1. Start by cleaning the beef and pork bones thoroughly under cold running water.  Place them in a large stockpot and cover with water.
  2. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Skim off any impurities that rise to the surface to ensure a clear broth.
  3. Add the lemongrass, shallots, and garlic to the pot.  Allow them to infuse their flavors into the broth as it simmers.
  4. In a separate pan, dry-toast the annatto seeds until they release their vibrant red color.  Grind the seeds into a powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
  5. Add the shrimp paste and ground annatto seeds to the broth, along with fish sauce, salt, and sugar.  Adjust the seasoning according to your taste preferences.
  6. Continue simmering the broth for at least 3-4 hours to extract all the flavors.  The longer it simmers, the richer and more aromatic the broth will become.
Preparing the Meats and Protein:
  1. If using beef brisket or tendon, slice the meat into thin strips. Blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes until they are cooked but still tender.  Set aside.
  2. Cook the pork hocks or pig’s feet in a separate pot of boiling water until tender. Remove them from the pot and slice the meat into bite-sized pieces.  Set aside.
  3. If you choose to include pork blood cubes, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes until they firm up. Rinse them in cold water to remove excess blood and slice them into small cubes.  Set aside.
Preparing the Noodles and Garnishes:
  1. Cook the fresh round rice noodles (bun) according to the package instructions.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Prepare the garnishes by washing and plucking the fresh herbs.  Slice the onions and chili peppers, and set aside some lime wedges and bean sprouts.
  3. Add the boiled broth over top of the noodles and serve.
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