Bún bò Huế – Spicy beef soup of Huế

Phở is very popular around the world but Búb bò Huế is a more excited dish that equally popular in Vietnam. Bbh is the finest art of using the ingredients represent the Vietnamese cooking and Southern Asia cooking. From the fragrance of lemongrass, the combination of garlic and chillies to the unami flavor of fish sauce and shrimp paste. Bbh originated from Huế, the old capital of Vietnam where the cuisine considered the finest which used to be served to the loyalty. Besides the original rreciep form Hue, each family cook Bbh a little bit differently. Being in the US, I am cooking Bbh the way my Mom cook with whichever ingredients available. For example, blood cake is hard to find over here and my husband wouldn’t eat it so I don’t add it into this version of Bbh. But the basic is always beef and pork bones with lemon grass for the broth and spicy lemongrass with garlic and chilies topping.


1/ The broth:

– 1 pounds of beef bones/ribs/oxtail if you have any.

– 1 pounds of beef shank.

-1 pounds of pork bones or pork hocks (optional, you can use all beef bones if you cannot find pork bones)

– 5 to 10 stalks of lemongrass.

– half of an pineapple (it adds a wonderful sweet flavor to the soup and help tenderize the bones and meat, reducing cooking time.)

– 1 large white or yellow onion.

-3 tablespoons salt

-2 tablespoons sugar.

-3 table spoons of fishsauce. I love the Red boat fish sauce the most. If is the highest fish sauce which has been use by many famous chefs and restaurant.

-2 tablespoon of shrimpaste. Lee Kum Kee is a very good one which is clean and safe. If you don’t don’t like the strong smell of it, you don’t have to use it. Replace it with salt or fish sauce of your choice. My husband doesn’t eat shrimp paste so I add it in to my bowl after I served.

First, we need to clean the bones. This step is always needed when making bone stock. Boiling some water which is enough to cover the bones. When the water is boiled, add the bones, submerge it under boiling water and cook for about 10 minutes until all of the blood fat and scums floating to the top. Discard the dirty water and wash the bones under the running water. In the mean time, also boiling some water in the stock pot and add the clean bones in with the onion, pineapple and lemongrass. Use the handle is your knife and gently smash the white part of the lemongrass to help it release the aroma and flavor to the stock. Seasoning the broth with one teaspoon of salt and cook for at least 2 hours until the ribs and shank meat is tender and fall of the boned easily. Keep skimming the fat and scums to have a clear broth. You will be so happy with the wonderful aroma from lemongrass and pineapple filling the air.

While the broth is cooking, let’s make some pork meatballs.

2/ Meatballs:

– 1/2 ground pork. More if you like.

-1 shallot and 1/4 of a white onion. Finely chopped.

-1 teaspoon fish sauce + teaspoon ground pepper + 1 teaspoon sugar + 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Combine them and keep the mixture in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

3/ Spicy topping:

-3 stacks of lemongrass, using white parts only. Finely chopped them in a food processor or by hand.

-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped. Two fresh Thai pepper or dried pepper. Carefully adjust it to the spiciness that you refer.

-Annatto seeds. Heat up some oil in medium heat until it is hot and add in an auto seeds, turn the heat to low, cook the seeds until it release its smell and turn to darker color. Don’t cook it for too long because it will be bitter. Turn off the heat just when you see the oil color turn to red.

Discard the seeds and add garlic, lemongrass, and chilies into the hot oil and fry them until they release their aroma and the color turn to light brown. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Use a deep spoon, mold the meatball mixture into he spoon and add them into the boiling broth. Cook the meatballs for about 10 minutes and add the spicy topping into the boiling broth. Let it cook for another five minutes and adjust the final seasoning. The broth should has a balanced, savory flavor of bones, fish sauce and the sweetness from pineapple, onion, and some sugar.

The noodle we use for this dish is the dried round which noolde, like this kind.

In Vietnam, Bbh is served with mints, Thai basil, Vietnamese cilantro, Vietnamese shiso leaves, bean sprout and thin slide banana flowers. At home, I usually served Bbh with whichever herbs I have in the garden.

Assembling the bowl of hot noodle and feel free to slurp.

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