Bún bò Huế


Bún bò Huế is a classic Vietnamese soup, made with spicy chilli oil and a deeply savoury pork and beef broth. Leyla Kazim came across this wonderfully satisfying soup during her Vietnamese travels and was provided this recipe by Salvation in Noodles owner Colin Tu.

First published in 2016

Bún bò Huế was one of my favourite soups during my travels in Vietnam, originating in centrally-located Huế, the seat of Nguyen Dynasty emperors and the nation’s capital from 1802–1945. The main difference between this soup and pho is that the latter is made with a chicken and beef stock while the former is made of pork and beef stock.

Colin Tu is the owner of Salvation in Noodles. He kindly gave me his recipe for Bún bò Huế. These are his words:

'Bún bò Huế is a Vietnamese soup containing rice vermicelli, beef and pork. Huế is a city in central Vietnam where this dish originates and is associated with the cooking style of the former royal court.

Vietnamese noodle soups take a whole day of cooking so most families make a huge pot of Bún bò Huế and invite friends and family over to enjoy the dish together. The Huế chilli oil used to flavour the broth can be kept refrigerated for months, ready to satisfy a Bún bò Huế craving at any time. It can also be used in stir-fries with vegetables or meat to create a simple, quick, satisfying dish.

Just a few notes on where to locate some of the recipe’s ingredients, as most items can be found at your local Asian supermarket. If you are lucky to live in London, you can grab them from Longdan (Shoreditch), Seewoo (Chinatown) or London Starnight (Hackney).

The beef shin is a tough cut because of the tendon and sinew, but that’s the reason why it’s so tasty and perfect for a dish like Bún bò Huế. The meat of the beef shin should be soft but the tendons are chewy, so I suggest cooking it for roughly 3 hours. You can find this cut at your local butchers or at Loon Fung in Chinatown, who sell this particular cut at their meat counter. Beef bone marrow and pork ribs can be found at any local butcher or some national supermarkets.

The vermicelli rice noodles used for Bún bò Huế are much thicker than the vermicelli noodles used in a noodle salad dish. They should be cooked until al dente, firm and just slightly chewy.'

With thanks to Kaleem Hayder for the image of this recipe.




Bún bò Huế

Huế chilli oil



In a large 21l stock pot, add the pork and beef bones and cover fully with water. Bring the water to the boil and part cook the bones, this will clean the bones and help keep the stock clear
Once boiled, empty the bones into the sink and discard the water. Rinse the bones under cold water until clean and place in a clean stock pot
Cover the bones with water once more and bring to boil. Use a fine mesh strainer to remove any residue that rises to the top – you want to keep the stock as clear as possible
Once the broth is clear, add the beef shin, pork belly, lemongrass, pineapple, onion, salt and sugar and lower the heat – the pork belly should take about 1 hour to cook. Once the meat is tender, remove from the pot and set aside
The beef shin takes roughly 2 hours to cook and can be checked by sliding a sharp knife into the thickest part of the beef. If there is no blood oozing out, the beef is done. If there is blood, place the shin back into the broth and continue to simmer until the juices run clear
Continue to simmer the broth over a low heat for at least another 2 hours to get all of the sweetness from the pineapple, onions and bones. Season the broth to taste with salt and sugar
To make the chilli oil, place the oil and achiote seeds in a medium pan and heat over a medium heat until it becomes amber red. Strain, discard the seeds and pour the annatto oil back in the pan. Place over a medium heat
Once the oil is hot add the chilli powder, minced garlic, lemongrass and shallots. Lower the heat and sauté the mixture until fragrant, making sure it doesn’t burn
Remove the oil from the heat and mix in the fine shrimp paste. Set aside and allow to cool
Meanwhile, prepare the accompaniments. Thinly slice the beef shin and pork belly and prepare the vermicelli noodles as per packet instructions
To assemble the Bún bò Huế, add the chilli oil to the broth and season according to taste. The broth should be slightly spicy, sour and sweet with a strong umami taste from the shrimp paste
Place the noodles, slices of beef shin and pork belly in the serving bowls. Ladle a few spoons of the broth into the bowl and garnish with herbs, banana blossom, beansprouts, sliced red onion, lime and chilli. Serve immediately

A London-based food and travel photographer and writer, Leyla spent the best part of 2015 eating her way around the world.

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