Updated: Jul 25, 2021
Bun Bo Hue is a classic Vietnamese broth from Hue. This broth is underrated in my opinion as Pho gets all the love internationally but I think Bun Bo Hue may be slightly better!? Spicy, sweet and savoury are the key flavour profiles when making this broth with a delicious and complex base. Usually Bun Bo Hue has many toppings that includes porks blood, Vietnamese ham, pigs trotters and also thinly sliced braised beef. I personally don't think this dish needs that much, therefore for this recipe I only use beef bones and boiling beef to form the base of the stock. I prefer making it this way as you achieve a lighter yet still extremely fragrant broth. With all that said let's jump straight to it!
To make 4-5 bowls
1.5kg beef marrowbone
750-1kg boiling beef on the bone
1 white onion
3 lemongrass stalks
1 medium sized red chilli
2-3 tbsp rock sugar
4-5 tbsp salt (seasoning)
fish sauce (seasoning)
2 lemongrass stalks
4 garlic cloves
2 tbsp mild chilli powder
2 tbsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp onion powder
3-5 tbsp cooking oil
Herbs and Toppings:
400g pho rice noodles
red or green chillies (optional)
1 bunch coriander
1 bunch mint
4 spring onions
1/2 red cabbage
1/2 red onion
1. Let's start with making the base for the broth as this will need around 5-6 hours of cooking time. In order to create a clear broth we need to firstly blanch the bones to clean and dispose of the impurities. Place 1.5kg of beef marrowbone and 1kg of boiling beef into a large deep pan and fill with cold water. Place onto a high heat and bring to a boil. When boiling, boil for 20-25 minutes or until all of the impurities rise to the top of the pan.
2. When the water looks like the image just above, drain then clean the bones and boiling beef as best as you can under cold running water. When clean add to a fresh pan and fill right up with water again. Place onto a high heat and bring the fresh pot back up to a boil. When boiling turn the heat down to medium low and simmer for 3 hours without a lid whilst skimming occasionally if needed.
3. After 3 hours of the broth simmering we now want to remove just the boiling beef from the broth, as at this point they should be cooked just enough so they are extremely tender but not overcooked to the point where they will break apart when we slice them. Now removed from the broth we want to chill the boiling beef under cold water to prevent the meat from browning. Store in the refrigerator and allow to completely chill then when cool remove the bone and slice thinly.
4. After a good 3 hours of simmering the broth we now want to incorporate the sweet, spicy and salty elements. Start by toasting 100g of ginger and 1 red chilli under a naked flame to char. Remove the charred parts of the ginger with the back of a knife then roughly cut into slices. Now bruise 3 lemon grass stalks, peel 1/2 a pineapple and finally peel 1 whole onion. Add all of the prepared ingredients to the broth along with 4-5 tbsp of sea salt and continue to simmer for 1 hour.
5. Now onto the satay, this is what will give the broth its colour, spice and even more aroma. Begin by bruising then finely chopping 2 lemongrass stalks and mincing 4 garlic cloves. Add the lemongrass and garlic to a pan with approximately 3-5 tbsp of cooking oil then fry on a medium heat until nice and fragrant. When ready, add 2 tbsp chilli powder, 2 tbsp paprika, 1 tsp ginger powder, 1 tsp onion powder and 1 tsp garlic powder then turn the heat down to low. Cook out the satay for 5 minutes whilst constantly stirring to prevent from catching. If the satay becomes too dry then add a small amount of water.
6. We now want to add all of the satay into the broth, before we add the satay we can remove the cooked pineapple, ginger, onion, lemongrass and chilli from the broth when cooked as its purpose is now done. Add the satay and stir to incorporate into the broth removing any scum that may rise to the top. Add 2-3 tbsp rock sugar and season the broth with fish sauce then allow to simmer away for an additional 30 minutes or so to allow the broth to mingle with the satay. Now that everything is pretty much set all that's left is to cook the rice noodles and prepare the herbs.
Herbs and Toppings
7. For the rice noodles add to a pan of boiling water and cook for 3-5 minutes or the amount of time the packet suggests. We want to cook the noodles to the point where they are just under cooked as they will continue to cook when we add the hot broth at the end. When ready drain from the boiling water and refresh under cold running water until chilled. This will give the rice noodles a more bouncy and sticky texture. When ready place the cooked rice noodles to one side.
8. Finally all that's left is to prep the herbs, I like to build up a big plate of herbs and serve family style when I serve the broth. Begin by washing and picking a bunch of mint, coriander and beansprouts then finely slice 1/2 red cabbage, finely chop 1/2 red onion, 1 green chilli and slice 4 spring onions. Place all the herbs and vegetables onto a serving plate and we are good to go.
9. To serve the bowls begin by turning the broth onto a high heat and bring up to a boil to heat. Check the seasoning and if needed add more sugar for sweet or fish sauce for salty. To build up the bowls start with a hand full of rice noodles then lay over some of the sliced beef. Place over some of the herbs then generously ladle over the broth. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lime and some chilli and nourish! Hope you like this beautiful bowl of bun bo hue!
Traditionally bun bo hue consists of Vietnamese ham, braised pork trotters and pigs blood as well as beef so feel free if you want to add those to this recipe also if you can find them. The broth is also quite heavy on adding shrimp paste however, when I tried the broth I felt I did not need shrimp paste as I got that funky umami through the fish sauce alone. Have fun making bun bo hue and I promise if you haven't tried it yet then you are missing out!