Monday, July 19, 2010

Bun Bo Hue

My mom is from Hue, in Central Vietnam. She makes the best Bun Bo Hue ever. I tried to convince her to open a restaurant to serve just this very dish and maybe some coffee to add diversity, but I think it's too risky to base your entire business on one dish, and one drink. But now she has a job, she is my accountant. Which is awesome and uses her business finance degree. Bonus. So I learned how to prepare this dish from her.

And like me, my mom gives recipes in terms of "throw all this stuff in here and add this spice to your liking and cook until its not raw".  Yeah, we're not great at quantifying, so you'll have to trust your taste buds when making this dish. :) I changed a few things to make it easier on my schedule but it's still super easy and really tasty!

Oh, what's Bun Bo Hue? It's a spicy, lemongrass soup originating from Hue, Vietnam. It literally translates to Noodle Beef Hue (city). It usually has pig feet and sometimes pig blood, but um, yeah, no. 

I bought a BIG piece of pork so I divided it into 3 meals (goi cuon, bun bo hue, and the next little surprise), so I used pork instead of beef, and also bought some pork hocks, but I added some of that essential beef flavor in another way. Recipe below!

Bun Bo Hue

You know that pork/shrimp stock I had from my goi cuon meal? I saved it and used it for the stock of this soup I made yesterday for lunch.  Yep, I try to not use water for soup bases because it doesn't add any flavor.

Pork Hock
Onion (3/4 diced, 1/4 thinly sliced for serving)
Garlic (diced)
Lemongrass (finely diced)
Fish Sauce (or salt)
Chili powder, paprika, brown sugar, salt, pepper
Cilantro (for serving)
Noodles (the ones I used for goi cuon yesterday)

Sprinkle canola oil in a deep pot and add diced onion, garlic and lemongrass. Stir until onion is translucent and then clump all the aromatics in the middle of the pot. Salt/pepper pork and hocks and sear on all sides around the aromatics. When they're sufficiently crusted and yummy looking, add chili powder, paprika and brown sugar. Stir to incorporate and then add the pork/shrimp stock.

Because I wasn't using the most essential ingredient (beef), I added beef stock to fill the rest of the pot. Bring it to a boil. Smell that? That's pretty much what it tastes like. The lemongrass is fragrant and the chili powder is in high gear. I add fish sauce to taste and cook on medium heat until the meat is cooked through. In the last 8 minutes, I cut around the hock bone and place it back in the pot to finish cooking.

You'll probably have to skim the impurities off the top throughout the cooking process. 

Remove pork and hock and slice thinly. Place on bed of noodles and top with cilantro and sliced onion. Pour hot soup over the entire thing to bring out the cilantro/onion flavor/aroma.

Enjoy and let the boys do the dishes after lunch. :)


  1. omg I am salivating :)

    love your blog!


  2. I am getting hungry right now. That dish is mouthwatering. I can't wait to try that one. I just wish that my can perfectly cook that amazing dish.

  3. Thanks for the recipe. I have been wondering how different this is from pho. Will give it a try.

  4. Glad I could help, May. Now that you mention pho, I kind of want some now...