Bun Bo Hue Recipe

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bowl of traditional south vietnamese noodle dish bun bo hue

Bun Bo Hue is a spicy beef noodle soup that originated from the central Vietnamese city of Hue. It is a popular dish in Vietnam and is gaining popularity in other parts of the world as well. The soup is known for its rich and spicy broth, tender slices of beef and pork, and fresh herbs.

The dish is made by simmering beef and pork bones with lemongrass, annatto seeds, and other spices for several hours to create a flavorful broth. The broth is then served with rice noodles, slices of beef and pork, and a variety of herbs and vegetables, such as bean sprouts, lime wedges, and cilantro. The soup is typically served with a side of shrimp paste, which can be mixed into the broth to add an extra layer of flavor.

Making Bun Bo Hue at home is not difficult, but it does require some time and effort. The broth can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen until ready to use. Once the broth is ready, the soup can be assembled quickly by cooking the noodles and meat and adding them to the broth along with the desired herbs and vegetables. With a little practice, anyone can enjoy this delicious and comforting Vietnamese dish in the comfort of their own home.

Origins of Bun Bo Hue

Bun Bo Hue is a spicy Vietnamese noodle soup that originated in the city of Hue, located in central Vietnam. The dish is believed to have been created during the Nguyen Dynasty, which ruled Vietnam from 1802 to 1945. The Nguyen Dynasty was based in Hue, and the city was known for its royal cuisine.

Legend has it that Bun Bo Hue was created by a chef in the royal court who was tasked with creating a new dish for the emperor. The chef combined beef, pork, and a variety of herbs and spices to create a flavorful broth, which was then served over rice noodles.

Over time, Bun Bo Hue became popular among the general population in Hue and spread to other parts of Vietnam. Today, it is a popular street food in Vietnam and is also served in many Vietnamese restaurants around the world.

Bun Bo Hue is known for its spicy and savory broth, which is made with lemongrass, shrimp paste, and chili oil. The soup is typically served with rice noodles, sliced beef, and pork, as well as a variety of herbs and vegetables, such as bean sprouts, lime wedges, and mint leaves.

In conclusion, Bun Bo Hue is a delicious and flavorful noodle soup that has a rich history and cultural significance in Vietnam. Its origins can be traced back to the royal court in Hue, and it has since become a beloved dish throughout the country and beyond.

Essential Ingredients

Beef and Pork Cuts

Bun Bo Hue is a Vietnamese spicy beef and pork noodle soup that is known for its rich and complex flavors. The soup base is made with a combination of beef and pork cuts, which are simmered for several hours to create a flavorful broth. The most commonly used beef cut is beef shank, while pork hocks and pork bones are used for the pork component of the soup. These cuts are known for their high collagen content, which gives the soup its signature gelatinous texture.

Spices and Aromatics

To give the soup its distinct flavor, a combination of spices and aromatics are used. The most important spice used in the soup is the chili flakes, which give the soup its signature spiciness. Other spices used include lemongrass, garlic, shallots, and paprika. These ingredients are toasted in oil before being added to the soup, which helps to release their flavors and aromas.

Fresh Herbs and Vegetables

Fresh herbs and vegetables are also an essential component of Bun Bo Hue. The most commonly used herbs are Thai basil, mint, and cilantro. These herbs are added to the soup just before serving, which helps to enhance the flavor and aroma of the soup. Other vegetables used in the soup include bean sprouts, lime wedges, and sliced banana blossom. These ingredients provide a fresh and crunchy texture to the soup, which helps to balance out the rich and spicy broth.

Broth Preparation

Simmering the Meat

To start the broth preparation for Bun Bo Hue, the meat should be cleaned and simmered. The meat used for the broth can be beef shanks, beef bones, and ham hocks. First, add all the meat to a stock pot and enough water to submerge it, then bring it to a boil. Drain and rinse thoroughly under running water. Next, add the meat, broth, lemongrass, and onions to the pot and fill it with water almost to the brim. Bring it to a boil, then drop the heat to medium-high to maintain a low boil. Allow the meat to simmer for several hours until it is tender and the broth is rich and flavorful.

Creating the Broth Base

The broth base for Bun Bo Hue is a combination of many types of bones. To create the broth base, add beef shanks, beef bones, and ham hocks to a stockpot and add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Let it soak at room temperature for 30 minutes to draw out any blood. Drain, rinse, then return the meat and bones to the same pot. Add fresh water to cover by 1 inch, then bring it to a rolling boil over high heat. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface and discard it. Add in the spices such as annatto seeds, chili flakes, lemongrass, garlic, and shallots and let it simmer for several hours until the broth is rich and flavorful.

Overall, the broth preparation for Bun Bo Hue is a time-consuming process but well worth the effort. The combination of beef and pork in the broth creates a depth of flavor that is both spicy and savory. The broth is the foundation of the dish and sets the tone for the entire meal.

Noodle Selection and Preparation

Bun Bo Hue is a noodle soup dish that is typically made with thick rice noodles. The noodles used in this dish are different from the thin vermicelli noodles that are commonly used in other Vietnamese noodle dishes. These noodles are wider and have a chewy texture that complements the spicy broth and tender meat.

When selecting noodles for Bun Bo Hue, it is important to choose noodles that are specifically labeled as “Bun Bo Hue” or “Hue-style” noodles. These noodles are typically sold in Asian grocery stores and can be found in both fresh and dried forms. Fresh noodles are preferred, but dried noodles can also be used if fresh noodles are not available.

To prepare the noodles, they should be cooked in boiling water for 3-5 minutes, or until they are tender but still slightly chewy. After cooking, the noodles should be rinsed under cold water to stop the cooking process and remove any excess starch. The noodles can then be added to the soup just before serving.

It is important to note that the noodles should be cooked separately from the soup broth to prevent them from becoming mushy. Additionally, the noodles should be added to the soup just before serving to prevent them from becoming overcooked.

Overall, selecting the right type of noodles and properly preparing them is crucial to creating an authentic and delicious bowl of Bun Bo Hue.

Assembling the Dish

Layering the Bowl

To assemble the Bun Bo Hue, start by placing a generous portion of cooked noodles at the bottom of a bowl. Next, add a few slices of beef, pork, and pork blood cubes on top of the noodles. Then, ladle the hot and flavorful broth over the meats and noodles until they are fully submerged.

Add a spoonful of the sate chili oil on top of the broth to add a spicy kick to the dish. Finally, top the bowl with a handful of fresh herbs, including mint, cilantro, and Thai basil.

Final Garnishes

To complete the dish, add a few final garnishes to the bowl. Squeeze a wedge of lime over the top of the herbs to add a tangy flavor to the dish. Sprinkle some chopped scallions and sliced red onions over the top to add a crunchy texture and a burst of flavor.

For an extra level of heat, add a few slices of fresh jalapeno peppers to the bowl. Serve the Bun Bo Hue hot and enjoy the layers of flavors and textures in every bite.

Overall, the Bun Bo Hue is a delicious and satisfying dish that is perfect for any occasion. With its bold flavors and hearty ingredients, it is sure to please even the most discerning palates.

Accompaniments and Side Dishes

Bun Bo Hue is a flavorful and spicy Vietnamese noodle soup that is typically served with a variety of accompaniments and side dishes. These accompaniments and side dishes not only add an extra layer of flavor and texture to the soup but also provide a refreshing contrast to the spiciness of the broth.

One of the most popular accompaniments for Bun Bo Hue is Thai basil, which has a distinctive licorice aroma and vibrant green leaves. A generous handful of fresh Thai basil leaves is usually added on top of the steaming bowl of noodles. As you sip on the broth and slurp the noodles, the aromatic basil imparts a refreshing and cooling effect on the palate.

Another common accompaniment is perilla, a type of herb with a slightly minty and anise-like flavor. The leaves of perilla are often sliced thinly and added to the soup just before serving, providing a crunchy texture and a burst of freshness.

Cabbage is also a popular side dish for Bun Bo Hue. The cabbage is usually sliced thinly and served raw, providing a refreshing and crunchy contrast to the hot and spicy broth.

In addition to these accompaniments and side dishes, Bun Bo Hue is often served with a platter of lemon and lime wedges, onion slices, and chili peppers. These condiments allow diners to customize the flavor and spiciness of the soup according to their preferences.

Overall, the accompaniments and side dishes for Bun Bo Hue provide a refreshing and flavorful contrast to the spicy and rich broth. By adding these elements to the soup, diners can experience the full range of flavors and textures that make Bun Bo Hue a beloved Vietnamese dish.

Serving and Presentation

Bun Bo Hue is traditionally served in a large bowl with a variety of garnishes on the side. To assemble the soup, first, place a handful of noodles in the bottom of the bowl. Then, add a few slices of beef and pork on top of the noodles. Ladle the hot broth over the noodles and meat until the bowl is almost full.

Next, add the garnishes to the top of the soup. Some popular garnishes include bean sprouts, sliced banana blossom, shredded cabbage, lime wedges, and sliced chili peppers. Fresh herbs like Thai basil, cilantro, and mint are also commonly added.

To add a bit of heat and flavor to the soup, diners can add a spoonful of sate chili oil to their bowl. This oil is made by frying garlic, shallots, lemongrass, and chili flakes in oil until fragrant.

Bun Bo Hue is often enjoyed with a side of crusty bread or rice crackers. The bread or crackers can be used to soak up the flavorful broth at the end of the meal.

Overall, the presentation of Bun Bo Hue is simple yet elegant, allowing the vibrant colors and textures of the ingredients to shine through. The variety of garnishes and sate chili oil allow diners to customize the soup to their liking, making it a truly satisfying and delicious meal.

Variations and Substitutions

Bun Bo Hue is a versatile dish, and there are many ways to customize it to suit your taste preferences. Here are a few variations and substitutions you can try:


While the traditional recipe calls for a combination of beef and pork, you can use any meat you like. Chicken, shrimp, and tofu are all great options. If you’re a vegetarian, you can skip the meat altogether and use vegetable broth instead.


The most common type of noodles used in Bun Bo Hue is rice vermicelli, but you can use other types of noodles if you prefer. Egg noodles, udon noodles, and soba noodles are all good choices.


Bun Bo Hue is a spicy dish by nature, but you can adjust the heat level to your liking. If you prefer a milder version, use fewer chili peppers or skip the spicy oil altogether. If you like it extra spicy, add more chili peppers or use a spicier variety.


While the traditional recipe doesn’t include many vegetables, you can add any vegetables you like to make it a more balanced meal. Some good options include bean sprouts, sliced carrots, sliced bell peppers, and sliced onions.


The broth is the heart of Bun Bo Hue, and there are many ways to customize it. Some people like to add more lemongrass for a stronger flavor, while others prefer a more subtle taste. You can also experiment with different types of broth, such as chicken or vegetable broth, to create a different flavor profile.


The toppings are what make Bun Bo Hue a complete meal. Some traditional toppings include sliced beef, pork blood cubes, and Vietnamese ham. However, you can use any toppings you like. Some good options include sliced chicken, shrimp, boiled eggs, and fresh herbs like mint and cilantro.

Overall, Bun Bo Hue is a dish that can be customized to suit your taste preferences. Whether you like it spicy or mild, with meat or without, there are endless variations to try.

Storing and Reheating

After making a delicious bowl of Bun Bo Hue, you may have leftovers that you want to store for later. Proper storage and reheating can help maintain the quality and taste of the soup. Here are some tips on storing and reheating Bun Bo Hue:


  • Let the soup cool down to room temperature before storing it in an airtight container. This will prevent condensation from forming and keep the soup fresh for longer.
  • Store the soup in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • If you plan to freeze the soup, make sure to leave some headspace in the container to allow for expansion as the soup freezes.
  • Label the container with the date and contents to keep track of how long it has been stored.


  • Thaw frozen soup in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
  • Reheat the soup on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a simmer.
  • If the soup is too thick, add a small amount of water or broth to thin it out.
  • Avoid reheating the soup in the microwave as it may cause the noodles to become mushy.

By following these simple tips, you can enjoy your leftover Bun Bo Hue without sacrificing its quality and taste.

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