Bun Bo Hue is a comforting Vietnamese noodle soup known for its bold and spicy broth, a hearty and satisfying dish with complex, robust flavors, so good.
Bun Bo Hue Recipe (Spicy Vietnamese Noodle Soup)
If you enjoy a delicious noodle soup, you're going to fall in love with this amazing recipe from Vietnam. It's called Bún Bò Huế, and it is guaranteed to satisfy your cravings.
What is Bun Bo Hue?
Bun Bo Hue is a popular Vietnamese noodle soup known for its bold and spicy flavors. It originates from the city of Hue in central Vietnam and is considered a regional specialty.
It is made by simmering beef and pork bones with other aromatic ingredients and spices to make a rich broth, which is served over rice noodles, thinly sliced meats, and lots of toppings to accompany the dish.
You may have never heard of the dish, but you've likely heard of the famous dish that is quite similar, Vietnamese Pho. Pho is widely known around the world, and bun bo hue is basically a spicy version of that dish.
It is very popular in Vietnam, found in Vietnamese restaurants there and around the world, but also popular with street food vendors.
You'll love it because it's hearty and satisfying, a soul-warming bowl of perfection, and you can make it as spicy as you want.
I've also included a homemade spicy chili oil recipe you can make to add an extra kick to your dish. I hope you enjoy it.
Let's talk about how to make Bun Bo Hue, shall we?
Bun Bo Hue Ingredients
The full ingredients list with measurements is listed in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- FOR THE STOCK
- Beef Shank or Oxtails.
- Pork Hocks. Or use pig trotters.
- Beef Brisket.
- Aromatics. Onion, garlic, lemongrass, ginger.
- FOR THE BUN BO HUE
- Chili Flakes. Or you can use fresh chilies.
- Ground Annatto. Optional, for color.
- Shrimp Paste.
- Vegetable Oil.
- Salt and Sugar.
- Rice Noodles. Use thick rice vermicelli noodles (round, not flat noodles). Or use pho noodles.
- FOR GARNISH (use your favorites)
- Fish sauce, Fresh herbs (cilantro, Thai basil, mint), Bean sprouts, Lime wedges, Sliced red onion, Sliced green onions, Sliced cabbage or bok choy.
- FOR THE SPICY CHILI OIL (Optional)
- Vegetable Oil. Or other neutral oil.
- Hot Chili Peppers. Use hot ones to your own heat preference.
- Fresh Lemongrass.
- Gochugaru. Gochugaru is spicy Korean chili flakes, which you can find in Asian grocery stores or online. You can sub in other chili flakes.
How to Make Bun Bo Hue - the Recipe Method
MAKE THE STOCK
Get yourself a large stockpot and add the beef shank (or oxtails) and pork hocks. Cover with water and a bit of salt, then boil them for 2-3 minutes. Drain and rinse the bones to clean them.
Rinse the pot, return the bones, then add the beef brisket, onion, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, and ½ tablespoon salt.
Add enough water to cover (about 12 cups), bring to a boil then simmer for 1 hour, skimming any foam that rises to the surface.
Remove the brisket and pork hocks and cool them down enough to handle. Thinly slice the brisket and pick out the pork meat.
Toss the pork bones and refrigerate the meat for now.
Simmer the stock another 1-2 hours to let the flavors develop further. Add water as needed to maintain the stock level if needed.
Also, skim off any fat and scum that rises to the surface as you simmer.
Remove from heat. Pick any remaining meat from the bones and discard the beef bones but reserve the meat.
Strain the stock into a large pot and skim the fat, then remove and throw away any large solids.
This is the rich stock base of your bun bo hue, similar to Vietnamese pho stock.
TO MAKE THE BUN BO HUE
Process the chili flakes or fresh chilies, ground annatto, shrimp paste, shallot and garlic in a food processor to form a paste. This is the spicy element to the dish.
Cook the paste in a small pan with oil a couple minutes, until the mixture becomes aromatic.
Stir the cooked paste into the stock along with salt and sugar to taste, then simmer for 20 to 30 minutes to let the flavors develop and mingle.
Cook the noodles according to the packaging directions and drain.
SERVE THE BUN BO HUE
Distribute the noodles between the serving bowls along with the reserved meats, then ladle in the seasoned hot broth and serve with garnishes.
Drizzle with spicy chili oil, if desired.
FOR THE CHILI OIL
Simmer the fresh minced chilies, minced lemongrass, minced shallot, and minced garlic in vegetable oil in a sauce pan over medium heat 15-20 minutes, or until the ingredients brown in the pot.
Pour the hot oil over the Korean chili flakes in a heat proof bowl and mix. Spoon it over your noodle soup for an extra spicy kick.
See my post on How to Make Chili Oil for more detailed instructions.
Boom! Done! Your Bun Bo Hue is ready to serve. This is definitely the ultimate beef noodle soup, Vietnamese style, and nice and spicy.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Flavor Additions. There are many variations from cook to cook. Some other popular ingredients include pork blood cubes, cooked beef sausage, cinnamon, star anise, coriander seeds, or fennel seeds.
- Garnishes. This recipe is wide open with garnish possibilities. Top it with your favorites, like fresh parsley or cilantro, bean sprouts, sliced red onions, sliced chilies, chili flakes, lime juice or wedges, the sky is the limit.
Storage & Leftovers
Bun Bo Hue will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator in a sealed container. It is best to store the soup stock separately from the cooked meats, as well as any leftover toppings.
You can freeze the stock and the meats separately in freezer containers for 3 months or longer.
Medium. Bun Bo Hue can vary in heat levels, from mild to hot, depending on your choice of chilies and chili flakes.
You can make a milder version with mild chilies and holding back on the red pepper flakes. Make a spicier version by using hotter peppers, but also by adding hot chilies during the stock making process.
You can also use extra hot chilies and hot pepper flakes with the optional chili oil, which I highly recommend.
Or, consider my Homemade Chili Crisp recipe as an option.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this recipe for bun bo hue. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you. Leave some comments and share!
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Bun Bo Hue Recipe (Spicy Vietnamese Noodle Soup)
FOR THE STOCK
- 4 pounds (1.8 kg) beef shank or oxtails
- 2 pounds (.9 kg) pork hocks (or use trotters)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons salt divided
- 1 pound (450 g) beef brisket
- 1 large onion peeled and quartered
- 6-8 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
- 4 stalks lemongrass cut into 3-inch pieces and smashed
- 2- inch knob of ginger sliced
FOR THE BUN BO HUE
- 1-2 tablespoons chili flakes or fresh sliced chilies adjust to your spice preference
- 1 teaspoon ground annatto seeds optional, for color
- 2 tablespoons shrimp paste
- 1 small shallot minced
- 1-2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Salt and sugar to taste use white or brown sugar
- 1 pound (450 g) thick rice vermicelli noodles (round, not flat noodles)
FOR GARNISH (use your favorites)
- Fish sauce, Fresh herbs (cilantro, Thai basil, mint), Bean sprouts, Lime wedges, Sliced red onion, Sliced green onions, Sliced cabbage or bok choy
FOR THE SPICY CHILI OIL (Optional)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil or other neutral oil
- 2 tablespoons minced hot chili pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced lemongrass
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 1 tablespoon Korean chili flakes gochugaru, or use other chili flakes
- Salt to taste just a pinch
MAKE THE STOCK
- Add the beef shank (or oxtails) and pork hocks to a large stockpot. Cover with water and add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 2-3 minutes. Drain the bones and rinse them under cold running water.
- Rinse the pot and return the bones to the pot. Add the beef brisket, onion, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, and ½ tablespoon salt.
- Add enough water to cover (12 cups) and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour, skimming any foam that rises to the surface.
- Remove the brisket and pork hocks and cool them down (refrigerate, if needed). Thinly slice the brisket and remove the pork meat, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Discard the pork bones, but leave the meaty beef bones.
- Continue simmering the stock for 1-2 hours, skimming scum and fat as needed, to let the flavors develop further. Add water as needed to maintain the stock level if needed.
- Remove from heat. Pick any remaining meat from the bones and discard the bones but reserve the meat. Strain the stock into a large pot and skim the fat, then remove and throw away any large solids.
MAKE THE BUN BO HUE
- Add the chili flakes or fresh chilies, ground annatto, shrimp paste, shallot and garlic to a food processor (or use a mortar and pestle). Process to form a paste.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a small pan to medium heat and add the paste. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the mixture becomes aromatic.
- Stir the cooked paste into the stock along with salt and sugar to taste.
- Simmer for 20 minutes to let the flavors develop and mingle.
- Cook the noodles according to the packaging directions and drain.
SERVE THE BUN BO HUE
- Distribute the noodles between the serving bowls along with the reserved meats on top of the noodles.
- Ladle in the seasoned hot cooking stock and top with your preferred garnishes, or serve the garnishes on the side.
- Drizzle with spicy chili oil, if desired.
FOR THE CHILI OIL
- Add the vegetable oil, fresh chilies, lemongrass, shallot, and garlic to a sauce pan. Heat to medium-low and simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring often, or until the ingredients brown in the pot.
- Add the Korean chili flakes and salt to a heat proof bowl. Pour in the hot oil mixture and mix well.