Bun bo hue
What is bun bo hue?
Bun bo hue (bún bò huế, pronounced “boon bo way”) is the lesser-known brother of pho. As well as rice vermicelli (bun) and oxtail (bo), this soup, which is not for the faint-hearted, sometimes contains coagulated pig’s blood.
The legendary noodle soup is originally from the Vietnamese city of Hue, a former imperial capital during the nineteenth-century Nguyen Dynasty. The name, bun bo hue means “beef-noodle soup from Hue”, though today, only ten per cent of the ingredients are beef. The name has stuck and will always remain.
Although most food from Vietnam is relatively mild in flavour, the city of Hue is known for its spicy, complex dishes. Bun bo hue is one of the fiercest dishes in Vietnamese cuisine and makes your lips tingle.
The soup is legendary in Vietnam and among chefs around the world. The outspoken American TV chef, Anthony Bourdain even called it “the best soup in the world.” Do you like pho but want a deeper, unexpectedly spicy flavour without losing the typical Vietnamese freshness? Then bun bo hue is the dish for you.
Did you know...
Most Western restaurants don’t add any clotted blood to their bun bo hue. Reassuring perhaps, although the ingredient sounds more frightening than it is. The blood is boiled with salt until it solidifies to a firm texture. It has a pleasant mild taste.
How to make bun bo hue
Pieces of pork and beef are marinated in fish sauce, while a strong broth is made from oxtail seasoned with lemongrass, cinnamon, cloves, chilli and shrimp paste. The marinated meat is cooked in the broth and sliced. Each bowl of bun bo hue contains a portion of rice vermicelli noodles in broth, slices of meat and a piece of oxtail. Some chefs add fish balls. In the hardcore version, you will also find the infamous cubes of pig blood. The dish is garnished with beansprouts, spring onion and fresh chilli, alongside extra shrimp paste and lime wedges.
How to eat
Serve the noodle soup in a bowl, stir in vegetables, herbs and lime juice to taste and eat with chopsticks and a spoon. Slurping allowed!
There are two types of bun bo (noodles with beef) in Vietnamese cuisine. As well as bun bo hue, there is a dry noodle dish that is eaten as a hot salad and bun bo nam bo hot.