Bun Bo Hue Recipe (Vietnamese Beef and Vermicelli Noodle)

Living abroad, the dish I crave the most is Bun Bo Hue. This is one of the outstanding dishes of Vietnamese cuisine with flavorful broth, chewy and thick rice vermicelli, tender and sweet beef combined with fresh and delicious herbs. Let’s explore a simple and easy Bun Bo Hue recipe using basic ingredients that helped me alleviate my homesickness a lot.

bun bo hue recipe

Bun Bo Hue, a Vietnamese unique dish

Bun bo Hue (Hue beef and vermicelli soup) is a popular Vietnamese dish originating from the city of Hue in central Vietnam, hence its name. It is a flavorful and spicy soup known for its rich broth and thick rice noodles, typically served with various cuts of beef, Vietnamese ham, pig’s trotter, and congealed pork blood. The broth is a combination of beef broth, lemongrass fried in annatto oil, chili oil, shacha sauce, and shrimp paste, giving it a distinct flavor. Especially, Bun Bo Hue is one of the rare dishes in Vietnamese cuisine that uses shrimp paste (mắm ruốc) as a seasoning for the broth. Bun bo Hue is often garnished with fresh herbs like thinly sliced banana blossoms, sliced morning glory, bean sprouts, as well as lime juice and chili peppers for extra heat.

Bun Bo Hue Recipe

From Hue, bun bo Hue became popular across the country with many variations. In Saigon, bun bo Hue is always a top-of-mind dish for many people. The broth is usually sweeter and more flavorful than the original version in Hue.

Bun Bo Hue Recipe

To make 4 bowls of Bun Bo Hue, the ingredients include beef (usually beef tenderloin, sirloin, shank) and beef bones, Vietnamese ham, white onion, shallot, ginger, pineapple, lemongrass, and some vegetables (bean sprouts, sliced morning glory, sliced banana blossoms, lettuce, etc.). Here’s the detailed Bun Bo Hue recipe:

Beef & Other Proteins

  • 250g (8.8 oz) beef tenderloin/sirloin
  • 250g (8.8 oz) beef shank
  • 1 Vietnamese ham

Hue Rice Vermicelli

  • 400g (14 oz) Hue Rice Vermicelli

Broth

  • 1kg (2.2 lbs) beef bones
  • 2.5L (10 cups) water
  • Half a pineapple
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1 piece of ginger
  • 5 stalks of lemongrass (2 for simmering the broth, 3 for sautéing)
  • 4 tbsp (60ml) annatto oil/chili oil/paprika oil
  • 3 tbsp shrimp paste
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt
  • (optional) 1 tbsp shacha sauce
bun bo hue recipe
Bun Bo Hue main ingredients

Vegetables

  • (optional) 100g (3.5 oz) sliced morning glory
  • (optional) 100g (3.5 oz) sliced banana blossoms
  • (optional) 100g (3.5 oz) bean sprouts
  • (optional) 100g (3.5 oz) lettuce
  • (Optional) A handful of spring onions
  • (Optional) 1 onionHow to cook Bun Bo Hue

To shorten the cooking time, I suggest using a pressure cooker or Instant Pot to simmer the broth.

How To Cook Bun Bo Hue

Step 1. Simmering the broth

  • Wash the beef and beef bones with salty water to remove all impurities. Peel the shallot, white onion, and ginger, then cut them in half. Slightly crush 2 stalks of lemongrass. Slice off the skin of the pineapple and cut it into pieces (you don’t need to remove the pineapple eyes). You can grill the vegetables to enhance the flavor.
  • Add all the ingredients (beef, beef bones, shallot, white onion, ginger, pineapple, lemongrass) to a large pressure cooker. Turn on medium heat and cook for at least 45 minutes in the pressure cooker.

Step 2. Boiling Hue rice vermicelli (sợi bún bò) & preparing vegetables

  • While waiting for the broth to simmer, boil Hue rice vermicelli (sợi bún bò). Hue rice vermicelli is a special type of rice noodle exclusively used for bun bo Hue. It’s thicker than regular rice vermicelli, so it takes more time to boil. Add the thick rice vermicelli to a pot of water and boil on high heat for 30 minutes or a bit more. You can test the doneness by chewing a piece; if it’s soft and slightly chewy, stop boiling and immediately rinse the vermicelli under cool water.
bun bo hue
Dried thick rice vermicelli for Bun bo Hue
  • For the vegetables, in case you have banana blossoms or morning glory to enjoy with Bun bo Hue, wash them thoroughly first. Slice the banana blossoms horizontally and slice the stalks of morning glory vertically, then soak them in water for a while. With bean sprouts and lettuce, you just need to wash and leave them dry. Chop spring onions and slice white onion if you want to eat bun bo Hue with these.

Step 3. Seasoning the broth

  • Finely chop 3 stalks (or more if you prefer a more intense lemongrass aroma) and fry them in annatto oil. You can also substitute paprika oil or chili oil for annatto oil if you would like to make the Bun bo Hue spicier. The oil will impart a vibrant orange color to the broth.
  • Once done, open the pot, remove the beef, and add the infused oil to the beef broth. Then, season the broth with condiments including shrimp paste, fish sauce, salt, and shacha sauce.
bun bo hue recipe

Step 4. Cutting the beef and ham

  • When the cooked beef has cooled down, slice it thinly, ready to serve. Cut the Vietnamese Ham (cha lua) into 1cm slices.
Cooked Beef for Bun Bo Hue

Step 5. Assembling

  • In a large bowl, place rice vermicelli as the base. Add beef slices, Vietnamese ham, and vegetables on top. Finally, pour the beef broth over. Prepare some chili and lime/lemon wedges to garnish the dish if desired.
bun bo hue recipe

Storing Bun Bo Hue

Like many other noodle soups, to store Bun Bo Hue, you should store each component of the bowl (broth, beef, vermicelli, vegetables) separately in airtight containers. Store them in the fridge for no more than 3 days. When you’re ready to enjoy it, reheat the broth until boiling and blanch the vermicelli and beef in the broth, then assemble them in a bowl.

Additionally, you can store the broth and the beef in the freezer so that you can enjoy a bowl of Bun Bo Hue anytime. You’ll only need to wash the vegetables and boil dried thick rice vermicelli later.

Bun Bo Hue Recipe

Bun Bo Hue Recipe (Vietnamese Beef and Vermicelli Noodle)

Yield: 4
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour

Let's explore a simple and easy Bun Bo Hue recipe using basic ingredients that helped me alleviate my homesickness a lot.

Ingredients

Beef & Other Proteins

  • 250g (8.8 oz) beef tenderloin/sirloin
  • 250g (8.8 oz) beef shank
  • 1 Vietnamese ham

Hue Rice vermicelli

Broth

Vegetables

  • (optional) 100g (3.5 oz) sliced morning glory
  • (optional) 100g (3.5 oz) sliced banana blossoms
  • (optional) 100g (3.5 oz) bean sprouts
  • (optional) 100g (3.5 oz) lettuce
  • (Optional) A handful of spring onions
  • (Optional) 1 onionHow to cook Bun Bo Hue

Instructions

Step 1. Simmering the broth

  • Wash the beef and beef bones with salty water to remove all impurities. Peel the shallot, white onion, and ginger, then cut them in half. Slightly crush 2 stalks of lemongrass. Slice off the skin of the pineapple and cut it into pieces (you don’t need to remove the pineapple eyes). You can grill the vegetables to enhance the flavor.bun bo hue recipe
  • Add all the ingredients (beef, beef bones, shallot, white onion, ginger, pineapple, lemongrass) to a large pressure cooker. Turn on medium heat and cook for at least 45 minutes in the pressure cooker.pressure cooker

Step 2. Boiling Hue rice vermicelli (sợi bún bò) & preparing vegetables

  • While waiting for the broth to simmer, boil Hue rice vermicelli (sợi bún bò). Hue rice vermicelli is a special type of rice noodle exclusively used for bun bo Hue. It’s thicker than regular rice vermicelli, so it takes more time to boil. Add the thick rice vermicelli to a pot of water and boil on high heat for 30 minutes or a bit more. You can test the doneness by chewing a piece; if it’s soft and slightly chewy, stop boiling and immediately rinse the vermicelli under cool water.bun bo hue recipe
  • For the vegetables, in case you have banana blossoms or morning glory to enjoy with Bun bo Hue, wash them thoroughly first. Slice the banana blossoms horizontally and slice the stalks of morning glory vertically, then soak them in water for a while. With bean sprouts and lettuce, you just need to wash and leave them dry. Chop spring onions and slice white onion if you want to eat bun bo Hue with these.bun bo hue recipe

Step 3. Seasoning the broth

  • Finely chop 3 stalks (or more if you prefer a more intense lemongrass aroma) and fry them in annatto oil. You can also substitute paprika oil or chili oil for annatto oil if you would like to make the Bun bo Hue spicier. The oil will impart a vibrant orange color to the broth.bun bo hue recipe
  • Once done, open the pot, remove the beef, and add the infused oil to the beef broth. Then, season the broth with condiments including shrimp paste, fish sauce, salt, and shacha sauce.bun bo hue recipe

Step 4. Cutting the beef and ham

  • When the cooked beef has cooled down, slice it thinly, ready to serve. Cut the Vietnamese Ham (cha lua) into 1cm slices.bun bo hue recipe

Step 5. Assembling

  • In a large bowl, place rice vermicelli as the base. Add beef slices, Vietnamese ham, and vegetables on top. Finally, pour the beef broth over. Prepare some chili and lime/lemon wedges to garnish the dish if desired.Bun Bo Hue Recipe
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 bowl
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 630

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