My curiosity for this dish was peaked after an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown which took him to this market in Vietnam where a lady very familiar with this dish makes him a delicious bowl of Bun Bo Hue. Seeing him enjoy the bowl of noodles and soup compelled me to make it myself. First I needed a baseline, so I found a local restaurant at the recommendation of the blog TastyChomps called Vietnam Cuisine Restaurant that served this dish with all of the toppings. Though I ate all the traditional toppings I realized I had not acquired the taste for some of the toppings. So I resolved to make this dish with the toppings I understood for now and work towards including the rest of the toppings in the future.
Then I came across a Youtube video by Seonkyoung Lonest where she featured her friend Be’s Bun Bo Hue’s recipe. I was amazed at the preparation and knew I wanted to try out her recipe. I realized by the end of the video that Be was allergic to shrimp and therefore did not include shrimp paste in her version of Bun Bo Hue. I love all things shrimpy and fishy, so I knew I needed someone to show me how to include shrimp paste in the Bun Bo Hue broth. This led me to Helen’s Recipes on Youtube and in her Bun Bo hue recipe she shows me exactly how to use the shrimp paste. So using all of the above as references I set off to create this dish and I was so pleased with the outcome. I shared this meal with good friends of mine who also enjoyed this dish. Since we are also trying to be low carb, some of us ate this broth with spiralized daikon noodles and really enjoyed it.
To prepare for this meal I went to three different Asian grocery stores to get all the ingredients. Pro tip find the biggest Asian store and then when you get there find the owner to help you with your shopping list. My trip to Dong-A Supermarket was the best, when I was visibly confused the owner walked over and quickly helped me find all the ingredients I was looking for, even the ones that were unlabeled. If you are in the Central Florida area I highly recommend this grocery store. This recipe does have a lot of ingredients and to those of us that are not Vietnamese it is an entirely new experience. All this effort truly does pay off with an amazing bowl of noodles and soup. A meal that comes highly recommended by the late Anthony Bourdain. I too highly recommend this bowl of awesomeness to everyone. I hope you try this dish as well.
MAIN SOUP INGREDIENTS
- 6 Lbs Beefy ‘Neck’ Bones (or beefy bone-in beef shank)
- 2 Lbs Boneless Beef Shank (if you buy beefy bone in shanks adjust this accordingly)
- 1/3 of a Pineapple, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 12 Stalks Fresh Lemongrass, trim off the upper halves, bruise the stalks, and tie them up in a bunch
- 1 Large Yellow Onion, cut of the ends and peel the skin
- 5 Inch Piece Fresh Ginger (palm size), sliced in half length wise
- 4 Tsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp Chicken Bouillon (I used the brand Better than Bouillon)
- 1 Inch Piece of Rock Sugar or 2 Tbsp Sugar/Erythritol
- 1 Loaf Vietnamese Uncooked Processed Ham/Sausage (Be suggests using either gio song or cha lua song. She mentions that it can be purchased at most Vietnamese grocery stores in the freezer section)
- 1 Tsp Black Pepper
- 1/4 Lb Ground Pork
- 3 Cloves Garlic, chopped (approximately 1 Tsp)
- 1 Tbsp Shallots, minced
- 2 Scallions, chopped
- 1 Tsp Paprika (use dry bun bo hue seasoning instead if you have it on hand)
- 1/2 Tsp Sugar/Erythritol
- 2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
- 2 Tsp Baking Powder
- 4 Tbsp Canola Oil
- 5 Cloves Garlic, minced (approximately 2 Tsp)
- 3 Tbsp Lemongrass, minced (frozen ones ok)
- 1/4 Cup Shallots, minced
- 1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Crushed Red Peppers or Chili Powder (optional)
- 2 Tbsp Paprika (use dry bun bo hue seasoning instead if you have it on hand)
MAIN SOUP SEASONING INGREDIENTS
- 5 Tbsp Fish Sauce (adjust to your preference)
- 2 Cubes Bun Bo Hue Stock Bouillons
- 2 Tbsp Fine Shrimp Paste (mam tom/ruoc)
GARNISH & NOODLE INGREDIENTS
- Thick rice vermicelli noodles (cook 30-45 minutes prior to serving)
- Chopped cilantro
- Lime wedges
- Yellow Onions, thinly sliced
- Green Cabbage, thinly sliced
- Par boil the bones and beef shank for about 10 minutes. Drain and wash the bones and beef shank well to remove all impurities. Wash the pot well to remove any bone and meat residue.
- Add bones and beef shank back to a clean pot.
- Add 28 cups cold water to the pot.
- Add the pineapple, onion, lemongrass bundle, ginger halves, salt, chicken bouillon, and sugar/erythritol to the pot.
- Bring soup to a rolling boil, then lower the heat to medium and simmer for 2.5 hours. While the soup is simmering, remove any scum/impurities from the surface of the soup.
- To prepare the meatballs, combine all ingredients for meatballs in a mixing bowl and mix well. Cover and keep it in a refrigerator until it is needed.
- To prepare the sate, heat oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the lemongrass and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes then turn off heat and immediately add the garlic, red chili flakes/powder, paprika/bun bo hue powder, and fish sauce. Mix well to incorporate all the remaining ingredients and set aside.
- To prepare the rice noodles, add the rice noodles in pot of boiling water, stir to make sure all noodles are completely submerged. Test a noodles at the 15 minute mark and add cooking time as needed till noodles are fully cooked. Note that for this meal we do not want al dente noodles. I cooked my noodles for about 20 minutes.
- After the noodles are cooked, drain and rinse noodles in a colander under cold water to remove excess starch and heat from the noodles. After the rinsing is complete drain remaining water completely and let noodles rest with no cover. Fluff the noodles periodically so that it does not stick together. Be suggests that air-drying the noodles help the noodles absorb the flavor of the soup better and I am down for that. 🙂
- After 2.5 hours, remove all vegetables, fruits, and beef shank from the soup pot. Discard the fruits and vegetables. Wrap beef shank tightly and refrigerate.
- Dissolve the shrimp paste in 1 cup of cold water. Let it sit for 10 minutes to settle the dregs. Fill a saucepan with 2 cups of water and pour the shrimp paste liquid into the saucepan, being careful not to agitate the liquid while pouring. Discard the dregs at the bottom. Bring the liquid in the saucepan to a boil, then remove from the heat and let it sit for 15 mins, undisturbed, to settle the dregs again. Again pour the shrimp paste liquid from the saucepan in the stock pot, being careful not to agitate the liquid while pouring. Again, discard the dregs at the bottom.
- Remove beef shank from the refrigerator and slice into 1/8 inch thick pieces. Cover and keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Now it is time to add the main soup seasoning ingredients. Add fish sauce, bun bo hue seasoning and sate to the soup. Adjust fish sauce or salt to taste.
- Get the meatball ingredients from the refrigerator and find your ice cream scoop. Meanwhile, bring soup to a rolling boil. When the soup is boiling drop the meatballs into pot using a small size ice cream scoop (I just used my hand to form meatballs before dropping it into the soup pot). The meatballs will float to the surface once it is done cooking.
- In a serving bowl, arrange cooked noodles, the meat slices then ladle over the broth with meatballs. Add all the desired garnishes. Squeeze a wedge of fresh lime and you are ready to enjoy this amazing bowl of Bun Bo Hue!