One of my favorite noodle soup is the Vietnamese Spicy Beef Noodles. The flavor of the broth is what sets this soup apart from any other noodle soup.
Spicy Beef Noodle or Bun Bo Hue is not for the light stomach. I, for one, do not eat everything that this dish comes with, but I do like the beef blood. I don't get hung up on what it is, but how it tastes to me.
Bun Bo Hue Recipe Serves at least 15 large bowls
32 qt pot
6 lb pork bones
6 lb beef bones
3 lb beef shank
14 qt water
1-2 lbs sliced ham hocks (optional)
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbs fine shrimp paste
10-12 stalks of lemongrass, using only the white and green ends, bruise and tie together in bunches
1/4 whole pineapple (fresh if possible)
1 yellow onion, peeled
Spice mix: 3/4 cup oil (olive oil)
tbs annatto seeds
1 packet of bún bò Huế seasoning
2 tbs minced garlic 2 tbs minced shallot
1/4 cup minced lemongrass
2-3 tbs chile pepper flakes (adjust according to your taste)
3 tbs fine shrimp paste accompaniments: bun bo hue noodles,
Cooked noodles according to directions and drained.
Condiments: Precooked pork blood (optional), cha hue or cha lua sliced (vietnamese sausages), cabbage sliced, banana blossom sliced thin like cabbage, rau ram, bean sprouts, fine shrimp paste.
Directions: Clean the bones: In large stock pot, add the pork and beef bones and enough water to cover. Bring to boil and immediately dump out the water and bones in a clean sink, wash the pot and then rinse the bones, placing them back into the pot.
Broth: Add bones, water, beef shank, pork hock, lemongrass, pineapple, onion, shrimp paste, salt, and sugar and bring to boil. With a fine mesh strainer occasionally remove any gunk that rises to the top. Then reduce the heat to lowest setting to simmer. The pork hocks should take about 45 min-1 hr to cook--when the skin is tender, remove and set aside. The 3lbs of beef shank takes roughly 3 hrs to cook. To see if the beef shank is cooked, poke a chopstick into the center, it should slide in with minimal pressure. If there is no blood oozing out, then it's done. Remove and place in water bath to avoid discoloration and set aside until ready to slice. After removing the hocks and shank, continue to simmer the broth under low heat partially covered for at least another 1 hour (roughly minimum of 4 hours total--but you can simmer longer and overnight even) to get all the sweetness from the marrow bones. At this point, you can remove the bones, pineapple, etc. and strain the broth if you like. Otherwise, you can leave the bones in and scoop around it.
Accompaniments: Slice beef shank thinly, cube pork blood, slice the cha. Prepare the noodles, shred the cabbage and banana blossom, rau ram, etc. putting it all together: Add the spice mix to the broth according to your level of desired spiciness. You can now season the entire large pot with the spice mix according to your taste, or do what we do, season only the amount of broth you're going to serve and adjusting the level of spiciness to your guest's tastes. Ladle over prepared bowls of noodles and enjoy.
Cooks Notes: If you're making this in the evening, after removing the shank and hock, you can leave the pot on the lowest heat setting to simmer the bones over night. But please use caution and never do this if your pot is too small and broth is close to brim!
I translated this recipe from an old Vietnamese cookbook found at our local library. But the photos are from the best Bun Bo Hue restaurant in San Jose.