Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup
Updated: Apr 15
Bún bò Huế is a spicy beef and pork noodle soup from Central Vietnam. It is not Spicy Pho, I think I’ve heard this before, but no it is not. Pho is the more popular noodle so I can see why people mistaken this for spicy pho, but this one shouldn’t be overlooked. This noodle soup has a robust broth with the perfect balance of spice, tang, salt, and sweetness.
Bún is the rice vermicelli which is cylindrical and round, the bò is the beef, and Huế is the city in central Vietnam where this dish originates.
Every restaurant and every family has their own spin on this dish, but this is my version. My version has a bit of spice, lemongrass flavour, shrimp paste, and a hint of pineapple. I hope you enjoy.
WHAT IS MUSHROOM SEASONING AND WHERE TO BUY IT?
Mushroom seasoning is made of mushroom powder, salt, and mushroom extract. I opt to use this instead of Chicken Bouillon Powder because I prefer not to use MSG in my cooking if I can. The Mushroom Seasoning was purchased at a Southeast Asian market in Vancouver British Columbia called 88 Supermarket, but it can also be found at large Asian grocers. There are many different manufacturers for this seasoning.
Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup
Serves 8 to 10
2 lb Pork Neck Bones or Beef Bones
1 lb Pork Feet
2lb Beef Shank
3 stalks of Lemongrass, bruised
2 cloves Garlic
1 x 3” Ginger
5 litres of Water
1 tablespoon Salt, or to taste
1 to 2 tablespoon Fish Sauce, or to taste
1 tablespoon Mushroom Seasoning to taste
1-inch chunk Rock Sugar
1-ounce thumb sized
2 tablespoon Shrimp Paste
1/2 cup Vietnamese-style sate
2 Bags of Rice Vermicelli
Pork Blood (optional)
sliced Black Pepper
Banana Blossom or cabbage
Thai Chili Lime
Bruise the ginger with a mallet or pestle.
Place the aromatics: onion, ginger, and garlic into a filter spice bag.
Cut the lemongrass into 3” pieces, and make sure to bruise lemongrass and then add to the filter spice bag.
Also add the pineapple to a filter spice bag.
Fill the pot with 5 litres of water.
Add the pork bones and feet back into the large pot, and also add the beef shank, the bag of aromatics, the lemongrass and the pineapple.
Bring to a boil, then lower the heat.
Make sure to skim occasionally to ensure a clear broth.
Cover with the lid to simmer the broth for a hour to a hour and a half or until the meat is tender but does not fall apart.
Simmer the shank for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the meat is tender but still holds it’s shape. Remove the shank, pork neck bones, and pork feet with tongs and submerge in a cold water bath for 10 minutes. This step prevents the meat from darkening and drying out. Next you want to drain the liquid and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool for about 20 minutes, if you would like it to cool faster, place in the freezer.
Next, slice the meat into thin slices and set aside. Also, start preparing the other ingredients. If you have Vietnamese ham, slice it now. Cut up the cilantro, shallots, scallions, banana blossom or cabbage, as well as the lime. Wash the bean sprouts and Vietnamese mint. In addition, cook the rice vermicelli according to the package to your preferred noodle texture.
After the other ingredients are ready, remove the aromatics bags. Strain the liquid with a fine mesh strainer to ensure a clear broth.
Next season the broth with the salt, mushroom seasoning, and fish sauce. When adding the shrimp paste, place in a sieve and stir until the sauce disperses into the soup. The purpose of this is to ensure the shrimp paste disperses evenly. No one wants a blob of shrimp paste in their soup. Also add the rock sugar. Taste and adjust to your preference. The broth may taste a bit saltier but remember once you add the noodles and other ingredients the flavour will dilute.
Next you want to add the sate sauce to the broth. Stir and mix together.
Return the broth to a slow boil over medium heat. Scoop in the meat paste into the broth and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they float to the top.
Next add the beef shank, and Vietnamese ham to the broth to heat up over medium heat. Add any other meat you’ve also prepared.
While the meat is heating up, add the cooked noodles to the serving bowls. I like to microwave my bowls for 30 seconds to heat up the noodles a bit and to warm the bowls. Feel free to skip this step.
Arrange the meat overtop the noodles, add the raw shallots, and then ladle the hot boiling broth over.
Top with scallions, cilantro, and ground black pepper.
Serve piping hot. Spoon in extra sate if you like and don’t forget to add your favourite accompaniments.