Hue beef noodle soup

Hue beef noodle soup

Bún bò Huế

Real Vietnamese Cooking
Michael Fountoulakis

The classic noodle soup from the old imperial capital. Extra mam tom (fermented shrimp paste) may be added to the broth at the table, although many Westerners can find this condiment a little too pungent, so you could offer some fish sauce instead.


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons Annatto oil
2 lemongrass stems, finely chopped, white part only
1 tablespoon Chilli sauce
1 tablespoon mam tom


Quantity Ingredient
6 red asian shallots
3cm fresh ginger, unpeeled
2 pig's trotters
1.5kg beef bones
2/3 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
500g beef shank
4 lemongrass stems, crushed, white part only

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
600g dried rice vermicelli
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
coriander leaves
bean sprouts
2 red bird's eye chillies, sliced
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges


  1. To make the broth, first chargrill the whole unpeeled shallots and ginger on a barbecue or gas burner over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until they are fragrant and the skin is lightly charred. Remove and cool slightly. Using your fingers, flake off the outer thin layer of skin.
  2. Meanwhile, place the trotters and beef bones in a large saucepan and cover with cold water.
  3. Add the salt, sugar and the chargrilled shallots and ginger to the pan and slowly bring to simmering point, skimming off any froth that rises to the surface. Simmer for 2 hours, skimming off any more froth. Add the beef shank and the crushed lemongrass and cook for a further 1 hour.
  4. Remove the shank and set aside. Strain the broth and discard the ginger, shallots and lemongrass. Pick any meat from the bones and add to the broth.
  5. When the shank is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone and cut into pieces 5 mm thick.
  6. Heat the annatto oil in a clean saucepan. Add the chopped lemongrass and cook over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the chilli sauce and mam tom and cook for a few seconds, then pour in the broth and bring back to the boil.
  7. Meanwhile, soak the vermicelli in boiling water for 4-5 minutes. Gently stir to separate the noodles, then drain and refresh under cold water. Use kitchen scissors to cut the vermicelli into easy-to-manage lengths.
  8. Divide the noodles and the meats among six deep bowls, then ladle the hot broth over. Scatter with the onion and some of the herbs.
  9. Serve the remaining herbs, bean sprouts, chilli and lime wedges on the side.
Real Vietnamese Cooking
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