What is Bun Bo Hue?

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bun bo hue
bun bo hue

Bun bo Hue originated in the beautiful ancient city of Hue in Central Vietnam famous for its Royal Cuisine. Like the more famous Pho Bo, it is a beef noodle dish but is distinctly different due to its history and origins. It is a noodle soup with a rich spicy broth, it contains slices of beef or pork and is topped with leaves and herbs as so many Vietnamese dishes are. It is a meal full of flavours and textural contrasts. Geographical origins and climate invariably affect flavour and ingredients found in classic Vietnamese dishes but pho bo, unlike bun bo Hue, has a French influence.

Hue was long known as the cuisine capital of Vietnam and saw the creation of many signature Vietnamese dishes. For over a century and a half (since 1802 when the Nguyen Dynasty controlled Vietnam), Hue was the official capital and seat of power for the ruling Dynasties. Hue cuisine is Royal cuisine, the food of kings and emperors and it has a reputation for full flavours and spicy dishes. Banh nam and banh bot loc also originate in Hue.

Bun Bo Hue

Bun bo Hue, as the name suggests is a dish that originated in Hue Vietnam. The name itself means Hue beef noodle soup, and yet, it contains pork too. The dish contains a broth made from a base of beef and pork bones. Bun – noodles, in this dish rice vermicelli noodles join the stock just before serving.

The dish may contain shrimp paste and pork blood cubes (optional) and this is likely why this dish isn’t as popular as pho outside Vietnam. Very finely sliced beef completes the meat element of the dish.

A spicy paste gives this soup a kick that is absent in Pho. This paste contains chile (dried and rehydrated) lemongrass, shallot, garlic, fish sauce, sugar and salt. MSG is pretty ubiquitous in Vietnam, some people react badly to some types of MSG so this can be a problem. I do, I’ve learned that it’s differing qualities and brands of MSG, not the ingredient as a whole. A Vietnamese friend told me about this as she had the same problem. You’ll find MSG on the shelves of most grocery stores in Vietnam.

The beef shank (thinly sliced for serving) receives a very fast cooking in the stock just before serving. Finished the dish according to taste with a selection of fresh herbs and leves such as banana blossom, mint, lettuce, and lemon or lime wedges. Lemongrass is a strong flavour in the stock for Bun Bo Hue. In contrast, pho does not normally contain lemongrass. Pho also uses flat noodles not the round noodles in Hue’s most famous dish.

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