Bun Bo Hue (Spicy Beef Noodle Soup)

Hi loves!

I’m going to be very honest about my cooking. Dead honest. I beyond suck at measurements. And why is that? Because my mother never owned a measuring cup or spoon in her life! In the last 18 years since I started cooking, I did everything by taste, feel and memory. As my mom aged, I noticed her cooking changed too. It dawned on me this past couple of years that her palate shifted, and this means that one day mine will too. God forbid my memory slips before that! The thought of having to jot things down while trying to whip up a meal for my family and rushing back to my meetings legit heightens my heart rate. It’s that tedious for me. I’m thinking “Ain’t nobody got time for that!!” But I finally did it. WOAHHH. I deserve a major pat on the back!

Nothing is ever really mine. I think we all take a little bit here and there and then we just sorta wing it. Or maybe, that’s just me. I am the queen of winging my family’s plated meals. But I have to say, everything I learned did start from my mama. And so, this section on the blog I dedicate to my mother, Hanh Ngo.

Anyway, I know my followers have waited for this. I am so so sorry my loves, Cali is crazy busy! But I am trying, really!! I might have waited too long since nowadays social media platforms and YouTube carries a plethora of recipes, but I’ll eat my fingers off when I’m withered and gray without a story or a recipe to share.

But I am warning you, this is NOT a food and cooking blog and so I won’t have photos of the process (again- “Ain’t nobody got time for that LOL) but you will see the end result! You may find yourself wondering why I chose one method versus the other, or maybe I skipped through a couple of steps. Fact of the matter is, I love good food but I never learned the chemistry or the interactions between the bio and non-bio portion of cooking. I became a mother and wife at a young age, and there I was at the crossroads of a 20 something year-old figuring out if I was going to create meals for my loves or be a professional take out caller for the rest of my life. I chose to cook.

I spent my childhood watching my mama hunched over the stove with 3 pots of scathing hot soup, bubbling over the rim, and no matter how hard times were, we always had amazing meals. I owe it to my parents for these heart-warming memories. It’s been 15 years since my dad passed and we rarely have sit-down dinners as we did growing up. My siblings and I have our own lives, and our own kids to feed. But every chance we get, we make it a point to throw these big dinners- sometimes we even take it up a notch and conduct cook offs. It is over good food where laughter is found, and stories are shared. It was one of the biggest ways my mom showed us her love. It was the Vietnamese way. And so, I will share what I learned to the world, while thanking my mother for all she has taught us. Cheers loves!

“Hue vermicelli or Spicy Beef Rice Vermicelli Soup (“Bún bò Huế”) comes out as one of the top iconic dishes you should-not-miss in Hue. Its main ingredients consist of rice vermicelli (“bún”), beef shank (“bò bắp”), pork knuckle (“giò heo”), seasoned beef paste (“mọc bò”), cooked pig blood (“huyết heo”) and spicy broth. In Hue, it is simply called of “Bún bò” or “Bún bò giò heo” to refer to main ingredients of the dish. But as it was introduced to the other areas throughout Vietnam and became famous for its fabulous taste, people started to call it of “Bún bò Huế” to define its origin.

On a trip to Vietnam in 2014, the world famous chef Anthony Bourdain emphasized that “In my way of thinking, in the hierarchy of delicious, slurpy stuff in a bowl, Bun Bo Hue is at the very top.” – VNSPOLORER


INGREDIENTS: ( 12 Medium Bowls)


  • 4 lb pork bones
  • 4 lb beef bones
  • 3 lb beef shank
  • 7 liters water
  • 2 lbs pork shank
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup rock sugar
  • 3 tbs fine shrimp paste
  • 1 cup of Phu Quoc Fish Sauce
  • 12 stalks of lemongrass, using only the white and green ends, bruised ( you can tie it up but I don’t)
  • 2 yellow onion, peeled


  • 3/4 cup oil ( canola oil)
  • 3 tbs paprika
  • 2 tbs minced shallot


  • 2 tbs Mexican chili pepper flakes
  • 3 tbs fine shrimp paste
  • ½ cup of oil
  • 2 tbs of paprika
  • 2 tbs minced shallot
  • 1 tbs of minced garlic


  • bun bo hue noodles, cooked al dente according to directions and drained
  • precooked pork blood
  • bean sprouts
  • cha hue or cha lua
  • sliced cabbage
  • sliced banana blossom
  • rau ram
  • bean sprouts
  • fine shrimp paste

CLEAN THE BONES PLEASE! Find a large stock pot. I would have to say a 10 qt should be fine. Add in the all the pork bones and the beef bones. Make sure you have enough water to cover it. I add some salt to this (a few light shakes is fine!) It helps bring the water to boil faster. Let it fully boil and then dump it in the sink. Wash off all the gunkiness ( that’s not a word, I know lol) and place it back into the pot. Fill up the water to about 2-3 inches from the rim.

YUMMY BROTH: Add in all the bones, beef shank, pork bones, pork shank, lemongrass, whole onion, shrimp paste, salt, and rock sugar and allow it to boil. Try to use a strainer to occasionally remove any gunk that rises to the top. After that, you will need to reduce the heat to just a calm simmer. The pork shank should take about 1 hr to cook–when the skin is tender, remove and set aside. The 3lbs of beef shank takes about 2.5-3 hrs to cook. I usually poke the shank to see if there is blood oozing out of it. Usually when it’s cooked, you don’t have pressure pushing back as inserting the fork or chopstick should be with ease. Remove this and place it in water to avoid any dryness or browning discoloration.

After removing the shanks, continue to simmer the broth under low heat partially covered for at least another 1 hour. If you want to get the full-bodied broth, you can simmer for over 5 hours. After you reach 5 hours, you can remove the bones, and strain the broth if you like. Otherwise, you can leave it as is. I usually let the soup settle down before I taste it again in case I need to season some more.

THE PAPRIKA FLAVORING OIL: Most people use annatto oil or seeds, but my mom always taught me to use paprika. I don’t cook Mexican chili in this oil because not everyone likes that kick. So the oil here is really for the fragrance and flavoring. In the hot oil I mix a packet of paprika until it becomes an amberish-red. Then in a in large sautee pan, I add garlic, minced shallots and then I sautee it on medium for a few minutes until the mixture becomes fragrant. Once it’s removed from the heat, you can keep it in a storage for future uses. I throw it out after 2 months.

THAT SPICY SAUCE ON THE SIDE: So this isn’t something that would make or break the dish because the real flavor is found in the broth. I mean after hours of cooking the bones in shrimp paste and lemongrass, you will get the best array of flavors. This is really similar to the soup flavoring oil, except this is where I have a lot of fun adding the Mexican Chili Flakes. Sometimes I take it to the next level and add in Thai Chili or Habanero. I sautee it on medium for a few minutes until the mixture becomes fragrant. BE CAREFUL, it’s spicy! I have, on a few occasions, choked from the steam and screamed bloody murder when I wiped my eyes. But that’s just because I’m a klutz—I’m sure you are better than that.

THE OTHER GOODIES FOR YOUR BOWL: This is the annoying part. The part that I usually ask my husband to help with LOL. You have to slice beef shank thinly, cube pork blood, slice the cha. Prepare the noodles, shred the cabbages and banana blossoms. The meat should always be covered because it quickly darkens from the air. I keep the bean sprouts and the banana blossoms in water to keep it from browning.

VOILA IT’S DONE: Add everything together! At this point, I have already carefully poured in my paprika sauce mix. As science would have it, the oil will naturally float to the top. Let it simmer. The bowls are created in this order: noodles, meat laid out nicely in the bowl, the greens and then I ladle the soup over. Try and skim the top red oil from the pot and pour some over your bowl of BBH so that you can have all the vibrant colors in your bowl. I’m a bit of a snoot when it comes to that. Ok, so it’s done! ENJOY!

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