Hue Beef Noodle Soup

Hue Beef Noodle Soup
The day in South East Asia starts very early as people try to enjoy as much as possible the milder morning weather.    In the streets of the villages and even large cities you can see people gathering around stalls in witch tall caldrons of beef broth bubble waiting for the first patrons.

Generous ladles of the spiced broth are poured into bowls of rice noodles and mixed with thin slices of beef and chilli oil.  

A hand full of fresh herbs such as vietnamese mint and thai basil, lemon hedges and another handful of bean sprouts served aside, complete the filling and comfortable breakfast meal.

Around Vietnam the soup is most often found spiced with cinnamon, the traditional "Pho Bo".   The recipe I am sharing today is from Hue, central and it's main difference is the predominant flavour of lemon grass.  Hue is the former capital of Vietnam during Nguyen dynasty and it's particular cooking style is associated with the style of  the former royal court.

When serving, the beef should be almost raw, just slightly cooked by the heat of the broth but you can always cook it a bit more to your tasting.   If you are fussy about pig's less noble pieces, replace the pigs trotter by other pig's bones with a good amount meat scraps.

Enjoy it!

Preparing the Lemon Grass


Bun Bo Hue (Hue Beef Noodle Soup)

Serves: 4  |  Costs: $$ |  Difficulty: Easy |  Time: 2h
Author: Kangaroo Hue Restaurant plus Rachel's changes during the trip around Vietnam


  • 500 Kg Pig's trotter (feet) 
  • 500g Beef Bones with meat scraps
  • 500g Beef cut is very small pieces divided in 4 portions
  • 5 Lemon grass stalks bruised with a rolling pin or mortar and pestle to release its fragrance.
  • 1 Tablespoon powdered chicken stock
  • 2 Teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 1 Teaspoon sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon shrimp paste (don't add it if you can't have it)
  • 1 Yellow onion finely diced
  • 1 Small garlic clove diced
  • 4 Tablespoons spring onion sliced
  • 1 Teaspoon chilli powder (optional)  
  • 2 Tablespoons  vegetable oil (if using chilli powder) 
  • 8 Cups water
  • 200g Fresh Bun Hue (thick vermicelli)
  • 1 Lemon cut in wedges 
  • A small bunch of vietnamese mint or thai basil and bean sprouts to serve
  • 1 Banana blossom finely chopped (if you can find it)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Annatto (Urucum) powder (optional)


  1. Put the beef bones, the water, the lemon grass and the chicken powder in a large pot  and bring it to boil over high heat.   
  2. Reduce to low heat and let it simmer for about 1-2 hours until the liquid has been reduced to half volume.    Remove scums while cooking.
  3. Heat a dash of oil in a skillet over high heat,  fry the onion and the garlic until soft.
  4. Add black pepper, annatto powder, the fish sauce and the fried onions and garlic to the broth.    Let it simmer for about 10 minutes more. 
  5. Put the chilli powder and the oil in a ladle and use the heat of the simmering broth to heat the mixture for a couple of minutes.    
  6. Pour the chilli oil into the broth.   
  7. Distribute the fresh noodles in 4 bowls 
  8. Put 1/4 of the beef in the ladle and with a couple of tablespoons of the broth.    Use the heat of the broth to slightly cook the beef.    Spread the beef on the top of the noodles.   Pour a couple of ladles of the broth over the noodles and repeat the procedure with the remaining bowls.
  9. Divide any broth leftover between the four bowls and sprinkle the spring onion on the top.
  10. Serve with the Vietnamese mint, lemon wedges banana blossom and bean sprouts aside - they are to be mixed with the soup to taste.

The Untamed Cook

Rachel Elich is a globetrotting, computer engineer, project manager, designer, untamed cook extraordinaire who backpacks around the world. Along the way on adventures, Rachel has adopted and incorporated international influences into all aspects of her creative work endeavours.

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