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Bun Bo Hue

While pho may grab the limelight, there’s much to love about the lesser-known bun bo hue. This robust and satisfying soup from the central Vietnamese city of Hue hits all the right notes: sour, salty, sweet, and spicy. Its meaty broth and thick glossy noodles make it the perfect main-course soup.


  • 2 lb. large beef short ribs
  • 1-1/2 lb. pork butt, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh lemongrass
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/3 packed cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 2 Tbs. chili oil; more for serving
  • 2 tsp. annatto seeds, ground
  • 1 cup finely chopped shallots (from about 7 large shallots)
  • 1 Tbs. shrimp paste
  • 1 10.7-oz. package bun bo hue noodles or vermicelli, cooked according to package directions and tossed with sesame oil
  • Thai basil leaves, for serving
  • Thinly sliced red cabbage, for serving
  • Sliced sweet onion, for serving
  • Sesame oil, for drizzling

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 720
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 290
  • Fat (g): 33
  • Saturated Fat (g): 10
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 8
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 14
  • Cholesterol (mg): 120
  • Sodium (mg): 300
  • Carbohydrates (g): 62
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Sugar (g): 14
  • Protein (g): 40


  • Generously season the ribs and pork with salt and pepper. Heat 3 Tbs. of the peanut oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot over medium-high heat, and working in batches, sear the meat until golden brown on all sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a large plate or bowl. Lower the heat to medium low. Add the ginger, garlic, and lemongrass, and cook, stirring often, for about 1 minute. Add the vinegar, stirring to scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot, then add the sugar, stock, 6 cups of water, and the meat and any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer for 2 to 3 hours, until the meat is fork-tender. Turn the meat occasionally, and skim the broth if necessary. Transfer the meat to a large plate, and strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, skimming off any excess fat. Wipe out the pot, and return the broth to the pot.
  • Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the remaining 1 Tbs. peanut oil over medium heat. Add the chili oil, annatto seeds, shallots, and shrimp paste, and cook, stirring often, until the shallots begin to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the shallot mixture and 1/2 tsp. salt to the broth, and simmer, uncovered, for another 30 minutes.
  • Shred the meat into bite-size pieces, discarding any excess fat; add to the broth, season to taste with salt, and keep warm. Divide the noodles among 4 to 6 large, shallow bowls. Add some of the broth and meat, and garnish with the basil, cabbage, and onions. Drizzle with sesame oil, and serve the with chili oil on the side.


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