Delicious Bun Bo Hue Recipe: Perfect for Spicy Food Lovers!

As a chef who specializes in Vietnamese and Asian cuisine, I have come to appreciate the bold and vibrant flavors that define the region’s dishes. And one of my favorite Vietnamese meals to make is a spicy hue style noodle soup called Bun Bo Hue.

This authentic recipe offers a complex blend of spices, herbs, and heat that will tantalize your taste buds. It’s a hearty and filling meal that is perfect for any occasion— from family dinners to casual get-togethers with friends.

Whether you are new to Vietnamese cuisine or a seasoned foodie, this dish is a must-try. So put on your apron, sharpen your knife, and get ready to embark on a flavor journey that will leave you wanting more. Let’s dive into the world of Bun Bo Hue!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Bun Bo Hue (Spicy Hue Style Noodle Soup With Lemongrass)
Bun Bo Hue (Spicy Hue Style Noodle Soup With Lemongrass)

Why settle for a plain old bowl of noodle soup, when you can indulge in the rich and spicy flavors of Bun Bo Hue? This authentic Vietnamese recipe from the city of Central Vietnam is enough to tickle anyone’s taste buds. Trust me when I say, once you’ve had a flavorful taste of this Hue-style beef noodle soup, there’s no going back.

First and foremost, Spice lovers unite! If you’re a fan of bold and heat-packed flavors, then this Bun Bo Hue is suited perfectly for your palate. It has just the right amount of sizzle that’s guaranteed to leave a lingering warmth in your mouth, and yet never overpowering.

Secondly, if you fancy lemongrass, you’re in for a treat. The dish uses stalks of fresh lemongrass that give it a citrusy fragrance and flavor profile. The broth prepared by simmering beef shanks and pork bones is brimming with depth and richness only heightened by the addition of sambal oelek (hot chili sauce), fermented shrimp paste, garlic powder, chili oil, and black pepper.

Thirdly, topping options galore! Choose from an array of toppings like fresh cilantro or mint leaves, bean sprouts lime juice or white vinegar. Add extra nuoc nam (Vietnamese fish sauce) for added flavors.

Lastly, there’s versatility in this meal. You can easily adapt the dish according to your dietary preferences. Substitute meat options for chicken or shrimp or make it meat-free with pan-fried tofu or vegetable broth version.

In conclusion, Bun Bo Hue is a perfect one-pot meal as it’s filling and has all the nutrients in one bowl. So whether you’re looking to warm up during winter or satisfying the craving for something hearty with a little kick – Bun Bo Hue does not disappoint!

Ingredient List

 If you can handle the heat, this Bun Bo Hue is a must try!
If you can handle the heat, this Bun Bo Hue is a must try!

Let’s talk about the amazing ingredients that come together to form this delicious Bun Bo Hue soup.

Broth Base:

  • Beef pork bones
  • Ham hock
  • Lemongrass stalks
  • Shrimp paste

Spices and Seasonings

  • Sea salt, black pepper, and sugar
  • Fermented shrimp, nuoc nam (fish sauce), sambal oelek or hot chili sauce

Meat, Herbs, and Vegetables

  • Boneless pork loin or beef shanks
  • fresh cilantro, mint, lime wedges
  • bean sprouts


  • Thick rice noodles (bun bo hue)

The broth is the soul of the soup that gives it an umami flavor. It is prepared by simmering beef pork bones, ham hock, lemongrass stalks & shrimp paste. Use fresh spices when possible to bring out the aroma and flavor of the broth.

Next up are the spices and seasonings that add depth of flavor to your soup. You’ll need sea salt, black pepper, sugar for sweetness, fermented shrimp for a savory layer, and fish sauce for its umami taste. Then comes sambal oelek or hot chili sauce for added heat.

We can’t forget the meat, herbs, and vegetables! The boneless pork loin or beef shanks truly make this recipe special. Fresh cilantro & mint are key herbs that provide a burst of freshness with every bite. Don’t forget bean sprouts for crunchiness! Lastly let’s add thick rice noodles or bun bo hue which have a distinct texture.

Pro tip: Make sure to get all your ingredients prepped in advance to help streamline the cooking process!

The Recipe How-To

 A bowl of Bun Bo Hue warms the soul, even on the coldest of days.
A bowl of Bun Bo Hue warms the soul, even on the coldest of days.

Now that you have all the ingredients ready, let’s start cooking this Bun Bo Hue recipe. This recipe serves 6 to 8 people.

Step 1: Prepare the Broth

  1. In a large stockpot, add 6 quarts of water, 3 pounds of pork bones, and a smoked ham hock. Bring it to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and let it simmer for at least four hours.

  2. After four hours, remove pork bones and ham hock from the pot and discard them.

  3. Next, add 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon of salt, ¼ cup fish sauce (nuoc nam), and 3 tablespoons of shrimp paste (belacan). Stir everything together until everything is dissolved.

  4. Then add in two stalks of lemongrass, cut into pieces and pounded, 2 tablespoons of sambal oelek or hot chili sauce, and 2 tablespoons of chili oil.

  5. Let the broth simmer for another hour or until it becomes fragrant and savory.

Step 2: Cook the Meat

  1. In a separate pot, boil water and cook 1 pound boneless pork loin until cooked through. Remove from heat and let it cool off before slicing thinly against the grain.

  2. Pan-fry 1 pound beef shanks and cook until browned on each side. Add hot water covering entirely the meat then simmer for an hour on low heat with a lid on.

  3. De-shell 1 pound shrimp, devein them then put them aside waiting for later use.

Step 3: Prepare the Noodles

  1. Boil water in a separate pot to cook noodles by following instructions suggested on packages.

  2. Rinse cooked noodles under cold water until they are cold enough to handle but still slightly warm. Drain excess water.

  3. Separate the noodles into bowls prepared.

Step 4: Prepare the Toppings and Garnishes

  1. Wash and prepare bean sprouts, fresh cilantro, fresh mint, and lime wedges.

  2. Place a small pile each of bean sprouts, cilantro, and mint on top of noodles in each bowl

Step 5: Serve the Dish

  1. Reheat your broth if it has become cold, scoop up enough broth to pour it over your noodles then add a sliced beef shank or two, slices of the cooked pork loin, and some shrimp to each bowl as desired Enjoy with a spritz of lime!

  2. Serve this spicy Hue style noodle soup immediately with additional toppings on the side. Add more chili sauce (sambal oelek) for a spicier taste based on your preference. Leftover bowls can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Now you know the secrets to create an

Substitutions and Variations

 Add a pop of color and crunch with a side of fresh herbs to accompany your Bun Bo Hue.
Add a pop of color and crunch with a side of fresh herbs to accompany your Bun Bo Hue.

Bun Bo Hue is a highly customizable dish. Depending on your preferences or dietary restrictions, there are several substitutions and variations that you can try.

For vegetarians or vegans, you can simply omit the meat and use vegetable broth instead of beef broth. You can also use tofu as a protein substitute for the pork loin or shrimp paste if desired.

If you don’t have access to ham hock, you may substitute it with smoked bacon or even smoked turkey wings for a slightly different flavor profile.

For those who prefer less spiciness in their soup, adjust the amount of sambal oelek or hot chili sauce according to your taste. You may also opt to remove the seeds from the chili pepper or use milder peppers altogether.

If you’re unable to find fresh lemongrass, you can substitute it with lemongrass paste or dried lemongrass (reconstituted in water), but bear in mind that the flavor might not be as strong as using fresh stalks.

Additionally, feel free to experiment with different herbs such as Thai basil, green onions, or sliced onions to enhance the flavor of your soup.

Overall, Bun Bo Hue is a versatile dish that allows for experimentation and customization. Don’t be afraid to make substitutions based on what you have available and what suits your taste buds!

Serving and Pairing

 The tender slices of beef in this soup will have you wanting more.
The tender slices of beef in this soup will have you wanting more.

Now that you have made the Bun Bo Hue soup, it’s time to serve and enjoy it! This dish is traditionally served piping hot with a side of fresh herbs and vegetables to add to your bowl.

To serve, start by placing a handful of cooked noodles into your serving bowl. Then, add a generous amount of sliced pork loin and beef shank meat on top. Next, carefully pour the spicy and flavorful broth over the noodles and meat. Don’t forget to add some freshly squeezed lime juice!

Now, it’s time to add the fresh herbs and vegetables that will enhance the flavor profile of your soup. Serve bean sprouts, fresh cilantro, and mint leaves alongside thinly sliced jalapeño peppers for an added kick of heat.

Pair the Bun Bo Hue soup with a side dish or appetizer that complements its bold flavors. Vietnamese spring rolls or banh mi sandwiches make great accompaniments to this spicy noodle soup.

For drinks, ice-cold beer or ginger soda are refreshing options that balance out the spice in the soup. Overall, having some cold drinks nearby can soothe your tongue after eating spicy foods.

To get an authentic Vietnamese experience, enjoy your Bun Bo Hue soup while sitting outside with friends and family. Embrace the central Vietnamese culture and take your time enjoying this delicious hue-style noodle soup!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A sprinkle of chili flakes adds an extra kick to this already spicy dish.
A sprinkle of chili flakes adds an extra kick to this already spicy dish.

One of the beauties of bun bo hue is that it can be prepared ahead of time and stored for later consumption. When cooked, the flavors mingle together and develop over time, which enhances the taste.

If you’re planning on serving this Vietnamese beef noodle soup for a dinner party or gathering, here’s how you can make and store it in advance:

1. Cook the broth with pork bones and ham hock ahead of time, strain out the solids and refrigerate the broth once it cools down.

2. Cook the noodles separately and rinse them under cold water to remove any excess starch that might cause them to stick together.

3. Store the broth and noodles separately in the refrigerator until needed.

When you’re ready to serve, quickly reheat the broth on the stove over medium heat until heated through, then stir in all other ingredients, including thinly sliced meat or shrimp, just before serving.

If you have any leftovers after your meal, store them as follows for optimal freshness:

1. Store leftover broth and noodles separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator.

2. Before reheating, bring the broth back to a boil on the stovetop.

3. Add additional lime juice, nuoc nam, chili sauce or spices as desired while reheating.

4. Reheat noodles separately under hot water (not boiling water).

Bun bo hue can also be frozen for up to six months if stored properly in an airtight container. To reheat from frozen state, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before heating in a pot or microwave.

By following these simple tips for making ahead, storing and reheating this spicy lemongrass-infused beef noodle soup properly, you can enjoy it anytime without degrading its unique flavor profile.

Tips for Perfect Results

 The aroma of lemongrass and spices is a tantalizing invitation to this delicious soup.
The aroma of lemongrass and spices is a tantalizing invitation to this delicious soup.

To create the perfect bun bo hue, a few key tips can make all the difference. As a chef specializing in Vietnamese and Asian cuisine, I have mastered the art of preparing this dish and can offer the following advice:

First, always use fresh ingredients. Fresh cilantro and mint, bean sprouts, and lime wedges are just some of the key elements that add zip and zing to this dish.

Secondly, use good quality shrimp paste as it is the base ingredient for the soup stock. Shrimp paste is a flavor enhancer for this dish, it lends a distinct umami flavor to the broth that can’t compare to anything else.

It’s essential to sauté the garlic and lemongrass in oil before you combine with other ingredients because it helps release their full fragrance and flavor into your broth.

When selecting pork loin for your bun bo hue, try to choose one that has a little fat content as it will help enhance the broth’s taste.

Be sure to season your broth well with sugar, sea salt, fish sauce, sambal oelek, hot chili sauce or black pepper. This will help bring out all of the unique flavors in this spicy vietnamese beef noodle soup.

Lastly, do not overcook your meat or noodles. Your protein should be tender and your noodles should be cooked al dente so they do not become too soft in your broth but instead maintain structure during consumption!


As with any recipe, it is natural to have some questions or concerns. In this section, I will answer the most frequently asked questions about making Bun Bo Hue at home. From ingredient substitutions to serving suggestions, I’ve got you covered. So let’s dive into the FAQs and make sure you can confidently prepare and enjoy this delicious Vietnamese dish!

What is Bun Bo Hue broth made of?

One of the most famous dishes within the Huế region and neighboring cities is a savoury noodle soup called bún bò. This popular soup is made by slowly cooking beef bones and shank with lemongrass to create a rich broth. To add further depth of flavor, a combination of fermented shrimp sauce and sugar is used for seasoning, while spicy chili oil is added later during the cooking process.

What is the difference between Pho and bun Hue?

When it comes to Vietnamese cuisine, there are two popular beef-based noodle soup dishes: Pho and Bun Bo Hue. While both dishes involve beef and noodles, there are notable differences that set them apart. A typical Beef Pho uses a clear beef broth and is eaten with flat rice noodles. Meanwhile, Bun Bo Hue is made from a combination of beef and pork bones, and is served with thicker round vermicelli noodles, which have a similar texture to spaghetti.

What does Bun Bo Hue mean in English?

Originating from Hue in Vietnam, Bun Bo Hue is a hearty noodle soup that features tender beef and savory broth.

What is Bun Bo Hue in Chinese?

The term “Bún bò Huế” refers to a type of noodle soup that includes beef and originates from Huế province.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, Bun Bo Hue is a delicious and flavorful dish that will transport your taste buds straight to the exotic flavors of Vietnam. With the perfect blend of lemongrass, shrimp paste, and other traditional Vietnamese ingredients, this spicy beef noodle soup is guaranteed to become a staple in your kitchen.

Not only is Bun Bo Hue easy to make and customizable to your preferences, but it also offers a unique alternative to other Vietnamese noodle soups like Pho. Impress your friends and family with your newfound expertise in Vietnamese cuisine by whipping up this authentic Bun Bo Hue recipe.

So go ahead and take a culinary adventure to the city central region of Vietnam with Bun Bo Hue! Trust me, once you taste it, you’ll be hooked on this spicy and flavorful Vietnamese specialty.

Bun Bo Hue (Spicy Hue Style Noodle Soup With Lemongrass)

Bun Bo Hue (Spicy Hue Style Noodle Soup With Lemongrass) Recipe

My parents are from Hue. Although growing up in Sai Gon, I am a big fan of this noodle soup. Cooking and eating bring me back memories of the old time
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Prep Time 3 hrs
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Vietnamese
Servings 1 bowl
Calories 351.5 kcal


  • 1 lb ham hock
  • 6 stalks lemongrass, crushed and sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons nuoc nam
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons shrimp paste (mam ruoc)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 ounces boneless sirloin
  • 4 ounces boneless pork loin
  • 16 ounces rice noodles, cooked
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 4 sprigs Thai holy basil (regular basil ok)
  • 4 sprigs of fresh mint
  • 4 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • 4 teaspoons sambal oelek or 4 teaspoons hot chili sauce
  • 4 -8 fresh Thai red chili peppers (optional)
  • 1 lime, cut into quarters


  • Bring 2 1/2 quarts water to a boil; add ham hocks and lemongrass.
  • Skim constantly for 10 minutes then cover the pan, reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours.
  • Strain the broth, reserving ham hocks if you desire them.
  • Dilute the shrimp paste in 1/4 cup of cold water and set aside for 10 minutes.
  • Add nuoc mam, shrimp paste solution, sugar, salt and pepper,sirloin, and pork loin to the broth and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until meat is cooked and tender; remove meat.
  • Thinly slice meats into small pieces.
  • To serve, place a portion of noodles in serving bowl,top with some bean sprouts,pork, beef, and some ham hock (if using),and ladle the broth over; add herbs,chili sauce,chilies, and lime juice to taste.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 257gCalories: 351.5kcalCarbohydrates: 66.4gProtein: 11.3gFat: 3.7gSaturated Fat: 1.2gCholesterol: 23.8mgSodium: 1017.4mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1.8g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Asian, One-Dish Meal, Vietnamese
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