Hue is famous for its spicy beef noodle soup, known to the locals as 'bun bo Hue'. This recipe will make more broth than you need but any excess can be stored for 3 days in the refrigerator or frozen for up to 3 months.
- 4 tbsp shrimp paste
- 500 ml (2 cups) hot water
- 2 kg piece pork leg meat, skin on, cut into 2 equal-sized pieces
- 2 kg piece gravy (shin) beef, cut into 2 equal-sized pieces
- 500 ml (2 cups) fish sauce
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 cloves garlic, bruised
- 2 white onions, thinly sliced into rings
- 1 stick cinnamon, lightly pounded
- 4 cloves
- 2 tbsp cracked black pepper
- 12 litres water
- 4 tbsp rock salt
- 2 kg oxtail
- 2 stalks lemongrass, bruised
- 1 bunch spring onions, white stems lightly bashed, green part finely sliced
- 2 small bunches Vietnamese mint
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 500 g thick rice vermicelli, cooked as per packet instructions
Shrimp paste and chilli sauce
- 125 ml (½ cup) vegetable oil
- 100 g (½ cup) minced garlic
- 2 stems lemongrass, pale part only, finely chopped
- 25 g (¼ cup) chilli flakes
- 125 ml (½ cup) chilli oil
- 2 tbsp mam ruoc (Vietnamese fermented shrimp paste)
- lemon wedges
- sliced chilli
- bean sprouts
- fish sauce
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Standing time: 1 hour
1. Dissolve the shrimp paste in the hot water and stand for 1 hour. Strain the liquid and reserve, discarding the sediment.
2. Meanwhile, place the pork and beef pieces in a large container, pour over half the fish sauce and stand for 1 hour, turning occasionally.
3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over low-medium-high heat. Add the garlic and two-thirds of the onion and cook until soft and translucent. Place the softened onion and garlic in a piece of muslin (cheesecloth) along with the cinnamon, cloves and black pepper, tie into a bundle and secure with kitchen string.
4. Place 12 litres of water in a stockpot or very large saucepan. Add the rock salt, oxtail and the remaining fish sauce and bring to the boil. Skim the impurities from the stock as they rise to the surface. Once boiled, reduce the heat to low and simmer, skimming regularly for 30 minutes.
5. Add the beef, pork leg, lemongrass, the white part of the spring onions, half the Vietnamese mint and the muslin bag to the pan and return to the boil. Reduce the heat to low again and simmer for 1½ hours, skimming regularly. Carefully remove all the meat from the stock and set aside.
6. Add the shrimp paste liquid and sugar and gently simmer for another hour or until reduced by half. Strain the soup through a fine sieve layered with muslin into another saucepan and allow to cool. The broth can be stored for 3 days in the fridge or frozen for up to 3 months.
7. For the shrimp paste and chilli sauce, heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat and fry the garlic until light brown. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the lemongrass and chilli flakes to the oil and fry for 2 minutes until lightly browned. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chilli oil to stop the cooking process. Add the fried garlic back to the oil along with the shrimp paste and mix well to combine. Set aside.
8. To serve, pour 400 ml of stock per person into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Thinly slice the beef and pork. Place a handful vermicelli noodles into each serving bowl and add 3 slices each of beef and pork and 1 piece of oxtail. Put 2 teaspoons of shrimp paste and chilli sauce on top of the meats and pour over the boiling stock. Garnish each bowl with the remaining onion rings and the chopped spring onion greens.
9. Serve with lemon wedges, chilli, bean sprouts, the remaining Vietnamese mint, fish sauce and the remaining shrimp paste with chilli sauce for dipping.
Catch Luke Nguyen on the tracks dishing up Vietnamese fare in the brand-new series, Luke Nguyen's Railway Vietnam.