Hue Beef Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue) – The Pride Of Hue Cuisine

Referring to Hue cuisine without mentioning Hue beef noodle soup is a mistake. This dish is renowned throughout the three regions of Vietnam and around the world for its distinctive flavor that represents the former imperial city. It is one of the prideful dishes of the people of Hue. In this article, let’s explore with Foodtourhue the characteristics as well as the interesting stories surrounding Hue beef noodle soup.

Introducing Hue Beef Noodle Soup (Bun bo Hue)

Hue Beef Noodle Soup has the Vietnamese name “Bun bo Hue”, this is not only a specialty of Hue but also of Vietnamese cuisine.

The wonderful combination of rich broth mixed with a little pungent of chili and the special taste of fish sauce and the aroma of lemongrass has created an irresistible taste for diners to enjoy at the first time.

The famous of this dish exists not only in Vietnam but also all over the world. Evidence of this is that Hue Beef Noodle Soup was listed in the Top 100 Asian culinary dishes by the Asian Record Organization. Additionally, the renowned American chef Anthony Bourdain once praised: “Bun Bo Hue is the best soup in the world that I have ever tasted.”

Hue beef noodle soup
Hue beef noodle soup (Bun bo Hue) –

The Origin of Hue Beef Noodle Soup (Bun bo Hue)

For a long time, there has been a story passed down that in the past, some people from outside the region followed Lord Nguyen Hoang to the South to settle down and there was a group of people came to settle in the ruined ancient Cham towers.

Among them, there was a beautiful young woman who was admired by many people. She chose to make noodles and was loved by many people, but also hated by many jealous people.                                             

When the area suffered from a crop failure, some guys spread the news that “the spirit rebuked her for bringing out the pearls of Heaven to suck, rub, and crush to make vermicelli”

The angry villagers forced her to give up making noodles and she left, accepting being expelled from the village to pursue her profession.

With a gentle and kind nature. She was helped by many people, she stopped in Van Cu village, established a career and passed on the profession of making noodles to the next generation. She cooked beef into a broth, adding chilli, shrimp sauce and other spices to create a broth with a distinct taste. Since then, Hue beef noodle soup was born, preserved and developed to this day.

Over time, Hue beef vermicelli today has been transformed into more diverse varieties such as pork vermicelli, crab cake, but still has the typical flavor of Hue.

Ingredients and how to cook Hue beef noodle soup (Bun bo Hue)

Nowadays it is not difficult for you to enjoy a bowl of Hue beef noodle soup, because the dish appears in all provinces of Vietnam, but even so, this is still a dish that anyone coming to Hue still wants to try to enjoy the main flavor origin.

So what ingredients does a bowl of Bun Bo Hue need? And how to cook Hue beef noodle soup?

Hue Beef Noodle Soup is a dish with high nutritional value, good for health, and is popular in all regions. However, not everyone can cook this food while keeping its typical and traditional flavor. To successfully cook this dish, it is necessary to be really meticulous right from the selection of ingredients, seasoning to the processing stage.

Similar to any noodle soup or “pho”, the broth is the key factor that determines the rich and flavorful taste of the dish, and Hue beef noodle soup is no exception. The broth is the soul of the dish, and making a pot of broth for Hue-style beef vermicelli soup is not a simple task. The general standard for the broth is to be sweet, clear, and have a mild, soothing taste of meat bones.

In particular, people from Hue usually add a little bit of shrimp paste to the broth, which is a unique type of shrimp paste from Hue and a traditional flavor that is difficult to imitate. The right amount of shrimp paste will create a faint aroma and a strong, sweet taste for the dish. Lemongrass essential oil, which has a strong fragrance, helps to neutralize the smell of shrimp paste. When combined with pepper, shallots, and fish sauce, the broth becomes mild and enticingly aromatic, attracting diners to savor it.

Besides the broth, vermicelli is also the factor that makes the difference of this food. Hue vermicelli is kneaded by hand, so they have a larger shape than Northern and Nam vermicelli. The raw material for making vermicelli is rice flour mixed with filtered flour in a standard ratio so that the vermicellis has a moderate toughness.

Eating with a bowl of Hue beef noodle soup, there is always a plate of raw vegetables including raw white bean sprouts, herbs, some thinly sliced ​​banana flowers, slices of fresh lemon… creating a bowl of Hue beef noodle soup with enough spicy flavor, fragrant, sweet, fatty and also colorful with the green of vegetables, the red of chili, the yellow of crab cakes and the white of vermicelli.

Eating Hue beef noodle soup with vegetables

Culture of enjoying Bun Bo in Hue

Hue beef noodle soup is a dish that can be enjoyed at any time of the day, but the people of Hue often have the habit of eating Bun Bo in the morning.

The best Bun Bo Hue is not found in fancy restaurants, but can often be found in street  stalls early in the morning or at some traditional eateries.

And there is one special thing that you may only see in Hue, which is that many people in Hue eat Bun Bo with “cơm nguội” (rice was cooked last night)

It might sound strange to many people, but this is still a habit that many people in Hue have been keeping for a long time.

Hue people have the habit of combining Bun Bo with “cơm nguội” because in the past, their lives were extremely difficult and they often didn’t have enough food. Therefore, they mixed “cơm nguội” with the broth of Bun Bo to make it more filling. From there, the habit of eating beef noodles with “cơm nguội” has become familiar and popular in the culinary culture of Hue people.

Hue beef noodle soup with "cơm nguội"
Hue beef noodle soup with “cơm nguội” – Photo: foody

Today, the lives of the people have improved significantly, so the habit of combining Bun Bo with “cơm nguội” has become less common. However, there are still some stalls that maintain this tradition and are willing to serve cold rice for customers who want it.

Currently, visitors to Hue can enjoy Hue beef noodle soup at any time of the day and at many different types of restaurants, from casual dining restaurants to luxurious ones. However, a typical and popular culture in the Hue ancient capital is the traditional bun bo stalls, which have existed for more than a hundred years. Most of these stalls are sold by grandparents and mothers in the form of family tradition, so they still retain the taste and quality of delicious, rich and pure Hue noodles. The scene of warm and smoky bun bo, appearing peacefully on street corners, makes diners feel more clearly the beauty of culinary culture with unique values only found in Hue.

It can be said that a dish that combines spicy, aromatic, sweet, and savory flavors like Hue beef noodle soup is the typical representative of the soul of Hue cuisine. If you have a chance to visit the ancient land of Hue, you must try the flavorful and fragrant taste of this specialty food.

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