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4.82 from 22 votes

Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue)

Bun Bo Hue is a Vietnamese spicy beef noodle soup packed with flavour. If you love Pho, and you love a bit of spice the definitely give Bun Bo Hue a try.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 30 mins
Course: Asian, Main, Noodles
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 1801kcal
Author: Joyce | Pups with Chopsticks


Broth Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs beef bones
  • 1 ½ lbs pork hocks (cut into smaller pieces, ask your butcher to cut it for you)
  • 1 lb beef shank (or beef brisket)
  • 12 cups water

Broth Spices

  • 1 onion
  • 4 stalks lemongrass
  • 1-2 whole star anise (optional, but highly recommended)
  • 1 yellow lump rock sugar (3cmx2cm, or 2 tablespoons brown sugar)
  • 4 slices ginger
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves (optional, but highly recommended. Double the lemongrass stalks if you skip this)
  • 1 ½   tablespoons shrimp paste (tweak up for a more flavourful broth)
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce (tweak up, for a more flavourful broth)
  • salt to taste (start with ¼ tablespoon of salt and add up if you want it more salty)

Sate Chilli Ingredients

  • 7 tablespoons oil (flavourless oils like canola, vegetable, peanut)
  • 1 tablespoon annatto seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chili flakes (add more to make it more spicy, less to make it less spicy)
  • 1 tablespoon lemongrass (finely minced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely minced)
  • 3 shallots (finely minced)

Noodles & Meats

  • 1 package thick round rice vermicelli noodles (thick like spaghetti)
  • 1 package Vietnamese pork sausage (Cha Lua)
  • Cooked beef shank from the broth (sliced)
  • Cooked pork hocks from the both

Toppings & Garnishes (Pick and Choose!)

  • Thai Basil (or mint)
  • Green Onions (finely chopped)
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Lime Wedges
  • Birdseye Chilli
  • Thinly Sliced Onions
  • Deep Fried Onions or Shallots
  • Thinly sliced Banana Blossoms
  • Cilantro
  • Thinly Sliced Red Cabbage


Preparation - Cleaning the Meat

  • In a large pot, add cold water into it and add all the meats.
  • Set the stove to medium, to medium high heat and boil for 15-20 minutes until you see all the gross bits and frothy blood on the surface of the water.
  • Discard the water and clean out the pot.
    Alternatively, instead of discarding the water, you can skim out all the blood and fat with a spoon or strainer and continue to use the water for the broth. Your broth won't be as clear, but it will have a bit more flavor.
  • Using your fingers, gently clean the meat off with water and remove any scum residue that is on it.
  • Add the meat back into the pot

Making the Broth - Adding in the Spices

  • Remove any dried outer leaves from the lemongrass and cut off the dried tips at the top. We want to keep the bottom ⅔ of the stalk. With a blunt object, smash the lemongrass stalks to release the oils. Keep the lemongrass intact and add to the pot
  • Peel the onion and cut it in half, peel the garlic and keep it intact so you can easily fish it out later when the broth is done. Put them in the pot.
  • Add in the ginger slices, sugar, lime leaves, star anise into the pot
  • Add in 12 cups of water and set the heat to medium low and keep it at a low rolling boil.
  • Mix the shrimp paste with ¼ cup of water and add it into the pot.
  • Add in the fish sauce (add in half the amount of fish sauce first and then do a taste test to make sure it is not overly salty. If it needs more salt, add in the rest of the fish sauce.
  • Set a timer for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  • You can make the sate chili sauce while you are waiting for the broth to cook and add it into the broth as soon as the sauce has cooled. (Sate Chili Sauce steps below)
  • Once 1 hour and 30 minutes passes, remove the beef shank and set it aside covered for use later
  • If your broth reduced a lot, add 2-3 cups of water back to the broth
  • Set the timer for 1 hour and 30 minutes again and cook the broth for a total of 3 hours. It doesn't hurt to cook this more than 3 hours though! :)
  • When the broth is done, discard the lime leaves, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, star anise and onion
  • Do a taste test of the broth, to make sure it has enough salt. Add additional fish sauce to the broth for more flavour.
  • Remove the pork hock and beef bones and set it aside covered for use later

Making the Sate Chili Sauce

  • In a sauce pan, set the stove to medium heat and add in the annatto seeds and stir it for 3-5 minutes until the oil turns a bright red color. Discard the annatto seeds
  • Add in the chili flakes, lemongrass, garlic and shallots and toast it in the oil for 10 minutes
  • Turn off the heat and let the oil cool
  • Once the oil has cooled, add it to the broth

Prepping the Noodles and Meat & Building the Bun Bo Hue Noodle Bowl

  • Make the noodles according to the package. To ensure you have springy bouncy noodles and not over cooked mushy noodles, subtract 1 minute from the directions and try the noodles. If the noodles are still hard in the center, add 1 more minute to the cooking time and taste test again
  • Run the noodles under cold water once it is done cooking to remove the extra starches and to stop the cooking process.
  • [Optional] I like to mix 2 teaspoons of oil into the noodles while I am running cold water through it to prevent them from sticking together later on
  • Thinly slice the beef shank, Vietnamese sausage (discard the banana leaf if it's wrapped in it) and chop the pork shank and add it all to the bowl
  • Add in the noodles and the broth
  • Add in garnishes and toppings and enjoy hot! :)


  • Be careful with light coloured clothing around the oil after you infuse the annatto seeds into it and it turns red. It may dye your clothing.
  • This recipe doubles, triples, quadruples well. You can make a big batch and freeze it for another day. Just make sure not to add the Sate Chilli Mix into the broth, that doesn't freeze well. Make the Sate Chilli Mix, fresh the day you want to have it. It only takes a few minutes.


Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 1801kcal | Carbohydrates: 136g | Protein: 72g | Fat: 116g | Sodium: 2689mg | Sugar: 20g