Bún bò Hué is a spicy noodle soup from, as you may have guessed, the city of Hué in central Vietnam. The recipe I used comes from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen, and is incidentally the photograph on the cover of the book.
This one was pretty hit and miss: Erin pretty well hated it and refused to eat it the second night, whilst very surprisingly Nate loved it; I was somewhere in between. I found the chili sauce to be essential in covering up the flavor of the shrimp sauce which I was not very fond of. Which is what makes Nate’s love of the dish even more remarkable, because he currently doesn’t like spicy food and bore the full brunt of the shrimp sauce funk. When I was seasoning the broth with the shrimp sauce he remarked at the time how he didn’t like the smell of it and I told him that sometimes things that don’t smell good taste good. Fortunately he kept an open mind and was willing to taste it.
Finding the ingredients definitely requires a trip to an Asian grocery store, and I was lucky to be able to find all the ingredients that were called for including beef shank, boneless pork leg, fresh ham hock and the aforementioned fine shrimp sauce.
It’s not terribly time consuming to make (five hours or so), and making the broth a day ahead aids in removing the layer of fat released by the beef bones. My broth didn’t turn out as deeply colored as other images I’ve seen of the dish, and I can only help but think that this is because I was not able to obtain a good sear on the meat because the onions and annato seeds were scorching on the bottom of the potand I just had to start adding water so my broth didn’t taste burnt.
If it weren’t for Erin I’d probably make this again, seasoning with perhaps a little less shrimp sauce and taking more care in the browning of the meat. Perhaps if Nate asks for it again and Erin’s out of town.