If you know anything about Vietnamese food, you probably have heard of Phở, but it may be slightly less likely that you have heard of bún bò Huế. If phở is that comfortable mother who keeps you warm on a gloomy day, then bún bò Huế is that awesome aunt who sits you in front of a roaring fireplace and maybe offers you some chili peppers. Chances are you’d want to introduce your friends to your mom before the aunt, because you kind of need to work up to that.
The reason I say this is because bún bò Huế requires a bit more of a tolerant palate than phở. Phở’s broth has most of its flavor come from a good stock of bones and several spices heated for a long period to draw out the flavor of the bones, really playing on the love of umami. Bún bò Huế is similar in its broth making with the difference in an added ingredient, shrimp paste, which while completely awesome, might intimidate some people with its strong flavor profile.
This is the assembling of a bowl so you have an idea of what you’re getting into. My dear mother had most of the ingredients ready for me so I can’t give you too much insight into the whole process this time.
I wish this was a better picture, but here is the broth with some large pieces of pork in it to break down.
Rice noodles are then put into boiling water for about 8 minutes and set in a strainer to rest and finish softening up. Mom's tip, don't boil it to softness all the way in the water, as this will create a mushier end product, better to air dry it for a while.
The pork has softened a bit and is sliced up.
And placed in the on top of some of the noodles, a garnish of sliced onions and cilantro. Some stewed beef slices are also arranged on top.
Finally, top with broth and get ready to enjoy. I'm aware I went a bit overboard with the meat here, but I was trying to help clean out the fridge. That's the reason....yeah, that's it.
I wish this was one of the earlier bowls I had. You'd really see more of the shiny red from the soup base, which really helps to add a kick and a bit of nice color to the bowl.