Local flavor

Bun bo Hue – One of the Greatest Soup in the World

“Bun bo Hue is the greatest soup in the world," Anthony Bourdain said in a CNN article "On the hunt for bun bo Hue". Anthony is not alone as many others also shared the American chef’s feelings when they tried the rice vermicelli soup.
Many of the treasures of Vietnamese cuisine can be traced back to the city of Hue, which once served as the country’s imperial capital. Bun bo Hue is one of the most popular soups that goes down well with Vietnamese people and foreigners alike.

The name Bun bo Hue contains three main elements, including rice vermicelli (bun) beef (bo) and Hue, the place where the soup originated. However, the soup also includes juicy pig's knuckles, cubes of congealed pig blood, which has a dark brown colour. Bean sprouts, lime wedges, shrimp paste, and thinly sliced banana blossoms accompany the soup.

In addition, the broth is prepared by simmering beef bones and beef shank with lemongrass and then seasoned with fermented shrimp sauce and sugar for taste. Very spicy chili oil is added later during the cooking process.

Fish sauce and shrimp sauce are added to the soup according to taste. Ingredients might vary by regions due to their availability.

Bun bo Hue usually includes thin slices of marinated and boiled beef shank and pig's knuckles.
It can also include cubes of congealed pig blood and shrimp paste.
The 3cm thin pig's knuckles are carefully chopped.

Bun bo Hue broth is unique...

... and always kept hot with low fire to keep a clear view of the broth.

Bun bo Hue is served with bean sprouts, lime wedges, shrimp paste, and thinly sliced banana blossoms.

The soup is the most popular dish in Hue.

The dish is greatly admired for its balance of spicy, sour, salty and sweet flavours with the predominant flavor that of lemon grass. Compared to Pho or Bun rieu, the noodles are thicker and more cylindrical.

A Hue culture researcher said: “Bun bo Hue has a big pig's knuckle but it is not gross. It has a deep taste with an attractive colour, which represents the delicate gastronomy of Hue people”.

Despite the fact that there are many Bun bo Hue restaurants in Hue, it'd be a shame not to venture into the stalls of Dong Ba Market for a bowl of Bun bo Hue as the soup there still has the vintage formula inherited from the ancient Hue citadel.

US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius over a year ago attended a Bun bo Hue cooking session in the Imperial City in Hue as part of the ambassador’s visit to Thua Thien – Hue province. Ted explained that he chose a Hue- original dish to try because it’s a traditional dish which reflects Vietnamese culture and history.

By Tran Thanh Giang

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