Thursday, May 3

♥ Bun Bo Hue (Vietnamese Hue-Style Beef Noodle)

 Serves 6 to 8 (6 quart pot)  
This recipe is borrowed from Wandering Chopsticks  
and edited by The Singing Sunflower

For the stock:

  • 1 large onion
  • A few cloves of garlic
  • 1 large knob ginger, smashed
  • 8 stalks of lemongrass, smashed and bruised
  • Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce) , to taste
  • 2 tblsp mam ruoc (Vietnamese fermented shrimp paste)
  • 1/4 pineapple, toss in ends when you trim the eyes and the center fibrous part too
  • 3 to 5 lbs of pork and/or beef bones (I used 2 to 2 1/2 lbs of each. More bones, More flavor.)

For the annatto seed oil and lemongrass mixture:

  • 2 tblsp oil
  • 2 tblsp mam ruoc
  • 1 tblsp annatto seeds
  • 1 or 2 tblsp chili paste
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, finely minced

For additional meats, use any or all of the following:

  • 2 lbs pig trotters
  • 2 lbs beef shank, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
  • Cha lua (Vietnamese steamed pork loaf)
  • Cha tom (Vietnamese shrimp paste)
  • Huyet (Vietnamese steamed pig's blood.) Even if you don't eat them, blood cubes add a lot of flavor to the broth. Look for them in the fresh meats aisle. They're sometimes sold in containers.

For the noodles:

  • bun (Vietnamese round rice noodles)

For the garnish platter, any or all of the following in whatever quantity you wish:

  • Mint
  • Limes
  • Cilantro
  • Bean sprouts
  • Onions, thinly sliced
  • Rau ram (Vietnamese coriander)
  • Tia to (Vietnamese purple perilla)
  • Banana blossom, thinly sliced or substitute with red cabbage

Serve with saucers of
tuong ot xa (Vietnamese lemongrass chili sauce) and mam ruoc if people want to add more to their bowls.

Phew! I told you there was a long list of ingredients for
bun bo Hue.

Let's Start ...

First off, you'll need lots and lots of lemongrass. About 8 stalks should be sufficient. Half a dozen will go into the stock pot, save the other two to be finely minced and flavor the soup at the end.

1. Smash the lemongrass to release the fragrance. I used a pestle but a meat tenderizer would work too. I used 9 stalks because some of them are rather small. Don't go overboard because too much lemongrass will make your stock bitter.
2.  Slow cook the marrow and some skin attached for 6 hours
3. All the impurities and fat will rise to the top like in the picture below. 

 4. Use a spoon to scoop out all the fat and continue to slow cool for another 3 hours

5. For the pork meat, tied the meat like the picture above with threads

6. I used pork soup bones and beef neck bones. 
7. Wash and rinse the bones and place them into a stock pot. 
8. Fill the pot with water until covered. Boil the meat with bones for 10 minutes.
9. All the impurities will rise to the top like in the picture below. Dump out the whole pot.
10. Wash the meat so all the impurities are gone. Wash out the stock pot too.
11. Then place the bones back in the stock pot, fill with water and set it on the stove to boil again.
12. Now, add the cleaned meat bones, one onion, the bruised lemongrass stalks, a few cloves of garlic, a knob of ginger, 1/4 of a pineapple, and 2 tblsp of fermented shrimp paste to the new pot with new water.
13. When the mixture boils, again more impurities will rise to the top. Skim and remove the scum.

14. Then turn your heat down to medium-low and let simmer for at least 3 hours. 
15. After that, I let the pot cool down and refrigerate overnight so I can remove excess fat. If you don't want to do that, then after 3 hours, remove everything from the pot except for the broth. The meat should be falling off the bone tender at this point. Shred the meat and add that back into the pot if you wish.

16. Slice your meat thin to your liking ...

17. Set aside the blood cubes, steamed pork loaf, and shrimp paste for adding near the end. Add the beef shank and pig's feet to the stock pot. When the pot boils, again skim the scum and turn the heat down to medium-low to simmer. Check the meat after half an hour to see if it's chopstick-tender, meaning you should be able to poke it with a chopstick. You don't want the pig's feet to be too soft as gnawing on the slightly chewy skin is part of the appeal.
18. Finely slice two stalks of lemongrass like so. Then finely mince them in the food processor and set aside.
19. Annatto seeds are what makes bun bo Hue broth red.
20. In a pan on medium heat, add 2 tblsp of oil and 1 tblsp annatto seeds. When the oil turns red and all color seems to have seeped from the seeds, remove the seeds.
21.You should have a nice bright red color like so.
22. Add the 2 finely minced stalks of lemongrass and saute for a minute or so to release the fragrance.
23. Then add 2 tblsp of fermented shrimp paste and 1 tblsp of chili sauce.
24. Saute until smooth like so. Add the whole mixture to the stock pot.
25. Now the bun bo Hue is looking nicely red. Don't worry, that's just the surface, underneath is still a nice beefy-porky broth.

26. Time to prepare the garnish platter. Select a good-sized banana blossom. Even if you don't eat it all, select the biggest one you can find. The bigger the blossom, the less bitter it tastes.

27. Cut the greens and add it to your bowls afterward the broth
28. Boil the noodles and drain. Remember to upend a bowl into the colander to cut down on clumping.

29. Check on the pig's feet and see if your meat is done.
30. If so, then add the blood cubes and turn the heat to high so you get a roiling boil. You can use this time to add noodles to the bowls.
31. When the pot starts boiling again, spoon the broth and whatever meats you'd like into the bowl of noodles.

- Enjoy your Bun Bo Hue

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