Recipe: Hue-Style Noodle Soup

Most people are familiar with the Vietnamese beef noodle soup, pho (pronounced "fuh"). Pho is good, but bun bo Hue (pronounced boom baw way), or Hue-style beef noodle soup, is great. If pho was like flying a kite, bun bo Hue would be like flying a jet fighter: intense and not for the weak. If the red color of the broth doesn't give it away, the first bite will. A good bowl of bun bo Hue will make you look like you just did yogalates in a sauna. Just please don't askme how I know about yogalates. The recipe below is courtesy of Mai Pham of Bon Appetit.

Hue-style Noodle Soup

  • 6 lemongrass stalks (bottom 3 inches only), outer layers peeled
  • 3 pounds beef shank
  • 8 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 onions, thinly sliced, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) sambal oelek or Thai chiles
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce (nuoc nam or nam pla)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons red shrimp paste with soya bean oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 8.8-ounce package dried thin rice noodles (vermicelli-style)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups thinly shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup rau ram (Vietnamese coriander) or Thai basil leaves or regular basil leaves
  • 3 dried Thai bird chiles, chopped (optional)
  • 4 lime wedges

Finely chop enough lemongrass stalks to measure 4 teaspoons. Cut remaining stalks in half. Place beef and stalks in large pot. Add broth and 8 cups water; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 1 1/2 hours.

Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1/3 of sliced onions and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon sambal oelek, paprika, and chopped lemongrass; sauté 1 minute. Add sambal oelek mixture to soup; mix in fish sauce, sugar, shrimp paste, and salt. Simmer until beef is tender, skimming foam from surface, about 1 hour. Remove beef from soup. Skim fat from surface of soup. Simmer soup until reduced to 8 cups, about 10 minutes. Add more sambal oelek for spicier flavor. Trim off any fat from beef; cut meat into bite-size pieces.

Bring large saucepan of water toboil. Add noodles; boil 1 minute. Drain; rinse under cold water and drain again. Using scissors, cut noodles crosswise. Divide noodles among 4 large bowls. Top with beef, remaining sliced onions, green onions, and cilantro. Bring soup to boil; ladle over noodles. Toss cabbage and rau ram in small bowl. Sprinkle over soup. Top with chiles, if desired; squeeze lime over top.

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