Recipe by Drew Platt
We asked our friend Drew Platt—writer, comedy producer, food enthusiast and cook—how he makes one of his favorite soups called Bún bò Huế which is a spicy Vietnamese beef noodle soup that he learned when growing up around a large Vietnamese community in south Mississippi. When most people think of Vietnamese soup they think of Phở, but Bún bò Huế is like its spicy and bold cousin that a lot of people don't know. If you like Phở and you like spicy, you gotta give this one a try!
4lbs Beef (shanks/neck)
Ginger root (3 inch piece, halved)
6 Pieces of Garlic
1 Onion (white)
3 tablespoons Korean Red pepper flake
1-inch piece yellow rock sugar
4 tablespoons neutral Cooking oil
5 Stalks Lemongrass
6 tablespoons Fish Sauce
Salt to taste
*1 ½ tablespoons shrimp paste mắm ruốc (Lee Kum Kee brand), optional
*This wasn't included in Drew's recipe and is optional, but you can add shrimp paste to the broth which adds a HUGE hit of umami and depth of flavor. From what I've seen in other Bún bò Huế recipes, people usually use the bright pink shrimp paste.
Bun noodles (or thick rice noodle of choice)
Vietnamese Pork Loaf (Chả Lụa)
Red onion (or shallot)
What you'll need. Don't forget your Dripbib.
1) Place the beef in a large stockpot and cover it with water. Bring to a boil and turn down to medium, let the meat boil for about 15 minutes to clean out all of the impurities. This will lead to a clearer broth. After 15 minutes, strain the bones in a colander and rinse. Rinse and clean out the pot and add the bones back. Cover with water, with the water rising about 3 inches above the beef.
2) Cut your onion in half through the root so it stays intact and remove the skin. Cut the ginger and onion in half and roast both the onion and ginger over a flame on the stove. If you don't have a gas stove skip this step, but it will deepen the flavor. Add the onion and ginger to the pot once it has a black char.
3) Chop the top and bottom off the lemongrass stalks and peel off the first layer, carefully slice the lemongrass in half and add to the pot. Bring the pot to a boil. Once at a boil turn down to a low simmer.
4) While you're waiting for that stock to start boiling, mince the shallots and garlic together (a food processor makes quick work of this) and add to a pan with your cooking oil. Cook until the shallots begin to become soft and translucent, then add the pepper flakes and toast for about 2 minutes until toasty. (Annatto seed is traditionally used for the red coloring but I like the smokey heat of the Korean chili flake).
5) Add the pepper, shallot, garlic mixture to the stock and stir. Let this mixture simmer for 4-5 hours.
*If you're adding in shrimp paste, here's the step where you'll add it in. Mix the shrimp paste with ¼ cup of water and add it into the pot.
While this is happening you can soak your noodles in colder water and make your bowl add-ins.
6) Pre-cut your limes, Vietnamese pork loaf (chả lụa), red onions (thinly sliced), cilantro and set aside.
** If you want to be authentic, see if you can get pork blood cake from your local Asian supermarket or butcher.
7) Once the stock is finished, remove the meat the best you can (if should be falling apart, if it's not, let the stock ride) and set it aside. Carefully strain your stock into a large bowl, you can fish out the remaining meat when you're done. Once you rinse the stockpot, return the strained stock and put it on a simmer. Add your fish sauce, this is to taste, I put in more than 6 tablespoons but definitely taste as you go.
8) Let the meat cool and pick through it with a fork or gloved hands, in order to remove any bones. Add the amount of beef you want for your bowl into a pan with a small ladle full of broth from the pot and heat until the broth is incorporated into the meat. Don't dry it out!
9) Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the rice noodles, cook until done, and then strain, rinsing the noodles with cold water to stop the cooking process. Place the desired amount of noodles in your bowls. Line the beef, pork loaf, lime, and onions around the noodles. Top with a hot ladle of that beautiful broth. Slurp and enjoy!
Drew enjoying his Bún Bò Huế with his Dripbib. Have a nice drip!