Flavors of Southeast Asia: Vietnam’s Bún Bò Huê

THE ROYAL CUISINE OF VIETNAM’S IMPERIAL CITY – BúN Bò HUê

Everyone knows Pho as the Vietnamese mainstay soup, but when you get bored with it and want to try a noodle dish with a lot more zing, try Bún Bò Huê. This spicy, yet refreshing soup is a namesake dish of the Hue region of Vietnam, where a history of Hue Royal Cuisine – consisting of dishes with balanced flavors and elegant presentation – survives the Nyugen Dynasty’s feudal court. It’s made with bún (rice noodles) and  (beef) as the key ingredients. These are boiled in a mix that includes shrimp paste, fish sauce, ox tail, pig’s feet, and lemongrass. A dash of various vegetables and herbs are thrown in and a sate made with oil, chili flakes, and annatto seed lends the dish its signature color and intensity. This dish is not for the faint of heart, as traditional versions contain cubes of curdled pig blood! But the result is a dish with a surprisingly even blend of umami (savory), sour, and spicy flavors. After all that, consider adding a cup of Vietnam’s famous egg coffee, to balance your palate with a touch of sweet.