My most popular and most commented recipe on the blog is Bun Bo Hue (Vietnamese Hue-Style Beef Noodle Soup). I'm not going to rant again about how bun bo Hue is not Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) because with different noodles, different broths, and different meats, you obviously know that by now, right? If you don't, I'll wait while you click over before coming back.
Bun bo Hue is a bit more laborious to make, what with the beef and pork bones, pig's feet, and lemongrass to give the soup its depth of flavor. Not to mention the kick of chilies for spice and shrimp paste for savoriness. So how to squeeze all that into a 5-quart Crock Pot? Obviously, I couldn't use beef or pork bones because that would take up all the space. So I decided to go with a combination of pig's feet, pork spare ribs, and beef shank meat. I reduced the portions of the other ingredients accordingly.
The test came on May 15, 2010. That was a big day in the Wandering Chopsticks kitchen! Tony of SinoSoul was getting a new oven and giving me his old one. It's hard to believe, but for three years, my old oven literally could not boil water. It's a wonder I've been able to cook as I have. I mean, I still cooked noodles, it just took longer until they were done. We were so excited to see the water boiling that we even took pictures! This momentous occasion deserved a corresponding recipe.
In the morning, I prepped the meats for the stock and put them in the Crock Pot on high heat. While the stock was cooking, I prepped the garnishes -- the steamed pork loaf, blood cubes, bean sprouts, onions, and mint leaves. Normally, I'd slice some banana blossoms, but a simplified recipe meant a simplified garnish platter as well. I shoved everything into the refrigerator until it was time to eat.
Nearly four hours later, after picking up my new-used oven and swapping the old one out, and obviously, testing that new-old oven could boil water for the noodles, we sat down to eat the Crock Pot bun bo Hue. Hey! Pretty good! Now, I will admit that the broth isn't as full-bodied as it could have been via the traditional method, but the bones in the pork spare ribs and pig's feet added some heft to the broth. And when it came down to it, the convenience of a Crock Pot bun bo Hue outweighed the few cons. So if you don't have time or are too intimidated to try making bun bo Hue the traditional way, do give my Crock Pot bun bo Hue a try. Like I've proven with my very popular Crock Pot Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) recipe, Vietnamese tradition can be updated for modern convenience without sacrificing authenticity or flavor.
Crock Pot Bun Bo Hue (Vietnamese Hue-Style Beef Noodle Soup)
Adapted from my recipe for Bun Bo Hue (Vietnamese Hue-Style Beef Noodle Soup).
For 5-quart Crock Pot, about 4 to 6 servings, you'll need:
For the stock:
1 lb pig's feet or 1 lb oxtail bones
1/2 lb beef shank, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
1/2 lb pork spare ribs
4 stalks of lemongrass, smashed and bruised
2-inch knob ginger, smashed
1/2 cup pineapple or toss in centers when you trim the pineapple
1 small onion
A few cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Mam Ruoc (Vietnamese Fermented Shrimp Paste)
2 tsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce)
For the annatto seed oil and lemongrass mixture:
1 stalk lemongrass, finely minced
2 tsp oil
2 tsp annatto seeds
1 tsp Mam Ruoc
2 tsp chili paste
For additional meats, use any or all of the following:
Cha lua (Vietnamese steamed pork loaf)
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). I prefer Three Ladies brand Jiangxi bun giang tay. They come bundled into individual servings. One bag has four bundles and costs less than a dollar.
For the garnish platter, any or all of the following in whatever quantity you wish:
Rau ram (Vietnamese coriander)
Tia to (Vietnamese purple perilla)
Onions, thinly sliced
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.
Prep your meats first, cutting 1 lb of pig's feet or oxtail bones, 1/2 lb pork spare ribs, and 1/2 lb beef shank meat. If you want a clearer broth, boil the meats on the stove top first for about 10 minutes, dump everything into a colander, and rinse the meat to clean it of impurities.
Otherwise, if you're lazy and don't mind a little of the scum at the bottom of the pot, just dump everything in the Crock Pot.
Add 4 stalks of lemongrass that have been smashed and bruised, a 2-inch knob ginger, 1/2 cup pineapple or the centers when you trim a pineapple, 1 small onion, a few cloves of garlic, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp shrimp paste, and 2 tsps fish sauce.
Fill the pot almost to the top with water. Leave a little room for some added seasonings and to avoid overflow. Cover and turn the heat to high if you're going to cook for about 4 hours, or low if you want to cook for 8 hours.
Meanwhile, finely mince 1 stalk of lemongrass. Set aside.
In a small pot on medium heat, add about 2 tsps of oil. Add 2 tsps annatto seeds.
When the annatto seeds have released all their color, spoon them out and discard.
Add the minced lemongrass, 1 tsp shrimp paste, and 2 tsps of chili sauce.
Stir. Turn off the heat.
Add the lemongrass chili mixture to the Crock Pot. Cover again.
About four hours later, you get this! Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Remove the onion, lemongrass, and pineapple pieces.
Take one of the pig's feet and poke it with a chopstick to see if it's tender enough to your liking.
Instead of sliced Vietnamese pork loaf, I had some fish cake that my mom had frozen.
The sliced blood cubes.
Boiling water! For the noodles, of course.
Drain and rinse the noodles. Place them in a bowl. Spoon the broth and meats over the noodles. Garnish with sliced onion, bean sprouts, and mint leaves if you wish.
You can also add sliced banana blossoms or red cabbage, lime wedges, chili paste, and shrimp paste, but as I said, simplified garnish platter for a simplified recipe.
Other Crock Pot recipes you might like:
Crock Pot Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)
Crock Pot Ca Ri Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Curry)
Crock Pot Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)
1 year ago today, Quick and Easy Hummus.
2 years ago today, Orange and Fennel Salad and mom's airline care packages.
3 years ago today, oregano and How to Dry Herbs.