Easy Bun Bo Hue Instant Pot Recipe: Authentic Flavors at Home

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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We’ve all had those days when the craving for something warm, spicy, and utterly comforting hits us like a freight train. That’s when we turn to our beloved Instant Pot to whip up a batch of Bun Bo Hue, a vibrant and flavorful Vietnamese noodle soup that’s sure to satisfy those cravings. Originating from the beautiful city of Hue in Vietnam, this dish is a symphony of spicy, sour, salty, and sweet flavors, featuring tender slices of beef and pork, nestled in a steaming, aromatic broth.

Making Bun Bo Hue in an Instant Pot not only cuts down on cooking time but also infuses the broth with deep, complex flavors as if it had been simmering for hours. We’re excited to share our take on this traditional dish, simplifying the process without compromising on taste. So, let’s dive into the world of Vietnamese cuisine and bring a bowl of soul-warming Bun Bo Hue to our tables, quicker than you might think.

Ingredients

Gather all your ingredients for a quicker and more efficient cooking process, enabling us to dive into the art of making Bun Bo Hue directly in our Instant Pot. This approach not only simplifies the cooking but also retains the authentic taste and aroma of this beloved Vietnamese noodle soup.

For the Broth

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, tender parts only, bruised
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1/4 cup Vietnamese shrimp paste (mam ruoc)
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 lb beef shank
  • 1 lb pork hocks

Creating a flavorful broth is crucial for Bun Bo Hue, so we’re starting with sautéing onions, lemongrass, garlic, and ginger to extract their fragrant aromas. The addition of Vietnamese shrimp paste elevates the broth with a unique depth of flavor, while spices bring the heat and vibrance characteristic of this dish.

For the Beef

  • 1 lb beef brisket, sliced thinly
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

We’ll prepare the beef brisket by seasoning it with salt and pepper, ensuring each slice is perfectly flavored before adding it to our savory broth. This will provide the tender and succulent beef pieces that are signature to Bun Bo Hue.

  • Rice noodles, cooked according to package instructions
  • Bean sprouts
  • Thinly sliced onion
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Sliced scallions
  • Lime wedges
  • Sliced jalapeños

To complete our Bun Bo Hue, the garnishes add freshness, crunch, and an extra layer of flavor. Each person can customize their bowl with these additional ingredients, making every bite a new experience.

Tools and Equipment Needed

To create a mouth-watering Bun Bo Hue in an Instant Pot, ensuring you have the right tools and equipment is crucial. This step ensures that our cooking process is not only efficient but also enjoyable. Here’s what we’ll need:

  • Instant Pot: The star of our show. Any 6-quart Instant Pot works perfectly for this recipe, allowing the flavors to develop fully and the beef to become wonderfully tender.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Precision is key when crafting the perfect Bun Bo Hue broth. Having a set of measuring cups and spoons on hand ensures our ingredients are accurately portioned.
  • Sharp Chef’s Knife: A sharp knife is essential for slicing the beef brisket into thin, tender slices. Additionally, it will help us finely chop the herbs and vegetables for our garnishes.
  • Cutting Board: Preferably one large enough to handle all our prep work, from chopping vegetables to slicing beef.
  • Fine Mesh Strainer: This is crucial for skimming any impurities from the broth, ensuring a clear, clean taste that’s fundamental to a good Bun Bo Hue.
  • Large Bowl: We’ll need a large bowl for soaking and then serving the rice noodles. The size is important to prevent overcrowding and sticking.
  • Ladle: A necessary tool for serving our rich and aromatic broth over the noodles. A ladle with a pour spout can make serving easier and more precise.
  • Tongs: Perfect for safely removing the beef from the Instant Pot and for serving noodles and beef into bowls.

Make-Ahead Instructions

When we dive into the world of Vietnamese cooking, particularly with a dish as rich in flavor as Bun Bo Hue, planning ahead can be a game-changer. Here, we’ll walk through how to get a head start on this luscious noodle soup, ensuring that your cooking process is as streamlined and stress-free as possible.

Prepping the Beef Brisket

One of the first steps you can take the day before is prepping the beef brisket. Trim any excess fat off the brisket, then cut it into large chunks. This not only speeds up the cooking time but also allows the flavors to penetrate the meat more deeply. Place the prepped brisket in a container, cover it tightly, and refrigerate overnight. By doing so, you’re paving the way for a tender, flavorful component of your Bun Bo Hue.

Toasting Spices and Aromatics

Another step you can tackle ahead of time is toasting your spices and preparing your aromatics. Gather your lemongrass, garlic, shallots, and spices. Toast them lightly in a dry pan to awaken their flavors, then let them cool before storing them in an airtight container. This step can add an incredible depth of flavor to your broth and is a secret weapon in our Bun Bo Hue arsenal.

Preparing the Broth

The soul of Bun Bo Hue is in its rich, aromatic broth. While it’s traditional to simmer the broth for hours, we can split the process to work in our favor. Begin by making the broth as instructed, then let it cool. Once at room temperature, transfer it to a large enough container and store it in the refrigerator. This not only saves time on the day of but also intensifies the broth’s flavor as it sits.

Soaking the Noodles

Bun Bo Hue is served with round rice noodles, which can be prepped well ahead of time. Soak the noodles in cold water for about an hour, then drain and store them in a sealed container in the fridge. They’ll be perfectly soft and ready to cook when you’re assembling your soup.

Preparation

Diving into the heart of Bun Bo Hue preparation, our journey begins with focusing on the essentials—beef and aromatics. These steps lay the foundation for a broth that’s rich in flavor and aroma, acting as the soul of our beloved Vietnamese noodle soup.

Prepping the Beef

To ensure the beef brisket infuses our broth with its full-bodied flavor, we start by giving it a good rinse under cold water. This step is crucial to remove any impurities that might cloud our broth. Next, we slice the brisket into thick, manageable chunks, about 2 to 3 inches in size. These are ideal for optimal flavor extraction during the cooking process.

Once sliced, the beef is blanched for about 2 to 3 minutes in a pot of boiling water. This blanching step not only cleanses the beef further but also helps in achieving a clear, aesthetically pleasing broth. After blanching, we immediately rinse the beef chunks under cold water to stop the cooking process and set them aside. This preparatory step is essential for both flavor development and ensuring our Bun Bo Hue’s broth is beautifully transparent.

Preparing the Aromatics

The aromatics play a pivotal role in defining Bun Bo Hue’s distinct fragrance and taste. We begin by toasting lemongrass stalks, shallots, and garlic in the dry Instant Pot on the sauté setting. Toasting these ingredients enhances their flavors, unlocking a new depth that will permeate our broth. For this recipe, we’ll need about 3 lemongrass stalks, roughly chopped; 2 shallots, halved; and 4 cloves of garlic, crushed.

As we roast them, their fragrances will fill the kitchen, a promising hint of the delicious soup to come. Once they’ve browned and released their aromatic oils, we’ll carefully remove them from the pot. These toasted aromatics are then added to the broth at a later stage, contributing to the complex flavor profile Bun Bo Hue is renowned for.

By meticulously prepping the beef and preparing the aromatics, we set the stage for a Bun Bo Hue that promises to be both authentic and deeply satisfying.

Cooking the Broth

Now that our beef and aromatics are prepped, we move on to the most crucial part: cooking the broth. This broth is the soul of Bun Bo Hue, bringing together a melody of flavors and spices that define this iconic dish.

Searing the Beef

Before we dive into pressure cooking, searing the beef is a step we cannot skip. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Heat your Instant Pot by selecting the “Sauté” function. Once it’s hot, add a tablespoon of cooking oil.
  2. Take your prepped beef and sear it in batches. You’re aiming for a nice, brown crust that will add depth to your broth. Make sure not to crowd the pot to ensure each piece gets evenly seared.
  3. Once each piece is beautifully browned, remove them and set aside. This seared beef will be reintroduced into the broth later, infusing it with rich flavors.

Pressure Cooking the Broth

After searing the beef, the Instant Pot is already flavored with those beautiful browned bits. Here’s what you do next:

  1. To the same pot, add your blanched beef bones, the seared beef, and your toasted aromatics (lemongrass, shallots, and garlic).
  2. Pour in enough water to cover the ingredients, but do not exceed the maximum fill line of your Instant Pot.
  3. Secure the lid, making sure the valve is set to “Sealing.” Cook on “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” high setting for 90 minutes.
  4. After the cooking time is up, allow the pressure to release naturally for about 20 minutes, then carefully turn the valve to “Venting” to release any remaining pressure.

Seasoning the Broth

Once the broth is cooked, it’s time to season and strain:

  1. Carefully open the Instant Pot lid and remove the beef bones and any large pieces of spices or aromatics. They have done their job imparting flavor.
  2. Season the broth with fish sauce, sugar, and salt. Start with small amounts, taste, and adjust according to your preference. The goal is a perfect balance of savory, slightly sweet, and umami flavors.
  3. Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve to ensure it’s clear and free of any small bits. This step guarantees a smooth broth, which is key for a refined Bun Bo Hue.

Assembling Bun Bo Hue

After meticulously preparing the rich and flavorful broth and tender beef, we’re now at the final, most rewarding stage: assembling Bun Bo Hue. This part is where the magic happens, turning our individual components into a harmonious bowl of pure comfort.

Noodle Preparation

First up, let’s get those noodles ready. Bun Bo Hue is incomplete without its signature rice vermicelli noodles.

  1. Boil Water: Begin by bringing a large pot of water to a rolling boil. You want enough water to fully submerge the noodles.
  2. Cook the Noodles: Add your rice vermicelli noodles to the boiling water. Stir gently to prevent them from sticking together. Cook according to the package instructions, usually for about 5 to 7 minutes, until they are just tender.
  3. Rinse and Drain: Once cooked, drain the noodles in a colander. Rinse them under cold running water to stop the cooking process and remove excess starch. This step ensures the noodles maintain their perfect texture.
  4. Divide the Noodles: Equally portion the noodles into serving bowls. The amount of noodles can vary based on personal preference, but a good starting point is about a cup per serving.

Plating

With our noodles ready, it’s time to bring everything together.

  1. Arrange the Beef: Thinly slice the cooked beef brisket. Lay the slices over the noodles in each bowl. If you’ve cooked other beef cuts or have leftover beef toppings, include them as well.
  2. Pour the Broth: Ladle the hot, aromatic broth into each bowl. Ensure that the broth is steaming hot; it needs to slightly cook the beef slices and warm up the noodles. The broth should cover the noodles and beef, immersing them fully to soak up the flavors.
  3. Add Fresh Herbs and Vegetables: Bun Bo Hue shines with the addition of fresh herbs and veggies. Top each bowl with sliced onions, spring onions, cilantro, and a handful of bean sprouts. For those who enjoy a spicy kick, adding a few slices of fresh chili peppers brings a vibrant heat.
  4. Serve with Lime and Condiments: Offer lime wedges, fish sauce, and chili sauce on the side. These allow everyone to adjust the soup to their taste, adding acidity, saltiness, or heat as desired.

Serving Suggestions

After perfecting our Bun Bo Hue in the Instant Pot, it’s time to talk about how to serve it to truly honor its vibrant flavors and textures. Serving this beloved Vietnamese noodle soup is all about customization and providing a variety of fresh, zesty, and crunchy additions that each diner can choose from to make their bowl unique. Here are our top suggestions to transform your Bun Bo Hue into an unforgettable meal.

Fresh Herbs and Vegetables

For that burst of freshness, we always lay out a generous selection of herbs and vegetables. Include thinly sliced cabbage or lettuce, mung bean sprouts, slices of red onion, scallions, cilantro, Thai basil, and mint. These greens not only add a crisp texture but also enhance the soup with aromatic flavors.

Lime and Condiments

A squeeze of lime is essential for that tangy kick that brightens the rich broth. Alongside lime wedges, offer a variety of condiments: fish sauce for added depth, hoisin sauce for sweetness, and Sriracha or sliced fresh chili peppers for those who like their soup with a bit of heat.

Extra Proteins

For guests who prefer a heartier bowl, consider offering additional protein options like sliced Vietnamese ham, cooked shrimp, or even a poached egg. These add-ons contribute to the richness of the dish and ensure that no one leaves the table hungry.

Side Dishes

To accompany Bun Bo Hue, light side dishes such as spring rolls or a simple papaya salad can offer a refreshing contrast to the soup’s deep flavors. These sides are not only delicious but also create a more rounded meal experience.

Storing and Reheating

After savoring the vibrant flavors of Bun Bo Hue, you might find yourself with leftovers. No worries! We’ve got the perfect tips to store and reheat this Vietnamese noodle soup, ensuring each bowl is as delicious as the first.

How to Store Leftovers

  1. Broth: Pour the cooled broth into airtight containers or heavy-duty ziplock bags. It’s crucial to separate the broth from the noodles and other ingredients to maintain the best texture and flavor. The broth can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
  2. Noodles and Toppings: Store the cooked noodles, beef slices, and any other toppings in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator. These will retain their best quality for 1-2 days. Keeping them separate from the broth prevents the noodles from becoming soggy and the toppings from losing their freshness.
  3. Herbs and Vegetables: Any fresh herbs and vegetables should be wrapped lightly in paper towels and stored in plastic bags in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator. They’re best used within 2 days.
  1. Broth: When you’re ready to enjoy your Bun Bo Hue again, start by thawing the broth overnight in the refrigerator if it was frozen. Reheat the broth on the stove over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes to ensure it’s fully heated through.
  2. Noodles: For the noodles, a quick blanch in boiling water will bring them back to life. Simply bring a pot of water to a boil, submerge the noodles for about 30 seconds, and then drain them. This will warm them up without making them mushy.
  3. Combining Ingredients: Once the broth is hot and the noodles are warmed, combine them in a bowl. Reheat beef slices and other proteins by quickly dunking them in the hot broth if desired. Top with fresh herbs and vegetables to bring back that burst of freshness.

Conclusion

We’ve walked through the steps of making Bun Bo Hue in an Instant Pot, from broth to bowl, ensuring every spoonful is as authentic and flavorful as possible. Remember, it’s all about the balance of spices, the tenderness of the beef, and the freshness of your garnishes. Don’t forget the importance of proper storage and reheating to keep enjoying this delightful dish. Whether you’re serving it up for a family dinner or savoring leftovers, Bun Bo Hue made in an Instant Pot is a testament to the wonders of traditional cuisine meeting modern convenience. Let’s keep experimenting and enjoying the rich flavors of Vietnamese cooking together.

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