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  • Writer's pictureDeana Thai

Instant Pot Bún Bò Huế

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

Vietnamese spicy beef and pork vermicelli noodle soup! Flavors in this dish creates an umani effect!

Bún Bò Huế is a spicy beef noodle soup that originated from the city of Huế in Vietnam. This savory bowl of food has a wonderful balance of sweet, salty, spiciness and umani effect. The broth’s main flavors are fish sauce/shrimp paste, lemongrass and paprika. I actually leave the shrimp paste out for each person to add in their individual bowls. Not everyone can handle the pungent earthy flavor and smell of shrimp paste.

Traditionally, it’s served with beef shank, beef tendon, pork blood pudding, pork meatloaf slices, pork hocks and garnished with fresh herbs! But in today’s busy family lifestyles, each family will use ingredients that they either prefer or are able to pick up at the grocery store. Recently, I've learned that people also add banana blossoms. Which is something I've never had in any of my noodle soups. So it is completely optional what types of toppings you want to serve with your pot of bún bò huế.

Bún Bò Huế is a special dish for me in particular because my mom and grandma did not make it all the time. It only happens during large family gatherings at Thanksgiving or Christmas and or perhaps a birthday gathering. And sometimes my mom and grandma didn't make it at all.

I used to think it was quite difficult to make bún bò huế and stayed away from it. But now it's so easy and once I teach a friend how to cook it; they agree the list of ingredients is scarier than the actual process! Now it's even easier with my instant pot to have bún bò huế! And if you don't have an instant pot, you can still make this dish. It will take a bit longer to soften the beef shank/tendon and to draw out flavor from any bones. You'll need a minimum of 2-4 hours depending on how large the beef shank and tendon are. I hope you enjoy this instant pot creation of mine!

***Note One: Pork blood pudding/gelatin can be found in Asian markets near the meat section or sometimes in the frozen freezer section. Make sure to grab the solid version and not the liquify version or you'll be in for a bloody surprise!

***Note Two: If you can't find the bò huế seasoning package, you can mix your own! Combine 2 tablespoons sweet paprika, 1 tablespoon Cheyenne pepper powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon ginger powder. Mix well.

YouTube Video Will Premiere on Friday, October 2, 2020 at 3pm PST

Ingredients (8-Quart Instant Pot, Serves 8-10)

  • 2lbs beef shank

  • 2lbs beef tendon

  • 2lbs pork hocks


  • 8-10 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 tbsp minced garlic

  • 3/4 cup minced lemongrass

  • 2 tbsp sweet paprika

  • 1/4 cup bò huế Seasoning

  • 1 3-inch ginger piece

  • 1 yellow onion

  • 2-4 tbsp fish sauce (any brand)

  • 2 tbsp salt (plus extra for rinsing bones/veggies)

  • 1/2 cup chicken/mushroom bouillon

  • 1 stick palm sugar

  • 1-2 tbsp shrimp paste (optional)

  • Hot water

Other Ingredients

  • Pork blood pudding

  • 1 tbsp salt

  • 3 tbsp vinegar

  • Thick rice vermicelli noodles

Sides & Additional Flavoring Agents

  • chopped green onions

  • thinly sliced green and red cabbage

  • thinly sliced red onion

  • banana blossom

  • Thai or serrano chili sliced

  • lime wedges

  • fine shrimp sauce/paste

  • fish sauce

  • Other Optional Herbs: mints, Thai basil, perilla/purple shiso, cilantro, Vietnamese coriander


Making The Broth

  1. Begin boiling water in a stockpot for a pre-boil rinse of beef shank/bones, pork hocks, and tendons. Add pork bones and 1 tablespoon salt. This is the initial boil to clean the bones and meat. Any blood or debris will wash off and leave the actual broth nice and clear. Boil for 10 to 15-minutes. Drain and rinse the meat well under warm water.

  2. Boil a kettle or two of water. Or in a 6-8 quart pot.

  3. Add 8-10 tablespoons of olive/veggie oil into the pressure cooker and set on sauté mode.

  4. Add garlic, paprika, bò huế seasoning, and minced lemongrass to the oil. Mix well. Once the "sizzling begins" turn off the instant pot. Keep mixing and stirring the saté aromatics to prevent the burning of seasoning. It will become paste-like in consistency. If too dry add another tablespoon of oil. This heating process brings out the natural flavors and oils from the seasoning to give a deeper depth of flavor.

  5. Slowly add boiling hot water to the saté mixture and begin to dissolve the paste you've created.

  6. Add in salt, fish sauce, palm sugar, chicken bouillon, ginger, and onion. Optional: You can add in the shrimp paste too if you like a more earthy broth. Otherwise, it can be added individually as each person enjoys their bowl!

  7. Before adding more hot water into the pot, add the clean beef shank/bones, pork hocks, and tendons in first. Then fill water up to the "max line" in your instant pot. Close lid and set on "broth mode" for 45-minutes.

  8. Let the instant pot natural release for 40-minutes. Remove beef shank, pork hocks and tendon. Allow to cool and slice into thick or thin pieces. Set aside.

  9. Remove ginger, onion and discard.

  10. Set instant pot on sauté mode again. Add more hot water to fill the pot all the way up till just 1-inch below the pot's lip. Turn off and keep warm when simmering begins.

  11. Broth is all done!

Now it's time to prepare the "pork blood gelatin/pudding", "pork meatloaf" and "rice noodles".

  1. Carefully remove pork blood and slice into 1-inch slabs. Add into room temperature water, set heat to medium and allow it to come up to a simmer. Once the water begins simmering, allow the pork blood pudding to cook for 20-25 more minutes until fully firm and opaque in color. Rinse under tap water and slice up before serving.

  2. Thinly slice the pork meatloaf and set aside.

  3. The XL rice vermicelli noodles take a while to cook. My trick is to add it into room temperature water and let the vermicelli warm-up at the same time as the water. This method allows the vermicelli to cook evenly on the outside to the inside. I still like my noodles el dente so once it comes to a boil, I reduce to a medium-high heat and cook for an additional 10-minutes. Cook for 12-minutes for softer noodles.

  4. Rinse vermicelli under tap water and portion out into individual bundles for later. This method prevents the noodles from sticking together in a giant ball.

Fresh Herbs & Veggies

  1. Soak and rinse veggies (cabbage/bean sprouts/banana blossoms) and herbs (Vietnamese coriander/mints/basil/cilantro/shiso).

  2. Thinly slice cabbage, red onion, green onions and chili.

  3. Slice lime/lemon into individual wedges.

  4. Arrange and set on a serving table for guests to serve themselves or add to bowls before serving.

Finally it's time to put it all together!

  1. Set platter of veggies, herbs, chili, and lime/lemon aside for guests to add to their own bowls.

  2. Grab a bowl and add a portion of vermicelli. (I love my veggies tender, so I always add them to the bottom and the hot broth will cook it!)

  3. Top with beef shank, pork hock, tendon, and pork meatloaf.

  4. Add broth and garnish with red onions, cilantro and green onions.

  5. Now slurp up this delicious creation and enjoy the umani flavors!

Supplies & Equipement

Instant Pot 8-Quart:

Bún Bò Huế Seasoning, 3-Pack

Fine Shrimp Paste

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